2other Canon cameras in my collection:

 

JapanCanon EX EE QL [1969 - 1972]

 

Overview

The EX EE is a 35mm SLR camera targeted at discerning amateurs. It combines the latest innovations of 1969 with some old ideas, and then adds its own quirks.

  • The modern is open aperture TTL metering, and shutter-speed priority auto exposure.
  • The old is a fixed lens, to which a selection of front mounting auxiliary lenses can be attached to provide an f/1.8 50mm standard, f/3.5 35mm wide angle, and f/3.5 95mm portrait lenses. An f/3.5 125mm telephoto became available shortly after the EX EE was launched.
  • The quirks are: the aperture is manually set on a dial around the base of the rewind crank, plus it has an aerial image viewfinder.

EX EE ASA dialThe EX EE has some normal features: a focal plane shutter with horizontally travelling cloth blinds, offering shutter speeds from 1/8th to 1/500th sec., plus B, and delayed-action. X synchronisation for flash is at 1/60th second, with connection via a cold shoe and a PC socket.

Typically for the time, it is necessary to dial-in the maximum aperture of the lens being used in order to correctly calibrate meter readings. This simply requires choosing one of two setting marks on the film speed dial (one for the f/1.8 standard lens, and another for any f/3.5 lens). The metering is un-Canon-like; a centre weighted averaging pattern. Again commonplace for the time, the meter performs within a limited range of light levels, which means extreme shutter speed and aperture combinations are not always within the performance parameters of the meter coupling range. When lighting conditions are outside of the meter's limits, this is signalled by the viewfinder pointer indicating under exposure. With very slow films (25 ASA) 1/500th sec., is unavailable, and with fast films (800 ASA) speeds below 1/60th cannot be used (with the standard lens fitted). The slower auxiliary lenses increase the coupling limitations further, such that only 1/250th or 1/500th are available with 500 ASA films.

EX EE aperture dialWhen the rewind crank based aperture selection dial is set to EE (auto-exposure), a viewfinder pointer indicates the aperture the camera will select. The pointer primarily serves to warn of under or over exposure - consequential to the shutter speed chosen by the user. The dial scale only indicates the maximum and minimum of the f/1.8 to f/16 range, so the aperture size actually selected is determined through observation of the viewfinder pointer. Manual aperture settings therefore effectively disable the light meter.

The aerial image viewfinder is a feature that arises from the use of a plain, rather than ground glass, for the focusing screen. In other words, the focusing screen is not a screen at all, but more akin to a lens. Accordingly, images are viewed aerially (not on a screen) as in viewfinder cameras. The consequence of this is the view through the lens always appears to be in focus, regardless of the distance setting; just like looking through a viewfinder. This arrangement provides a bright image, but focusing has to be accomplished entirely within a small rangefinder micro-prism spot. Obviously, it is impossible to preview the DOF.

The EX EE, with a standard lens only, was priced at £99 - 19s - 8d (Amateur Photographer magazine - June 1970), which made it marginally less expensive than the more versatile Canon FT. I believe the auxiliary lenses were also marginally less expensive. This resulted in few sales of the EX EE, leading to relative scarcity today, along with the re-badged Bell & Howell Auto 35/Reflex made for the USA market. Nevertheless, the EX EE was replaced by the EX Auto in 1972. The newer model automatically detects the maximum aperture of the different lens front-groups, and therefore has a single film speed setting mark.

 

Specifications

Lens mount: Fixed 3 element lens with supplementary screw-fit front elements.

Canon EX EE viewfinderFocus: 0.9x magnification (with 50mm lens). Unknown coverage. Aerial viewfinder with micro-prism rangefinder centre spot.

Shutter: Horizontal-travel focal-plane cloth curtains. Speeds 1/8th to 1/500th, +B and approx. 10 second self-timer.

Meter: Single CdS cell, open aperture, TTL, center-weighted averaging metering.

Exposure: Shutter speed priority automatic exposure with viewfinder needle-pointer which shows the aperture the camera will selection, plus under/over exposure warning zones. Manual override is possible, in which case the pointer indicates the aperture preferentially selected, and does not provide a light level reading.

Film Speed: 25 to 800 ASA with f/1.8 lens. 25 to 500 ASA with f/3.5 lenses.

Flash: X-sync contact. X-sync speed of 1/60th. Also synchronises with FP, M and MF bulbs.

Film Advance: 174° with single or partial stroke.

Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.

Rewind: Via crank and release button.

Size: 143 x 92 x 84 mm (W x H x D) with 50mm lens.

Weight: 900g with 50mm lens.

Battery: 1.3v Mercury PX625 (powers the meter only).

 

My Camera

Canon EX EE advertThe EX EE visually stands apart from other Canons, due to its smaller prism housing. Beneath the surface, it's one of Canon's ventures into an off-beat system (like the Pelix, and Canonflex series). However, models that are commercial failures have a habit of becoming collectables, and the unusual features of the EX EE captured my interest.

My camera was offered for sale on the basis that it worked 20 years ago, but the seller didn't know (care?) if it still worked. The condition looked pretty rough, so my bid was pitched accordingly. I paid £15 for the camera and a 50mm lens, in November 2018. Better examples available were priced around £60.

My camera was completely filthy, but fortunately most of the crud was surface dirt. In his 1997 book Collecting and Using Classic SLRs, Ivor Matanle says the EX EE usually works very well a quarter of a century and more after its introduction. Happily, some 20 years further on, this statement appears to be holding true, and my example proved to be in FWO and simply in need of a fresh battery. The camera also came with its original metal lens cap.

I quite like this camera. The constantly in focus viewfinder is refreshing, and reliance on the centre spot for focus employs the same technique as on almost any other SLR. Additionally, the auto exposure is delightfully simple.

 

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Canon EX EE

Canon EX EE

Canon EX EE

Canon EX EE