Canon EF (film camera) and my most expensive photograph

canon ef camera portrait and a blue shadow

Canon EF camera portrait and a blue shadowCanon EF camera portrait and a blue shadow

From 2014 I’ve used a Canon EF camera to shoot 135mm film. I discovered some days ago that it has a little defect therefore I cannot use it again. So I thought I could give some thoughts about this camera, more considering that there is no much data and when you search for this model instead the search end with Canon EF lenses.


This camera was produced, according to Wikipedia, between 1973 to 1978 for the Canon FD mount that uses lenses with manual focus, I’m not in a hurry and that’s fine with my style, even more those lenses are cheaper because they aren’t compatible with modern Canon Cameras that use EF mount lenses. Its most notorious characteristic to me is that it has a shutter priority design, so you can set the mounted lens in automatic, then you set the shutter and the camera chooses the aperture. Actually I just shot in manual, choosing the shutter speed and the aperture.

It’s not a simple camera as you can see:

canon ef camera repair a

anatomy lesson

One thing in what it’s better than the most of cameras of its age is that the shutter speed goes to thirty seconds, wow!, usually the cameras of those times gave you from one to four seconds as minimum shutter speed so if you want a SLR camera with classic dials and design but not limited to have to use another tool, a light meter, then it’s your camera. The maximum shutter speed is 1/2000.

It’s everything you would need as mirror lock up, self timer, depth of field preview, or multiple exposures, to develop your creativity and nothing unnecessary. The only thing I’d love to have would be an interchangeable viewfinder because for my way to shooting I use much waist level style but that was reserved to the higher end model Canon F-1. This camera was thought for old people that would appreciate the simplicity of this machine, simplicity that goes in a pure design.



black beauty

This camera is also known as the black beauty. And it has a gorgeous design. Pure metal with strong and proportioned lines. The plastic cameras although not so elegant are easier to clean. Said that there is a great defect I chose to correct: it has a plastic covering with a faux texture of leather. As a designer I don’t like that my designs lie. If you do something with plastic then give it a nice texture of plastic; if you put a leather texture then use real leather. Hence I bought a thin layer of leather and repaired it until it was according to my desire. Also I painted the white letters to avoid reflections when using graduated filters and also to don’t draw the attention upon me. I’m not a collector, nor a photographer, so I took utilitarian decisions. This was the body before:

canon ef repair b


And this is the body now:

canon ef camera yellow a

canon ef camera yellow b

canon ef camera yellow c

canon ef camera yellow d




It feels nice in the hand, and although it’s not a little camera it’s not so huge as the cameras with autofocus of later years.

The design is so clean that in the top of the body the shutter button, the shutter speed dial and the winding lever are integrated in one component; so you can shot very quickly. Actually I found it quicker than, for example, the Fujifilm X-E1 that although uses design clues of mechanical cameras the operation is slower, and harder to rotate the shutter dial and move your finger to press the shutter. In this old machine the shutter is an extension of your finger.

canon ef camera top

See the shutter dial, the designers put it in an ergonomic way so to rotate it you just pass your finger; something so simple but so quick as to use a modern dial because you can leave your eye in the viewfinder without need to divert your attention to check the dial. The flash shoe cover can be used to cover the viewfinder when long exposures.

The viewfinder in the first models had a microprism filter as a focusing aid, it’s a bit uncomfortable so I got another with a split screen. I shot it but it’s not so clear as I’d like it:

canon ef camera viewfinder

Canon EF viewfinder with split screen. Data of shutter and lens aperture.

Taking photographs

canon EF camera sky

It would be a pleasure to shot it.

The best results I got it with tripod, a simple and standard shutter release cable and a three bubble level. The photograph took in that moment with the camera is this:

two clouds talk

Two clouds talk

Sadly there is a problem that I couldn’t repair nor identify; quite probably only the slow velocities of the shutter were working. So I got several ghostly photos, usually the long exposures are right. This is the kind of photos I get:

memory of an old building


Some good ones are these:

inquisitive whiteness

Inquisitive whiteness

yellow end of the world

yellow end of the world

neogothic echoes

neogotic echoes

follow my steps

follow my steps

As you can see the fire went perfect:



My most expensive photograph

Days ago I travelled to a lagoon so I took my digital camera and the Canon EF with a 50mm and 135mm lens. I walked a lot and in the end the weight of the two cameras were slowing me. But I finished a Portra 160 roll of film because the beautiful landscapes, so I was anxious to see the results: there were just one sucessful photograph, the rest where just overexposed till being just white…

This photograph is the survivor:

sad norse funeral

sad Norse funeral

So… How much that photograph costs?

  • Eighty dollars to repair the camera.
  • Fifty dollars in batteries to replace the old PX625.
  • Thirty dollars in rolls.
  • Fifty dollars in lab processing.

Then the total would be two hundred and ten dollars. So I decided to buy a cheap but more modern lightweight and compact camera, in Peru is harder to get technical service and to the places I need or want to go I can’t take so much weight. But if you are in other place and have access to a well working unit then it’s a highly recommended camera.

It’s a black beauty.

43 thoughts on “Canon EF (film camera) and my most expensive photograph

    1. Actually yesterday I finished a roll of Kodak proimage 200 in a Samsung ECX-1 from my travel to the sea, crossing fingers to see if they ended well :S (test shots to prove the camera) and also I finished the setup I designed to “scan” my negatives with my camera. Thanks for your visit James, wishing you a new great weekend :-)

  1. Thanks for the article, I also love this camera. But since some time I have a huge particle sitting somewhere on my focusing screen. Do you know how to access this space between the eye piece and the screen? If I could just blow a little bit of air inside….

    1. Hello Jan. If you have patience and screwdrivers it’s accessible. Search in google “Canon E-F Service Manual” I downloaded it and it’s quite complete to show how to disassemble the camera step by step, that’s the manual I used. I searched but I cannot find the link with the free download (the others links are for pay but they are mirroring data that they found in internet too) I hope you can solve for tranquility that particle.

  2. Thanks for that quick answer! After searching yesterday for 2 hours I found the service manual. But it is hard to understand what to do for accessing the screen. Do I have to desolder some cables?

    1. Oh, I see. Well, basically there are two ways to see the focusing screen. One is seeing above the mirror, of course that’s not the problem because for gravity and cleaning that particle should be gone; the other route is disassembling the pentaprism, the viewfinder there has two little screws, the cables aren’t fixed or glued directly upon the pentaprism so there is no need to desolder cables.
      Actually I tried to see the focusing screen but the problem was that some screws are quite solidly set in the mechanism.
      In any case I suggest you, if it’s in your possibilities, that a technician can clean it for you. If for a mistake you would broke, i.e., the bond between ISO and shutter then the cleaning could end bad.
      Said that the focusing screen is under the pentaprism, perhaps you could retire just the part above the pentaprism and blow air around the gaps and see if it’s gone (I don’t remember well but I think the viewfinder can stay and there is no need to retire it.
      Personally if the camera is working I’d suggest to don’t risky it opening. In any case good luck.

    2. Hi Jan,

      The EF Service manual on the baytan website tells you how to remove the pentaprism without touching the flex circuit on top. There are only four (4) screws which hold the complete pentaprism + the flex circuit on top, and those are removed as a block. But for that you need to first desolder about 5 cables, which are the ones who will impede removal of the unit.

      WARNING: there is an IC on the service manual, which on the actual camera is marked “Toshiba”, this is the IC for the photometer. It is a mosfet device so it’s extremely sensitive to static discharges, so if you live in a dry weather make sure you discharge your hands by the appropiate method (i.e. touching a big block of metal or a ground connection).

  3. I’ll first finish the roll of film in the camera and maybe after that open it. The particle is really a pain. I think giving it to any technician will cost me more than breaking the camera. Have to think about it but anyway thanks alot!

    1. Oh, I had the same problem, in the end I bough a spare one and replaced the parts I needed. You’re welcome, I hope have been of some help. Greetings from Peru.

  4. Nice to meet you. His also owns a Canon EF. And I think it tries to decomposition because of overhaul, but it does not come off the shutter dial part. What will be able to remove it? Thank you your professor.

    1. Hi Inoue, nice to meet you too. I think you are using an online translator, I hope to understand you well because English is not my native language.
      If I understand well the shutter dial of your Canon EF is stuck and you cannot pull it off. To retire it I used a rubber band so I could grab the plastic part without breaking it, the rubber band goes around the shutter so you can grab it with more comfort. I hope it is useful to you.
      There is also a manual in PDF to repair, it´s online and it´s called “Canon EF – service Manual”

      1. 〒Francis.R. says:
        Thank you very much. Translation only apologize to that might be hard to understand is unusable. The plastic parts of the shutter dial release rod of turning rubber, etc.? It is that can be done to open in the thing. I think to try to work from now.So it but raise is a confirmation?

      2. You’re welcome. I’m sorry to don’t help in a better way but I think you are right. I confirm to use a rubber bad to grab the plastic part of the shutter dial. Could you write in your language and in English so I can translate to be sure?

    1. Yes, that’s the manual I was writing about. Here is I think I found it here
      The shutter dial has so many years, please, give see first the manual, it has a lot of photos and not so many words so you are going to understand it. It shows how to disamble the shutter dial.
      The shutter in my camera seemed to be stuck too but bit by bit I could pull off it grabbing with safety using the rubber band, otherwise there is danger to break the plastic of the dial.
      Hope you can understand. See the manual first and try to open the camera later, so you are not going to put it in risk.

      1. 〒FRANCIS.R.
        Thank you ! \(^o^)/
        Plastic glab..ok!
        I my best Canon EF.
        I don’t know EF camera then remove time… >FRANCIS.R. Please Canon EF.
        This →←Good Place.
        Thank you.

      2. ありがとうございますfor your kind words Inoue (•̀ᴗ•́)و ̑̑
        I hope your camera is well now.
        Greetings from Peru.

    1. Thanks man, some robbers got into my house and they took my Canon EF. So it seems now there is another Peruvian in ownership of that elegant camera. :T
      Kind regards.

      1. That Canon EF was in my possession since 3 years ago, then I sold it to a friend, then I bought it back, so it can’t be your stolen camera. I don’t know if you speak spanish (or are peruvian) but if you want you can write me.

      2. Hi, Flavio. Yes, I am Peruvian and I speak Spanish, if you want you can use it. : )
        Of course I wouldn’t think our cameras are the same, don’t worry xP That’s a very nice and elegant camera, but as I shot landscape it was a bit in the heavy side I am afraid, so I bought a plastic one… Kind regards.

  5. Me resultó muy interesante el post. Tengo una Black Beauty con un 50 mm 1.4, en perfectas condiciones. Filtro UV y parasol original. Yo la encuentro similar a mi Leicaflex SL2, (salvando las distancias) tomando en cuenta el visor, peso y solidez. Esta EF me ha dado muchas satisfacciones. Cordialmente,

    1. Hola, Don Conejo. Gracias por el comentario, y mil disculpas por el tiempo pasado en acusar recibo.
      1.4, debe tener un precioso bokeh. Me he comprado una Canon EOS 7, la hicieron en el 2000, la Canon EF era una perfección manual pero se me hace demasiado complicado conseguir baterías, o conseguir un modelo que funcione sin problemas.
      Saludos : )

  6. I am always nervous about opening my camera, I do not see clearly, I am not a tidy home owner and I have two long haired cats. When I work on my cameras I take great care in cleaning dust, dirt and cat fur from my ‘work table’ (A well lit counter top in the bathroom) and then I run a quick hot shower too so that steam in the air can catch and settle out any remaining dust motes before I put the camera on shutter lock and start to work.

    Your post is timely and interesting because just last week I was thinking of buying another D7000 body so I’d have 2. Although I have someone who wants to buy my D80 body, a beautiful workhorse, I suspect it may be dying as it has done random things like change the time setting. I was thinking maybe after buying that second back up D7000 body, I could open up the D80 and practice cleaning the diopter and any other gummed up parts. Right now my D7000 has a large clump of I don’t know what, but it obstructs my view and is annoying when I’m framing a shot. The clump does not affect the final shot. I don’t want to pay someone else a lot of money for something I can do myself if I just figure it out and maybe practice on another camera. You inspire me.

    1. It’s amazing to see the innards of a camera, the shell is made to have curves to fit our hands and they hide inside a little electronic world of complexity.
      If my experiences showed me something these are my suggestions: get a repair manual, there are on internet in PDF; also a search in youtube is useful as there are persons that record how to repair cameras; also is useful to work over a red fabric so the little pieces are visible and working, and lastly I take photographs to don’t forget how to put again the pieces together, that’s because I have not good memory.
      Good luck, Kim. I hope it ends well and sure it’s going to be a fascinating adventure. Greetings from far away. : )

  7. I have recently added a nice Canon EF body to my F1n that I have used since 1990. I have a small collection of FD Breechlock lenses 28/35/50/135/100-200 and I am amazed at what the EF offers, even today. No problems with incorrect battery, I am frequently distrustful of the F1 n meter as the 1.35v Mercury battery is banned. EF has a circuit so we can use 1.5/1.55 alkaline cells or 1.4v silver oxides. Full viewfinder readout of shutter speed and aperture selected by meter in auto. Metering avoids sky influence. The perfect choice for today and far cheaper than Nikon F and F2 with non-functioning Photomic heads (that needed mercury batteries) as did the manual Nikkormats.

    1. Thank you for your comment, David. Time after the loss of my Canon EF I got from ebay a Canon 7e, I just decided the issue of the batteries was quite important as in Peru they are hard to get. Canon F1n is also I camera I was considering a time, the FD mount has so many jewels… Thank you for your share your experience. : )

  8. Hello

    Does the Canon ef always have a split screen (circle) viewfinder?

    like in

    The reason I ask because I have 2 EF one with split circle and one without. I was wondering if one is right and one is not? The one with split circle has an electronic defect (light meter). And I like the split circle (for speed). So I wonder if I should change the screen.

    Thanks for the help

    1. Hello, Peter. I had two EF before and one as well with split screen and the other not. Both are right, what happened is that the split circle was a feature added in later models and that is according to the serial code.
      So far I understand that the screen is not interchangeable in the EF model as it is in the F-1 model. I prefer too as well the split circle version.
      Kind regards,
      Francis. : )

  9. Very much enjoyed this write up – beautiful camera :-)
    When I moved from my film to digital, it was a difficult move – but one decision I am happy with.
    Still, it is nice to pick up my old Canon.

    1. I can relate, I have another Canon film camera, although one with EF mount to use with a Canon digital if I get one. I am glad you liked it ^_^

      1. I’m now pretty much sold on mirrorless cameras which Canon, in my opinion, is lagging behind its competitors. Sony’s Alpha 7R series has been impressive for me (and very convenient to carry). Still love my Mark III and incredible Canon lenses, but using them less and less granted mainly due to a higher amount of travel for me. I do like this camera of yours, though :-) I could switch back to film with it…

      2. It is quite heavy and loud, the batteries are hard to find and, well, I think after it I enjoyed the marvels of plastic xD I am always attracted to compact cameras, and my cameras actually for price tend to be from 2012 or before secondhand. I could not afford a modern camera nor the lenses I would like for it. I have heard about Sony advantages for sure, I had a Sony R1 from 2005 that (except the colors) was perfect. Thank you. ^^

    1. Thank you, Inese! I agree very much. Now I have a modern Canon Eos 7 film camera. I am taking some photos with it, but I don’t have scanner or a good camera to process the negatives. The laboratory scan is very poor (not blaming them, few persons develop negatives so there is not experience) but with patience there will be a solution.
      Wishing you well, dear Inese. Nice day ahead ^-^

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