Canon FT QL
TTL Metering Arrives
Dates: March 1966
Type: 35mm SLR
Lens Mount: Canon FL
Exposure: Stop-down TTL Metering
Flash: Hot Shoe
Frame Rate: Manual Lever Winding
Notes: Canon began the “F” Series with the FX which had a built in light meter but it was not integrated into the exposure settings. The light meter read the light level through a separate sensor window on the front left of the top plate. There was no TTL metering. You read the needle scale and then set the cameras settings. Not even as good as the clip on light meter on the Model P Rangefinder camera. And then came the FP which had no light meter. And then the Pellix which had an integrated light meter but it was akward to use having to stop the lens down to take the light reading.
And then Canon hit a home run! The Canon FT QL was introduced by Canon in March 1966. It had a Canon FL lens mount compatible with the large range of FL series lenses. And the built in light meter measured the light through the lens (TTL) with a “match needle” system. It was slick although having to stop the lens down to take the light reading was still awkward. Canon was playing catch up with this model but this was a good camera nevertheless. Canon offered this version to combat the growing popularity of the Pentax Spotmatic variants as well as the Topcon RE SLR’s.
The FT can also operate the later Canon FD series lenses but the earlier R series has a different lens aperture mechanism and cannot be used, although the bayonet fitting is similar. The standard kit lenses were Canon’s 50mm f/1.8 ; 50mm f/1.4 and 58mm f/1.2,
FT QL was introduced a year after the pellicle mirrored Canon Pellix. However it differs from the Pellix models, having a normal quick-return reflex mirror and offering stop-down TTL metering. The TTL metering is semi-spot in nature and works through a prism incorporated in the viewfinder condenser/screen assembly. The later Canon F-1 has a similar prism for metering in its removable screen. The Canon FT viewfinder screen is not user changeable.
The cloth focal plane shutter has speeds from 1 sec to 1/1000 and B. The electronic flash sync. speed is 1/60. A delayed action timer gives 8 – 10 seconds delay, using the same front of body lever that actuates the stop-down metering. The mirror can be locked up for vibration reduction or for use with special FL lenses like the original 19mm f3.5 wide angle which projects deeply into the body and would foul the mirror.
The QL designation was a reference to Canon’s ingenious and successful “quick load” system. A stainless steel sprung hinged device inside the rear door makes film loading simpler than competing cameras of the era.
An accessory device, the Canon Booster, worked only with the FT QL and Pellix QL. It is a plug-in device that sits on the accessory shoe and increases the metering sensitivity by a factor of 16 for measuring exposure in poor light. Its operation is somewhat clumsy and is best kept for tripod use.
The FT QL was an important step for Canon that lead the company down a path of inceasingly popular cameras. It was solid, well built, reliable and it exhibited the classic form of the SLR for the 1970’s and 80’s. FT QL production ended in 1972 after the FTb was introduced.
There is a minor variation hardly worth noting. When this camera first came out the serial number was engraved on the right side top of the camera back. Looking at several FT’s I realized that this was changed during production to include the serial number on the top deck on the left side near the back edge. Looking at almost 50 FT’s I was able to find on line where I could read the serial numbers I found that the changeover occurred between serial # 357251 and 423598. There is still a spread here but it does narrow down when the change occurred.
I refer to the earlier cameras with serial on the back as Type I and those with the number on the top deck Type II. Not a big deal but interesting.
The second variation is, of course, that some FT’s were issued in “black”. I am assuming there were many black FT’s because it seems common to find them for sale. They are identical to the “chrome” editions and they do not seem to command a significantly higher price.
I assume they come in Type I and Type II although I have not seen a back Type I.
The black finish seems to have marked fairly easily. I think the chrome finish may have been more wear resistant.
Two FT bodies. Look at the top plate by the rewind crank. One has a serial number, the other none. The serial number on the top is the later version.
I like the black versions. I think they look sexier!
The late ’60’s and early ’70’s was a time of rapid camera advancement with every manufacturer trying to outdo the other. No matter how good the FT was, it was still playing catch up. It was not till the debut of the F-1 that Canon took the lead.
Same two cameras. One has a serial number on the back of the top plate and the other does not. These are the two variations discussed on the left.
Internally the black FT’s are identical to the ones in Chrome finish.
This FT is wearing a correct kit FL 50mm lens. At the time it was produced this was Canon’s flagship camera and a very capable one. But it was not a technological leader by any means!