Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Canon New F-1 - Interchangeable Viewfinder Options

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The greatest era of interchangeable viewfinders was in the seventies and mid-eighties where many of the top of the line models from various SLR manufacturers introduced their models with this felxible feature in mind. The three most active players in the professional market, Canon, Nikon and Pentax while for a brief spell, Minolta were quite creative with the use of interchengable viewfinders features with their respecive 35mm SLR models. Originally, a viewfinder's sole function was to provide a means for picture composition and focusing. With manaul focus SLR camera development paramounts during the late seventies and early eighties, however, some manufacturers have come out with more creative usage with this feature. Among the few, Canon, Pentax and Nikon has the best options intheir product line.

New F-1 no finder.jpg (12k)
As the New F-1 also adopted a modular body design, you can affixed the right viewfinder to best your kind of photography. Options available are 5 prisms - one that can convert your camera into a Aperture Priority AE, a eye level, match needle scale reading; one for sports and action/wearing goggles in underwater housing, and two waist level, out of which one provides 6 X magnification and BOTH yield un-reverse image view in the finderfinder.

Though often taken for granted, framing, focusing, and obtaining correct exposure information all at the same time is a great help in using a camera. Realizing the importance of this convenience. You have seen that in the Canon F-1, some innovative prisms can actually providinga practical solution to solve problems, some even can transformed your all mechanical body into a semi automatic camera. It is not exaggerating to say, cameras in the '70 & '80 were best era in terms of creative use of viewfinders. (Check
Canon F-1, Nikon (comprehensive) and Pentax pages).

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Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Claudio®. who is a collector for Canon photo gear, he also has an Ebay Section as well as maintaining a website on his own where occasionally trading some photo equipment. Image(s) copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

The New F-1 has the most sophisticated viewfinders system and options among all the few mentioned 35mm SLR camera manufacturers. Because, it was interlocking with a very original and innovative metering system developed by Canon (MBS) as a whole. While the Nikon F2's viewfinders and the original Canon F-1 designed to have their metering cell housed into the finder as a metered prism, Canon improved upon that idea to enable it serves a few more objectives and provide even more features and improvements.

1. The viewfinders must be bright, so that the scene is easily visible.
2. The rangefinder must be easy to use.
3. The exposure information display must not intrude into the field of view.
4. Viewfinders must be quickly and easily interchangeable.
5. Changing the focusing screens must be a simple operation.

To meet these, the New F-1 has employed new technologies, numerous optical and mechanical problems were overcome at the same time.

Guide channels are located on both lower sides of the viewfinder housing to assure sliding smoothness and secure, wobble-free mounting. Accessory shoes are provided on the Eye-Level Finder FN, AE Finder FN, and Speed Finder FN, with built-in coupling contacts to eliminate manual connections and external wires.There is no denying that a brighter viewfinder makes photography easier. And to make a viewfinder brighter, it seems logical enough that the focusing screen should be made more transparent to transmit more light. However, since the focusing screen requires a diffusing surface in order to focus the image, a transparent screen would be totally inappropriate for the task. Optical designers in the past thus had little choice but to use traditional ground glass focusing screens which produced a sharp image, but which also left the finder dark and hard to use.


For a long time, optical designers tried to get around this problem by making the focusing screen's granular surface as fine as possible. This method had limitations, though, because the net effect was still a dark viewfinder. Canon went a long way toward overcoming viewfinder darkness when it introduced the focusing screen system for the former F-1. Designated as "L" type (Laser Matte) screens, the F-1's screens were constructed through laser matte processing.

Credit: Image courtesy of Mr. Claudio®. who is a collector for Canon photo gear, he also has an Ebay Section as well as maintaining a website on his own where occasionally trading some photo equipment. Image(s) copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

\This processing method textures the screen's surface by knocking off the peaks and rough edges of the grains. Each grain retains its function, the entire surface is rounded and smooth, and the result is a much brighter viewfinder.

The New F-1 system includes five interchangeable viewfinders: the EyeLevel Finder FN, AE Finder FN, Speed Finder FN and Waist-Level Finders FN 6X and FN. The AE Finder FN provides aperture-priority AE for greater control of depth of field. Shutter-priority AE is possible with all five finders if either of the two power drives is attached. While all these will displayed in either at the left or bottom with respective exposure control in the viewfinder.

Eye-Level Pinder FN The most compact of the series, the Eye-Level Finder FN is used in general photography when shooting in manual or shutter-priority AE modes. The finder provides 0.8x magnification with a 50mm lens set at infinity. An X-sync hot shoe permits AE flash photography with dedicated Speedlites. To prevent light from entering the viewfinder during self-timer and remote-control operations, it features a built-in eyepiece shutter.
AE Finder.jpg
AE Finder FN If you find you need to frequently switch modes in your work, then this is the finder for you. Used alone, the AE Finder FN gives aperture-priority AE, plus manual override. Install either power drive, however, and you have shutter-priority AE, as well. With other SLRs, it is easy to forget which mode you are in if you switch modes repeatedly. The AE Finder FN reminds you of the current mode by shifting the exposure read-out from the right to directly beneath the image. A window provides a direct reading of the aperture setting on the lens (New FD lenses only), next to the shutter speed scale. In manual or shutter-priority AE mode, the display remains on the right. A hot shoe and eyepiece shutter are built in.

Canon New F1 AE-FN Finder Instruction Manual
- Prepared by Christian Rollinger
Waist-Level Finder FN This finder proves its worth when you wish to use the camera at a low angle or view the subject at a right angle. This can include fields as diverse as photomacrography and astrophotography. The retractable barrel makes the finder even more compact. A builtin flip-up magnifier enlarges the image 4.6x for increased precision in focusing and composition. All exposure data are displayed unreversed and an adjustable rubber eye-piece hood blocks out stray iight. Because of its light weight (approximately 1/3 that of the FN-6X), it is an ideal accessory for the naturalist who wants to photograph plants and insects on field trips.
Waist-Level Finder FN-6X The Waist-Levei Finder FN-6X incorporates a 6X magnifying glass for critical focusing in close-up photography, copying work and photomacrography. The finder provides a clear, sharp image of the entire viewing area. The sophisticated optical system utilizes high refraction glass to eliminate spherical aberration, coma and astigmatism. Chromatic aberration does not occur even when you move your eye to one side. Stepless diopter adjustment from - 5 to +3 is possible for individual eyesight correction. Metering is unimpaired. The exposure information is displayed on the left side and is easy to read, being on the same apparent visual plane as the image.

Speed Finder FN The Speed Finder FN is designed for situations where it is difficult or impossible to bring your eye right up to the camera. The entire image is visible up to 60mm away, making it perfect for action photography when wearing a helmet, goggles or other eye protection. Rock climbing, aerial photography, shooting from moving vehicles or underwater using a special housing - the possibilities are endless for the adventurous photographer. You'll find it a great help, too, if you wear glasses. The rear of the finder swivels a full 180° in a single swift motion, bringing the eyepiece to the horizontal position. The camera can be held above the head in a crowd or used to shoot from ground level with equal ease.

Canon New F1 Speed Finder Instruction Manual Manual - Prepared by Christian Rollinger

Other useful accessories that can use along with the system viewfinder system of the New F-1: Eyepiece Ring; Dioptric Adjustment Lenses R; Magnifier R; Angle Finder A2; Angle Finder B; Eyecup R

* Click here to view the optical construction of the repsctive finders available.

Changing all the viewfinders finders is merely a matter of pressing the buttons located on both sides of the housing and sliding the unit off. Installation is the reverse of removal; a click signals when the viewfinder is locked in place. The standard viewfinder with the New F-1 is the Eye-Level Finder FN. Different shooting situations, however, are often best tackled by employing different methods of viewing. The New F-1 system thus includes five fully interchangeable viewfinders to provide the optimum conditions for focusing. Thus, in either way, since the New F-1 can be a multi modes AE camera, by preferences, speed oriented, depth of field minded or copy/duplicating/macro works can have their respective finders to match.

A version of the AE Finder FN was on the
Canon L.A. Olympic Model, 1984 with gold lining.

The New Canon F-1's Waist-Level Finder FN and Waist-Level Finder FN-6X. Both of these special finders afford a clear, sharp view of the image and display the exposure data in un-reversed form, Nikon's waist level has always been criticised by this fact. Pentax's modular system finder has similar features as the New F-1. On top of that, Canon's way of changing viewfinders is a simple operation. Press the two release buttons at the rear of the finder and withdraw it. Slide the replacement finder along the guide rails until it locks into place. The guiding rails provides a very secured feel, as opposed to Nikon F3 dual single latch lock system which at times, make sure suspiously look and checking if it can secure enough. Eventually, Nikon adopted the New F-1 method of double rails in their upgrades, the
Nikon F4 and NIkon F5. Since all interchangeable focusing screens of the New F-1 system are produced through either the laser matte or bright laser matte techniques, the image may be focused at any point within the viewfinder. However, seven of the available screen types additionally feature center focusing aids.

CanonF1newAdoramaA.JPG CanonF1newAdoramaB.JPG
Credit: Images courtesy of Adorama® Inc. "Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> Webisite URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. All images appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

The Next Page will give you a detailed illustration of how the image was transmitted to the eyepiece. With some illustrations on changes in the viewfinder information panel when mounted with Eye level, AE finder or in shutter Priority mode.

Instruction Manual: Canon New F-1 Camera | Motor Drive FN | Canon High Speed Motor Drive Camera |
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Specifications: HTML | PDF (58k)

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Metering Options, Viewfinders, Exposures Control, Reliability Issues,
Mechanism; Motor Drives/Winder, Data Film backs,
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