The Canon FT QL

About the Canon FT QL

If you collect cameras by the “random method” like I do, there are some “gaps” in the collection caused by missing brands that really should be in every collection. In my small collection, there are some really big names missing, mostly due to financial reasons. After all, this is more of a “budget” collection that is meant to be fun. And although there is still no Leica or Hasselblad in sight for me, I was now able to cross another big brand off my wish list: Canon. On a family party, my cousin gave me her grandfathers Canon FT QL as a present with the set lens, a wide angle and three zooms. (This reminds me that I made two rules before I started my collection: no electronics, as I couldn’t fix them, and no SLRs, as the extra lenses would take up too much space. Since the first camera in my collection is a fully automatic Pentax auto 110 super mini-SLR, you can see how well I can stick to rules.). I loaded it the same day with film, and although the shutter did not work properly on the first 10 photos, it somehow warmed up and the rest of the family photos turned out quite well.

About the Canon FT QL

Canon, named after the Bodhisattva Kwan‘on, started camera production with a Leica replica in 1933, the lenses were initially supplied by Nikon. In 1959, the Canonflex appeared, followed in 1964 by the first camera of the “FX” series, still with a light meter on the body. After the Pellix, which enabled TTL metering with a semi-transparent mirror in 1965 (although the light intensity suffered because only half of the light reached the film), the Canon FT QL appeared in 1966, with the “F” standing for “reFlex”, the “T” for TTL metering and finally “Q” and “L” for “Quick Loading”. Among the successors are the FTb, a further development for the “prosumer” sector, and the Canon F-1 for the professional, both released in 1971.

The Canon FT QL is a fully mechanical camera, so it can also be used without the built-in light meter. Weighing 1.04 kg with the 50 mm lens (compared to the OM-1n’s 677 grams, also with a 50 mm lens), it is anything but light, and it is not particularly small either. The lenses are attached with the FL bayonet, the later FD lenses also fit. The camera was built from 1966 to 1971, the blue lettering on the battery test lever, the round knob under the rewind crank and the complete lettering under the cocking lever indicate an early model.

With the camera, I got five lenses:

  • Canon FL ƒ 1:1.8 50 mm
  • Chinon ƒ 1:2.8 28 mm
  • Panagor PMC ƒ 1:4.5 80 ~ 200 mm
  • Sigma Zoom ƒ 1:3.5 ~ 4.5 28 ~ 80 mm
  • Tokina AT-X ƒ 2.8 80 ~ 200 mm 8700582

The most fascinating ones are the massive Tokina which is now my “fastest” telephoto and the Sigma, with the “family party friendly” zoom range from “the whole family” till “single portrait”.

Taking pictures with the Canon FT QL

As the “new” feature of the FT for a Canon SLR was the TTL metering, it would be a shame not to use this feature. Therefore, you first should get the camera a new battery. But like some other cameras from her period, the Canon FT QL needs one PX625 mercury battery, which is no longer available. For precise metering, you can use either a SR44 battery in an adapter with a voltage reducing diode, or a hearing aid battery with a brass adapter or just cardboard if you want to use the TTL metering. (See my review of the Olympus 35 RC, with the same battery problem). To check the battery voltage, set the film speed to 100 ISO and the exposure time to “X”, then pull the test lever down. The needle of the exposure meter should then swing upwards.
To load the film, pull up the rewind crank, flip the knob on the bottom of the camera and then turn it. Open the back flap fully, the quick-loading mechanism will flip up. Pull the film out of the cartridge until the tab touches the red strip (as shown on the instructions in the back flap). Close the flap, tension and you’re done. An interesting detail of the camera: parts of the instruction manual are written on the camera, so you can not lose them. Now wind the film, set the sensitivity on the time dial (25 – 1600 ISO) and you’re ready to go. The correct exposure is determined by stopping down the lens with the lever on the front under the “FT” lettering. Then select the correct aperture (depending on the lens) and exposure time (1 – 1/1000), the index of the light meter should be on the circle in the viewfinder. Focus, release the shutter, done. If the camera cannot be released: the camera has a lock: the rotating ring around the shutter release. “L” stands for locked, “A” for activated (I did not look that up, but to me, it sounds reasonable). For long exposures the camera has a “B” setting, for flash photography you need a PC sync connector, as the accessory mount on the top is just a cold shoe. The small lever below the stop down lever, activates the self-timer when you turn it counter clock wise, and also locks the stop down lever. The small lever on the other side locks up the mirror for lenses which would reach “behind” the mirror or to avoid shaking on long exposures. After you finished the roll, press the button on the bottom of the camera and rewind using the rewind crank.

The Canon FT QL is a great addition to my collection. Massive, but elegant and with thought trough details. As it came with some huge lenses, the heavy body and bigger size does not matter too much to me. While with the first roll, the shutter was not working properly yet. I hope, with some careful cleaning and warming up, I will be able to use the full potential of this gorgeous camera and the lenses I got with it.

ModellCanon FT QL
Year builtPresumably 1968, the cameras were produced between 1966 and 1971
Serial number311670
LensesCanon FL ƒ 1:1.8 50 mm 549270
Chinon ƒ 1:2.8 28 mm 161412
Panagor PMC ƒ 1:4.5 80 ~ 200 mm 801679
Sigma Zoom ƒ 1:3.5 ~ 4.5 28 ~ 80 mm ∑ 161247
Tokina AT-X ƒ 2.8 80 ~ 200 mm 8700582
ShutterCourtain Shutter
Film format35mm
Special featuresMirror Lockup, TTL metering
Manufactured byCanon
Date of purchase04/2022
PriceGift from the family
Place of purchase

Tips & Tricks shooting with the Canon FT QL

Like with all older cameras, and especially those with electronic light meters, I suggest learning the sunny f 16 rule, so you do not need batteries at all, and you have “a second opinion” on your light meter’s reading. If you would like to use the meter (like I do), get 675 hearing aid batteries. They cost nearly nothing, are easy made to fit in the battery compartment, are non-toxic, and they work. There are also comparably cheap adapters called MR-9.

Film purchase & processing

The camera can use any 35 mm film, the light meter measures between 25 and 1600 ISO, but as it’s fully manual you can use any film you like. (Manual) (Could have guessed it: Jim Grey has a Canon FT QL too) (Review, far better explanation how to use the camera and a video with lots of details) (how to guess the age of a Canon camera)


The Canon FT/FTb Flickr group
My pictures on Flickr

Deutsche Version


2 thoughts on “The Canon FT QL

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