other Canon camera in my collection:
- Canon Canonet rangefinder
Canon TX [1975 - 1979]
Canon made their first 35mm SLR in 1959, and it used
R mount lenses.
In 1964 Canon adopted a new
FL lens mount, and between 1964 and 1969 they introduced a second family of cameras (i.e. the FX, FP, FT, TL and Pellix). All shared a common design aesthetic, which was carried forward into the following generation of cameras.
The next lens mount system came in 1971 - the
FD mount - and a third family of cameras starting with the FTb, followed by the TLb, and TX (plus the F-1 and EF - which I've side-lined because they were somewhat different).
The F-1 was designed to a professional specification, and a camera that changed the manufacturer's standing and fortune. The consumer grade FTb piggy-backed the F-1's impact, and was essentially an up-graded 1966 FT (the clue is in the name). The nature of the enhancement was primarily a switch from the stop-down metering of FL lenses to open aperture metering with FD lenses.
Both FL and FD lenses use a common breech-lock system. In a bayonet mount the lens body is mated to the camera and the whole lens housing rotated to lock the two together. By contrast, the breech-lock lens is mated to the camera body in the correct alignment, and locked by movement of a rotating mounting ring only. The original generation of FD lenses, made until 1979, featured a silver coloured locking ring at the base. The later New FD lenses, made from 1973 until 1989, have a black mount which includes a lens release button.
The TX was a very stripped-down version of the FTb (which in turn was an upgraded 1966 FT), made for export (i.e. not sold in Japan), and presumably intended to snare first-timers into Canon ownership.
- The TX has a centre-weighted averaging light meter, rather than the 12% partial metering of the FTb. The meter uses a CdS cell, and provides full-aperture TTL match-needle metering.
- There is no metering switch, or battery check, and the meter appears to be constantly active.
- The camera's stop-down lever resembles the self-timer found on other FD cameras, but cannot be locked in the stopped-down position. There is no self-timer function.
- The horizontal-travel cloth focal-plane shutter has a lower top speed of 1/500th.
- There is a hot shoe and single auto-switching FP and X flash sync PC terminal.
- There is no
Quick Loadsystem, where the film is placed across the take-up spool and the back closed. When the advance lever is operated the film automatically winds around the spool.
- There is no mirror lock-up (click here for more on the original purpose of a mirror lock-up).
- The shutter release is not lockable.
The TX was originally sold with a 50mm f/1.8 S.C. lens. Canon FD lenses are engraved
S.C. in white or
S.S.C. in red. S.C. stands for Spectra Coating, and S.S.C. for Super Spectra Coating. The basic S.C. coating was limited to the least expensive lenses. According to a dealer advert in a 1976 edition of Practical Photography, the price of the TX with a 50mm S.C. lens was £107.69. On price point, the TX was a direct competitor for a Pentax SP1000 with a similar lens. In 1975, the average weekly UK wage was £73.57, so the TX was still an expensive camera (and would have been way beyond my means).
Lens mount: Canon FD breech-lock. Can also use FL lenses.
Focus: 0.85x magnification (with 50mm lens), 94% coverage. Fresnel matte screen with micro-prism centre.
Shutter: Horizontal-travel focal-plane cloth curtains. Speeds 1 to 1/500th, +B.
Meter: Single CdS cell, open aperture, TTL, center-weighted averaging metering.
Exposure: Manual viewfinder match-needle type. Warning flag for when exposure is outside the meter coupling range. This is not a low light warning ... as it is sometimes described. Match-needle must be aligned to an indexing mark when used with FL lenses.
Film Speed: 25 to 1600 ASA.
Flash: Auto-selected FP and X-sync port plus contacts on accessory shoe. X-sync speed of 1/60th.
Film Advance: 174° with 21° stand-off, single or partial stroke.
Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and release button.
Size: 144 x 93 x 43 mm (W x H x D).
Battery: 1.35v Mercury PX625.
I never really
got Canon back in the 1970s. It's hard to explain, but there just seemed to be a lack of SLR heritage, yet, after the F-1's introduction, Canons were suddenly an exalted make, and (sorry Canon fans ... this next statement might offend you) they appeared to attract pretentious users with more dosh than knowledge (like the emergence of
an expensive camera makes you a good photographer syndrome). Strangely, my photography enthusiast wife had also formed this opinion some 20-years before we met.
More than that, I developed a bit of a dislike of Canon, because they pioneered models like the AE-1, which started to replace the photographer's brain with a micro-processor (undesirable to us old school types), and then dominated 35mm auto-focus, squashing the opposition and eliminating the joy of design diversity. However, I thought I'd give a 70s Canon a chance.
I've been searching for a Canon FTb/FTbn, but they sell for way more than I've been willing to pay, so I thought I'd go for the TX. I'm not too worried about it not having all the gismos - like a mirror lock-up and self-timer (which I am expecting to become known as a
selfie-timer amongst millennials). My Canon TX was purchased in April 2017 for £9.99, plus the small but seemingly inescapable fantasy-postage-charge-excess, making the true cost of the camera £11.08.
My TX is in full working order - save for one undisclosed problem (see image and panel right, or click here). This illustrates my concern about sellers seeking inflated postage cost: if they are untruthful about postage costs, they're also likely to be untrustworthy when describing a camera's condition. That's why I don't normally bid on items with exaggerated postal changes. Nevertheless, I got a good camera (one of the cleanest cameras I have ever bought) for little money, and I think I can fix it. Predictably, the light seals and mirror damper need replacing.
It's a nice enough camera; it feels solid and good quality, but it lacks sparkle. My only criticism is Canon's choice of metering pattern. There's nothing wrong with centre-weighted average metering, but it isn't very Canon, and it therefore fails to deliver one of the key things that made Canon cameras different to Pentax. However, the breech lock lens mount, the other critical difference, is nice. The stop-down lever is well placed, and intuitive to use. I'm not personally a fan of match-needle metering. The camera is also a tiny bit bigger than a Spotmatic. Forty years on, I have re-examined my prejudice, and found I still prefer the Pentax Spotmatic.