Canon T50

from Shutter, by Lewis Collard

The Canon T50

This is the Canon T50, an automatic-exposure manual-focus SLR camera made from 1983 to 1989. I don't like it much and I might make fun of it a lot, but if you have one there's no excuse for not shooting it:

Weird cloud stuff
You won't get these colours from digital! :D Canon T50 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 shooting Fuji's Velvia 50.


It is mostly plastic. It's heavy enough that it might have a metal chassis in there somewhere, but I don't know.

It's also one of the most ugly cameras I've ever seen. It was caught between the 1970s and late-80s; with neither the angular awesomeness of a 70s camera like the Canon A-1, nor the sculpted curviness of a T90 (or an EOS camera).

The Ouse and trees yet again
Ouse and Trees, yet again. I like the Ouse, and I also like trees. Canon T50 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 shooting Velvia 50.


Fully automatic only. Just turn the main dial to "Program" and go shoot. Well, that first bit is actually a lie: you can shoot fully-manually by taking the aperture ring on the lens off "A". That's sort of manual, if the only shutter speed you like is 1/60.

Just like some people look way too hard for movie mistakes, the great things about Google Books is that nerds like me can search for fictional references to our cameras and make up for our terminal insecurity by pointing out errors. From Page 141 of Paul Cox's Surreal-ism:

Debbie, after sorting herself out, watches, as John gets his camera out of his rucksack. And with his camera being a good one, the Canon T50, John, with Debbie looking on, tries to look as professional as possible; as he checks the aperture on his lens.

Debbie whispered, "uh, d00d, it's an automatic camera, and if you set the aperture manually you'll be stuck at 1/60 and you'll have no meter. Canon sux anyway, pros use Nikon.

"lol, n00b."

Actually I just made that last bit up, but the fact I do stuff like that explains why I get all the chicks.

ANYWAY. The meter, though centre-weighted, is dead accurate. It works just fine with Fuji Velvia 50 (a slide film). There's no auto-exposure lock. You don't get exposure compensation, either, other than by turning the ISO dial and guessing it.

To shoot, turn the awkward main dial to "PROGRAM" and go have fun.

Crossing barrier. Canon T50 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 shooting Velvia 50. Velvia reds: oh baby.


Vertical-travel, metal. Flash sync is at 1/60, the same as the cloth-shuttered A-1. Top speed is 1/1000 (fast enough), and it'll time exposures out to 2 seconds (longer than most people ever use).

On reflection, V
On reflection, V. Canon T50 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 shooting Velvia 50.


Two AA batteries power the meter and the 1.7fps motor drive (film loading and rewind is still fully manual). The manual warns you very sternly to not use Ni-Cd batteries, and I wouldn't use Ni-Mh with it either. Do your part to destroy the environment and use regular disposable carbon-zinc or alkaline batteries.

Talking of the motor drive, it sounds as ugly as the camera looks. Perhaps I have an over-active imagination, but it reminds me of someone who got caught sleeping at his desk at work, and startles and is like "I'M WORKING SERIOUSLY I WASN'T SLEEPING".

It doesn't like to munch batteries quite as much as my T90 does, which is nice. Spin the main dial around to "B.C.", for "Battery Check", and then it'll beep rapidly at you. Hooray.

Metal fencing
Metal fencing. Canon T50 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 (I think) shooting Velvia 50.

Use with flash

I wouldn't, given the mediocre sync speed. Back in the day, Canon liked inventing a new flash system for each new camera they introduced. For the T50, Canon made the somewhat-automated Speedlight 244T for those who like nuking things with direct flash indoors. It only works with ASA 100 or 400 film.

Never mind.


Big, bright and beautiful. There's no distractions, not even an aperture and shutter speed readout. There's a little P that stays lit green when the camera is happy, blinks slowly when the shutter speed is too low (1/30 and below), and blinks like crazy if you're outside of its metering range. A red blinking "M" will chastise you for taking your aperture ring away from the "A" position. If you're silly enough to use it with the Speedlight 244T, you'll also get a little lightning bolt to let you know that the flash has charged.

The Ouse just before sunset
The Ouse, just before sunset. Canon T50 and Canon FD 28mm f/2.8 shooting Velvia 50.

Lens compatibility

The T50 will take all Canon FD lenses (modern EOS/EF lenses are completely incompatible in both directions). As an outfit, it'd typically be sold with a 50mm f/1.8.

There's no stop-down metering switch like there is on the A-1 and T90, so you won't be able to use FL and other non-FD lenses via an adapter.

Metal fencing, II
Metal fencing, II. Canon T50 and Canon FD 50mm f/1.8 shooting Velvia 50.

Buying one

I probably wouldn't if I weren't offered the chance to give a camera a working home (and if I didn't have a sense of humour that drives me to get good photos from crappy cameras), but I did and here we are. They sell on eBay from around the £20 mark and upwards. I paid £80 for mine, including a decent bag, a couple of Canon zoom lenses, Speedlight 244T and a couple of other goodies. I gave it away to someone more photogenic than me.

Grape hyacinths
Blue things, the name of which escaped me when I first added it to the gallery (they're actually grape hyacinths). Canon T50 and Canon 28mm f/2.8 shooting a free film. Fuji's lab got the scanning wrong for most of this roll, IMO; in this case, "wrong" looked right for the shot.