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A Tale of 3 Cameras I


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Introduction - Exposure metering and the automatic camera.

Front view of the Canon A1

    Once cameras had entered the film era and outside film processing became available the serious photographer found the need to accurately measure the light falling on the subject and adjust the camera accordingly. Excluding the first extinction type light meters the first handheld light meters used selenium photocells. By the 1950's camera manufacturers were incorporating light meters into cameras. Most SLR and rangefinder cameras in this time period use a meter that attached to the camera and coupled to the shutter speed dial and/or the lens iris. As cadmium sulfide photocells became available they replaced the selenium models providing better low light level readings and better shock resistance.

Front view of the Pentax Super Program

    I remember my fathers Pentax H1a had a clip on light meter that coupled to the shutter speed dial. Once the film speed had been entered it would read out the f-stop to set the lens to. The meter had two ranges and a battery check function and had a thirty degree field of view. Later on when I had my Leica M4 I had a similar light meter for it. Nikon had made a selenium clip on meter for the Nikon F that coupled with the shutter speed and a prong on the lens iris ring. When Nikon went to a cadmium sulfide meter they incorporated it into an enlarged prism housing and the Photomic F was born. Instead of copying the reading to the iris ring you simply adjusted the shutter speed and iris ring to center a needle. The meter field of view could be changed by adding a tube that restricted it or a small opal disk could be used to take incident readings.

Front view of the Nikon FA

    The next step was to take the exposure reading through the taking lens. This would automatically correct for filter factor and bellows factor as well as transmission losses in the lens. The Topcon cameras were the first SLR cameras to utilize this feature and everyone else soon followed suit. My first SLR, the Pentax Spotmatic, was one of the early Thru The Lens (TTL) metered cameras. Turning on the meter stopped the lens down to shooting aperture and you then set the shutter speed and the iris to center the meter needle. There were no readouts in the viewfinder of the shutter speed or f-stops so you frequently had to pull your eye away from the viewfinder and check to make sure your setting were usable.

Top deck of the Canon A1.The ISO speed/Exposure Compensation control is concentric with the film rewind knob on the left side.

    Nikon had an advantage over most other camera makers in the fact that they had worked out a way to couple the iris ring with the metering system. So when they introduced the Photomic FT finder on the F camera you metered at full aperture and the shutter speed was shown in the finder. You had to set the lens maximum aperture against the film speed and the metering averaged the entire viewfinder area. The Photomic FTn finder introduce shortly afterward solved these problems by creating a mechanical indexing system. It was operated by rotating the aperture ring to either extreme. Aspheric lenses were added in front of the photocells to give the meter a center weighted sensitivity.

The picture above shows the AI set to Program AE mode. The Exposure mode lever is set to Tv  which exposes the shutter speed values. The value selected is P which means the shutter speed is automatically selected along with the aperture. If a shutter number value is selected then that would be the shutter speed and you would be in shutter priority mode.

The picture below shows the Exposure Mode lever set to Av position and the display of F-stops in the window instead of shutter speeds. The camera is now in aperture priority mode. To use manual mode you set the Exposure mode to Tv and set the lens to the desired aperture.

    Canon had stopped down metering in the FTb that I owned and I believe it had average metering. With the introduction of the Canon F1 the lens mount was modified to provide the necessary aperture information and full aperture metering was provided, but only with the new FD lenses. Canon also offered a special finder with metering for extremely low light as well as a different finder that could control the lens iris with a servo motor for fully automatic shutter speed priority metering. The light for the metering system came from a prism on the focusing screen. Different focusing screens provided different metering areas.

The main switch on the Pentax Super Program. The shutter is in M or manual mode and the two pushbuttons are used to select the shutter speed which is displayed in the LCD and in the viewfinder. If the lens is set to A then the camera is in shutter priority mode, but if an f stop is selected you are in manual mode.

    Nikon met the challenge of the Canon F1 with the Nikon F2. They first introduced a metering finder with a conventional meter with both shutter speed and lens aperture shown in the finder. This was followed by a finder with the meter replaced by two LED's on + and one - to indicate exposure. The also sold a servo unit to work with the LED finder that provided shutter priority automation. Later on they modified their lens mount to provide automatic indexing (no need to move the aperture ring to each extreme.

Top view of the right side of the Nikon FA. The Exposure Mode selector is in the A position. In A and P modes the shutter speed dial does not work. In P and S positions the lens must be set to the highest aperture value.

    Photo magazine journalists of this time spilt tons of ink on articles on the merits of averaging versus center weighted metering and stop down versus full aperture metering. They were careful not to draw any conclusions - after they didn't want to anger any camera makes and cut a source of advertising. I personally found that the center weighted, full aperture metering as practiced by Nikon to be my favorite.

 

Camera Exposure Automation - The beginnings.

    Konica was one of the first manufacturers with automated exposure control. They implemented a shutter speed priority system using a trap the needle mechanical system in their Autoreflex cameras. They produced excellent cameras and outstanding optics Alas poor Konica! Their marketing people were not near as good as their engineers and they have dropped completely out of the camera business.

    Pentax created their ES or Electro-Spotmatic camera as their auto exposure camera. This camera was a aperture priority system. It retained the screw thread lens mount which was obsolete by that time and it never sold well.

    Olympus Introduced the OM2 as their aperture priority camera and continued in the market place. The Olympus OM2 had and interesting feature in their meter display. When the control switch was in the manual exposure mode only the match needle was visible. Switch to the aperture priority automatic mode and a scale of shutter speeds appeared to show the camera selected shutter speed.

    Nikon introduced the Nikkormat EL as their first automate camera. I had aperture priority automation and worked with all the huge range of Nikkor lenses and most accessories. A version was introduced called the ELW that could take a winder.

    Canon produced their AE1 with shutter priority automation and had an instant hit on their hands. The was a very moderately priced camera designed to work with the wide range of FD series lenses. It had a low cost winder available and dominated the market.

    The idea behind exposure automation was to simplify the steps and knowledge needed to take a picture. Given the difference between centering or matching a needle and having the camera perform the same steps would appear to be a no brainer. This wasn't the case because many people pointed out that the metering systems at the time were easily fooled by back lighting and similar problems. As a result a manual exposure control capability was deemed necessary and all the first generation cameras provided it. When working in automatic mode two methods were developed to correct exposure problems - Exposure Lock and Exposure Compensation. Exposure lock is a control the locks the current exposure setting until the picture is taken. For instance with a backlit subject you would walk up to the subject and meter and lock the exposure setting, then move back and take the picture. Exposure compensation allows you to dial in an exposure correction factor - measured in f-stops to correct the exposure the meter selected. Cameras at first used just one method but some models provided both methods.

 

The Canon A1 - The first all exposure mode camera.

    In 1978 Canon introduced the Canon A1. It was the first all mode camera. It provided Shutter Priority Automation, Aperture Priority Automation, Program Automation, Flash Automation, and Manual Exposure. Build quality was better than the AE-1, though not quite up to the F1. A special motor drive was developed for the camera that could provide 5 frames per second. There was even a Data Back available that allowed imprinting on the film. The A1 was the advanced amateur camera in the canon line. It was replaced by the T90 in 1986.

Canon A1 mounted on it's motor drive. The white switch on the lower left puts the motor drive into 5 fps continuous mode to override other settings.

The Competition strikes back - The Pentax Super Program

    The next all mode cameras did not appear until 1983. Pentax introduced the Super Program Camera. I t represented a continuation of it line of compact cameras. It had all the modes of the A1 in a smaller lighter body. Pentax had gotten rid of the screw mount and replaced it wit the K mount bayonet. The Super program needed the new KA mount with electrical contacts to operate in Shutter Priority or Program Mode. A special motor drive was designed for this camera and a data back was available.

The Pentax Super Program with the Winder ME 2. This is an extremely compact unit.

A pioneering light meter design - The Nikon FA

    The same year that the Super Program was released by Pentax, Nikon released the FA. It was about the same size and weight as the A1 and was available in black or chrome. It was meant as a second tier camera right behind the F3. It was the first camera to offer what was later called matrix metering and had the best shutter of all three cameras. The camera was designed to work best with the new AIS lenses but had a great deal of capability with older lens mounts. A special motor drive was released for the camera and it took the same data back as the FM2 and FE2. It was replaced by the N8008 in 1988.

The Nikon FA mounted on the MD-15. This dedicated motor drive can power the camera as well as itself. It was only produced for a short time since the MD-12 motor drive was usable on many different cameras and was only recently discontinued.

A comparison of features - For the Specification addicts.

Camera Canon A1 Pentax Super
Program
Nikon FA
Release year 1978 1983 1983
Meter Pattern Center weighted Center weighted AMP 5 element,
Center weighted
Exposure Range (EV) -2 to 18 1-19 1-20
ISO range 6 to 12800 6 to 3200 12 to 4000
Exposure compensation range 1/4 to 4x 1/4 to 4x 1/4 to 4x
Display type LED LCD LCD
Battery 1 x 6v 2 x 1.5v or 1 x3v 2 x 1.5v or 1 x3v
Shutter type and materiel Horizontal
rubberized  cloth
Vertical metal Vertical titanium
honeycomb
Shutter speed range 30 sec to 1/1000 15 sec to 1/2000 1 sec to 1/4000
Flash sync speed 1/60 1/125 1/250
No battery shutter speeds None None 1/250, B
Self Timer 2 or 10 sec electronic 12 sec electronic 8 to 14 sec mechanical
pre fires mirror
Viewfinder coverage 89% 92% 93%
Viewfinder magnification .82X .83X .80X
Eyepiece shutter yes no yes
Exposure lock yes no no
Multiple Exposure yes no yes
Wind lever pre/throw 30/120 30/135 30/135
TTL Flash Yes Yes Yes
Interchangeable focus screens no no yes
Dimensions mm 141 x 91.5 x 47.5 131 x 86.5 x 47.5 142.5 x 92 x 64.5
Weight grams 620 490 625

    As you can see from the table above the cameras all feature center weighted metering. The FA had a more pronounce center weighting system, but the FA also introduced a new metering system to take over the industry. The new metering system was originally called Automatic Multi-Pattern metering or AMP. The name was changed to matrix metering later on and was copied by all the other SLR manufacturers. In the FA the viewfinder was divided into 5 areas and the readings for each area compared to a look up of similar reference exposures and a final value was reached. This system has been improved on,: more segments were added, switches were added to sense whether the camera was vertical or horizontal, subject distance information was used in the lookup and color information was evaluated. All these improvements to the matrix metering system were added in newer models than the FA, but it pioneered the system.

    The Canon A1 has the best low light level metering system of all three cameras. The shutter has the slowest shutter speeds to support it, going all the way to thirty seconds. The Pentax Super Program is in the middle with fifteen seconds as the slowest shutter speed and in a first for Pentax a top speed of 1/2000 of a second. The Nikon has the most advanced shutter design with a shutter that can reach 1/4000 of a second but on the low end only reaches 1 second. even though the Nikon FE2 has the same shutter and can be set to a maximum of eight seconds Nikon choose not to provide the slower speeds in the FA. I suspect the reason for this is due to limitations in the metering system and it's low light sensitivity. The shutter in the A1 represents the oldest technology - it is a rubberized cloth horizontal shutter that reminds me of the early Leicas. It is electronically controlled but as a result has no manual backup speeds, if the battery dies so does the camera. The Pentax has a vertical metal shutter that is also electronically controlled and also dies with the battery. This leads to my biggest gripe about the Pentax Super Program - the shutter speed is controlled by two buttons one to increase speed and one to decrease it. This system was carried over from the ME series where the only way you could tell your shutter speed was by looking in the viewfinder. The Super Program did add an LCD on top of the camera that displays shutter speed. The next year after the introduction of the Super Program, on the Program Plus they did away with the top LCD. The Nikon FA has a conventional shutter speed dial with an M250 setting. If the battery goes dead you can still take pictures at 1/250 of a second or B. As far as fastest flash sync speed the Nikon wins at 1/250, the Pentax follows at 1/125, and the Canon with its ancient shutter design can only manage 1/60 of a second.

    All three cameras provide self timers. The A1 has the control on the main power switch, a choice of two seconds or 10 seconds is provided and is electronically timed with an LED on the top of the camera flashing to indicate self timer operation. The Super Program has a switch on the front that you slide to the right. Turning the self timer on exposes an LED that flashes to indicate operation. In contrast to the other two camera the FA has conventional mechanical self timer in the usual spot on the front of the camera. it can bet set for eight to fourteen seconds and indicates operation with the mechanical noise it makes. The FA also raises the mirror when the self timer first activates. This allows the vibration caused by the mirror to dampen out. Since none of the 3 cameras has a mirror lockup function this feature can be used as a substitute. Only the Nikon has this feature and I wish they had kept it in newer cameras.

    The viewfinders of the three cameras all have similar specifications. The Canon shows the least amount of the picture area and is in the middle in magnification. The Pentax has the highest magnification. The Nikon shows the greatest amount of image area and the least magnification. The overall result is the viewfinder image looks the same size in all three cameras. None of the cameras has a diopter adjustment, and only the Nikon and the Canon have an eyepiece shutter.

    Only the A1 has an exposure lock button, all of the cameras have an exposure compensation dial with a range of +/-2 f-stops. The exposure compensation dial has a lock on the Canon and the Nikon, the Pentax does not. The Pentax and the Nikon provide an indication in the viewfinder when an exposure compensation value has been dialed in. The Pentax exposure compensation dial is the easiest to use due to its shape.

    The wind systems on all three cameras are similar with thirty degree pre-throw and similar movement distances. All three are non-ratcheting, you cannot use several short strokes to wind the film, only one long one. The Canon and the Nikon provide a double exposure lever, the Pentax does not. The Pentax and the Nikon have a switch that's coupled to the film counter and until the film is wound the shutter is set to a high speed no mater what exposure mode the camera is in. Without this feature when you fire the shutter while advancing the film to frame one and have the lens cap on you will not be stuck waiting for an automatic shutter speed to time out.

    Lifting the rewind knob opens the back for film loading on all three cameras. Only the FA has a lock lever to prevent this from being done accidentally. Below the rewind knob is the dial for setting the film speed. The A1 has the greatest range of film speeds with the Pentax second and the FA having the most limited range. This being said the range on the Nikon is greater than the range of film I have ever used.

    The Nikon FA is the only camera with user interchangeable focusing screens. The Canon screen can be changed by a repairman and Pentax makes no mention of other screens being available.

 

Through the viewfinder - What information the viewfinder provides.

    All three cameras provide and unobstructed viewfinder. All the information provided is outside of the image area. The Nikon FA puts the information above the image and the other two put the information below the image.

    The A1 has red LED seven segment displays for shutter speed on the left and F-stop on the right. A flash ready light in the form of the letter F will appear between the shutter speed and the F-stop and a Letter M will appear on the right side of the F-stop when in manual mode. In manual mode the F-stop display shows the metered F-stop not the value set on the lens. The brightness of the LCD is controlled by the metering system and adjust itself automatically for the surrounding light conditions. The meter updates the display ever half second, so allow time for it to settle when changing subject. The meter itself does respond instantly so the exposure will be correct even if the display is lagging.

    With the Pentax Super Program there are two LCD Displays in the viewfinder and a third on top of the camera. The top mounted LCD displays the shutter speed With a P on the left if you are in program mode and a camera cocked indicator on the right side. The is nearly identical to the left hand LCD in the viewfinder except the viewfinder display has a flash ready indicator rather than  a camera cocked indicator. The right hand viewfinder LCD display changes its display according to what exposure mode you are in. in Program mode or Shutter Priority mode this display shows the F-stop selected by the camera. In Aperture Priority mode is shows nothing. In Manual mode it show a + and/or a-  sign with digits of from 0 to 3. a display or + and - and 0 says the camera setting match what the camera's meter considers the correct exposure. A -3 and +3 are the extremes of the scale. If yow place the camera in program mode and mount a compatible TTL flash unit the left hand display will display a shutter speed of 1/125 second and a flash ready signal and the right hand display will display the f-Stop selected by the flash. The flash information is only displayed when the flash is ready. during recycling the displays will show the meter reading used in Program mode with no flash. The right hand LCD display also has the exposure compensation correction indicator. This consists of the letters EF that are displayed in any mode when the exposure compensation dial is not on the 1X position. Since LCD's need an external source of illumination a white plastic window is located of the front of the prism housing. If external lighting is inadequate there an illuminator button located on the left side of the meter box that also turns on the meter while pressed.

    For all of its electronics the Nikon FA has only one LCD display that changes function with the metering mode selected. The display appears on the left hand side above the viewfinder image. A red LED to its left is the flash ready indicator and to the right of the LCD is the ADR window. ADR is the Aperture Direct Readout system that Nikon introduced with it's AI series lenses. It's a prism system the displays the F-stop value read off of the lens barrel and magnified in the viewfinder so it is large enough to read. The values are read from a tiny set of numbers adjacent to the lens mount.. The system works great for prime lenses and fixed aperture zooms. Low light can make it difficult to read the value and variable aperture zooms make the system useless. The ADR window is blocked from view when in Program or Shutter priority modes. A second LED is located to the right of the viewfinder image indicates when the exposure compensation dial is not in the 0 position.. When the camera is in Program mode the LCD displays the selected shutter speed. When you switch to Shutter Priority mode the LCD will show the camera selected F-stop, unless the camera has decided to override you selected shutter speed, in which case it will display the camera selected speed Also when in shutter priority mode a window will open to the right of the ADR window and will display the selected shutter speed.. Select Aperture Priority mode and the LCD displays the meter selected shutter speed. In Manual mode the display will show the user selected shutter speed with the letter M and a Plus (+) and /or Minus (-) symbol. when both the + and - appear the correct exposure is set. .

 

Rev it up - Motor drives and winders

    Motor drive cameras were originally high priced specialty items that originally used special models of a camera or required a repair shop to install. The Canon F1 and the Nikon F2 introduced easy add on motor drives. The Canon AE-1 and the Nikkormat ELW were capable of adding a simple low cost winder that would advance the film after each shot. These winders proved very popular and helped sell their respective cameras. Since all three of the cameras in this article are high end cameras, positioned as second place to the manufacturers professional models these cameras all introduced their own motor drives.

The Canon Motor Drive MA with the batter pack attached. Attaching the motor drive requires removing the battery pack, attaching the motor then re-attaching the battery pack.

    The Canon Motor Drive MA was designed for the Canon A1. It has a blistering 5 fps film advance rate as well as a slower 3.5 fps rate and a single frame mode. There were two battery packs available, a 12 AA battery pack and a fixed battery ni-cad pack. Both the motor drive and the battery pack have control buttons, with the battery pack control positioned as a vertical release. The mode control is on the bottom of the battery pack. The motor drive is first attached to the camera with the battery pack removed. To do this the cover over the mechanical connection needs to be removed from the camera. There is a storage clip on the motor drive to keep from misplacing the cover. After the motor drive is attached the battery pack is attached to the motor drive. With twelve AA batteries in the pack the combination is heavier than any of the other models. A unique feature of this system is a switch that instantly switches the motor to high speed (5 fps)  while it is pressed.

Canon winder A2. It provides a wide base for the camera. It provides continuous shooting as well as single frame operation.

    The Canon A1 also works with the Winder A made for the Canon AE1. This is a box powered by 4 AA batteries that attaches to the bottom of the camera and advances the film when the shutter button is released. is is incapable of continuous shooting. When Canon introduced the AE1 Program two years after the A1, the Winder A2 was introduced for the AE1 Program, but it also works with the A1. The Winder A2 provides a wider base for the camera and provides both single and continuous shooting modes. The maximum continuous shooting speed is only 2 fps.

    Pentax introduced the Motor Drive A for the Super Program. It is similar in design to the Canon Motor Drive A1 in that it has two parts, the motor drive itself and the battery pack. There is no separate ni-cad battery pack but ni-cads can be used in the regular pack which takes 8 AA batteries. The Motor Drive A has a maximum continuous filming speed of 3.5 fps at the H setting and 2 fps at the L setting. Single frame operation is also provided. A unique feature is the availability of a battery pack cord that allows the photographer to keep the batteries warm in cold weather. There is a release button on the motor drive and a second one on the battery pack. this allow remote operation from the battery pack as well as serving as a vertical release when the battery pack is mounted on the camera.

    Pentax also made the Super Program compatible with the ME Winder 2. This is a small light unit that runs on 4 AA batteries. It provides a 2 fps continuous speed as well as single frame mode. The combination grip, control and motor section sit in front of the camera and provides a handy grip on the camera. It works so well that few of the motor drives were sold and the winder is much more readily available on the used market.

    Nikon also introduce a special motor drive for the FA, the MD-15. It was the last separate motor drive to be introduced by Nikon since they started building the motors into cameras. The MD-15 is a single piece unit with the battery holder built into the bottom of the unit. The battery clip hold 8 AA batteries. The MD-15 is capable of 3.5 fps as well as single frame shooting. The MD-15 also has a battery check switch and LED, a feature none of the others has. Another capability of the MD-15 is ability to power the FA's internal circuitry allow the cameras internal batteries to be removed if the MD-15 is kept on the camera.

    The FA is also compatible with the Nikon MD-11 and its improved model the  MD-12. The MD-12 has been produced up until recently since the FM3 uses it. The MD-12 is compatible with the the FM, FE, FA, FM2, FE2 and FM3 models.  It has a speed of 2.7 fps as well as single frame mode.

Maker Canon Canon Pentax Pentax Nikon Nikon
Model Motor Drive MA Winder A2 Motor Drive A Winder ME 2 MD-15 MD-12
Batteries 12 4 8 4 8 8
Max speed fps 5 2 3.5 2 3.5 2.7
Separate Battery Pack yes no yes no no no
Battery check no no no no yes no
Remote release yes yes yes yes yes yes
Powers camera no no no no yes no
Cover holder yes yes yes yes yes no
             

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And here's the rub - Lens compatibility

    So you've just introduced the do every thing multimode SLR. Can it work with your current lenses or do you need to add a new thing to your lens mount? Are you fully or partially backward compatible? How are your users going to react to a lens mount redesign? Are they going to buy new lenses or give up and go to another manufacturer? Remember when you buy into a camera system you have to consider the entire system. That fancy new camera can be real expensive if you have to replace your glass too.

The upper picture show the lens mount on an older model FD lens. The lens is mounted by placing it against the camera and turning the silver ring to lock it into place. This system is known as the best lens mount method.

The lower picture show the lens mount on a newer FD lens. With these lenses the whole lens is turned rather than a ring. The lens release is mounted on the lens rather than the camera body.

    The Canon A1 is designed to work with Canon FD series lenses. The FD lens mount variation was introduced with the F1 eight years previous to the A1's introduction. If you had earlier FL lenses you could use them in stop down mode. Canon had the best lens mount design with their breech lock design. The design was the reverse of the bayonet lens mount adopted by most other manufacturers. The lens was held up against the camera and a ring on the lens was rotated to lock the lens to the camera. The ring locked against the rear of the mounting prongs on the camera and the only wear to the mount was in this area.  After the introduction of  the A1 Canon cheapened the lens mount by turning it into a true reverse bayonet. You hold the lens to the camera body and rotate the lens clockwise to lock it into place on the camera. The rotation would wear on the lens mount and each lens had to have a locking mechanism, rather than having one on the camera body. Canon also use more plastic in theses new lenses so they were lighter, but felt cheaper. Canon lenses also have the longest mechanical coupling pins protruding from the rear of the lens. The main thing is that the lenses in wide use at the time of the A1's release were fully compatible with the A1.

Lens mount on the Pentax Super Program. The electrical contacts are in a different location than those on the earlier ME-F camera.

    Pentax had started making SLR cameras when the other Japanese camera makers were still making rangefinder cameras. They chose to use the Praktica screw mount for their lens mount. The replaced this mount in the seventies with the K mount. The Super Program was designed with an improved lens mount in mind which they called the KA mount. Pentax added electrical contact to their mount to pass Iris information to the camera. The Super program will only work in Program and Shutter Priority mode with a KA lens mounted. If you are using an older K mount lens you can only use Aperture Priority or Manual mode.

The lens mount of a Nikon AF-D lens. This lens retains full compatibility with the AIS lens specification and can be used on any Nikon SLR camera.

    Nikon introduce their F mount in 1959 when they introduced the Nikon F. Their lenses had an external prong that couple with their metering system and by the late sixties you simply rotated the iris ring of a lenses to its extremes to set the maximum aperture. In 1977 the AI system was introduced and it did not require moving the aperture ring. From about 1981 on some new lenses coming from Nikon had addition coupling devices installed. since no cameras used these couplings there was a great deal of speculation as to their purpose. The new mount specification was called the AIS mount and the FA was the first camera designed to use it. While the AIS mount provides additional information to the FA, it will work in all modes with any AI lens .You cannot use any pre-AI lens with an aperture ring unless it has been modified to AI form.

 

If we could do it over - What I would have done differently

    I have spent all this time telling you about these three cameras. Now I'll give you the list of changes I would have made in the design. I list the change for each camera in order of importance.

Canon A1

1. Use a metal blade vertical travel shutter with a 1/125 sync speed and if possible a 1/2000 shutter speed.

 2. Modify the program mode so that when the shutter speed drops to 1/60 second it will stay there until the maximum aperture is reached. This will greatly improve low light shooting in Program mode.

3. Change the ASA setting and exposure compensation knob to make it easier to use. The tiny recessed button that releases the ASA setting is hard to use and the exposure compensation lock is difficult also.

4. Add an exposure compensation indicator in the viewfinder.

5. Reduce the motor drive speed to 3.5 fps and make it run on 8 AA batteries. This will make the motor drive lighter and reduce wear on the camera.

 

Pentax Super Program

1. Get rid of the shutter speed buttons. A jog wheel or even a conventional shutter speed dial would be an improvement over the two buttons.

2. Make it fully compatible with K mount lenses in all modes.

3. Change the lock button on the shutter dial to make it easier to use.

4. Modify the P indication to also show S, A and M as appropriate. This will provide the user with a quick check of the metering mode

5. Add an exposure memory lock button..

 

Nikon FA

1. Change the viewfinder display. Remove the ADR and the right side shutter speed display. Add a second LCD or extend the existing one to the right. Display exposure mode, shutter speed, aperture, flash ready and exposure compensation on.

2. Extend the metering range and add slower shutter speeds down to at least 8 seconds.

3. Modify the metering mode switch. the current one is just ridiculous. A switch on the prism housing like the F4 would be nice. If you invented the most advanced metering system flaunt it.

4. Add an exposure memory lock button.

5 Add an illuminator button for the LCD display.

6. Enlarge the Exposure compensation knob and remove the lock button.

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