Camera Test: The Canon T70

I picked up this Canon T70 as part of a recent Craigslist lot.  Since a defective Canon T50 was actually  the first camera I bought when I decided to get back into shooting film, I was really looking forward to using this camera.  I took it to the beach, along with three other cameras I’d never shot before.

Normally, taking new-to-you vintage equipment on a trip is a bad idea.  This trip was probably an example of that, because I definitely made some bone-headed errors due largely to not knowing the equipment I was using.   I plan on covering each of the four cameras in the next few blog posts, so I’ll speak specifically about this camera.

The biggest mistake I made was not noticing it had slipped out of (or I had taken it out of) “A” mode on one of the lenses during a sailing trip.  The end result was the lens was on f22, and even though it was Fuji Natura 1600 film, I should have been shooting around f8, so the shots were highly underexposed and largely unsalvageable, as you can see below.


I sort of enjoyed shooting this camera, but I just never felt like I bonded with it.  With the auto film advance, it felt a little like I was shooting one of my Maxxum’s, but it didn’t do anything else – like warn me when the lens was set wrong.  Since it auto-advances after a picture, I don’t automatically think about some of the other settings.  That’s not the camera’s fault, but it just doesn’t suit they way I think.   Here’s some photos on the Natura 1600 that turned out well.


It does a decent job of taking pictures, but in my opinion they have a decidedly 1970’s or 1980’s feel to them.  Which makes sense, since it’s a 1980’s SLR with mostly 1970’s lenses.The film advancing and rewinding is noisy, the shutter sound is just a little to much like a “clack” for me – it doesn’t sound as precise as many other cameras both older and newer than the T70.

The biggest Issue I have is there’s not Aperture Priority mode.  That’s really how I shoot, and largely why I probably overlooked the setting on the lens – I had tried to shoot a sunstar with the new lens, then the next several shots we’re later that day on the boat.  It has program, Tele, and Wide mode, and then essentially a Shutter Priority mode.   But no Aperture Priority.  Cap it of with a bunch of buttons instead of wheels to change settings, and it’s just not a camera for me.

I shot a roll of Portra 400 through the T70 too, so some of those are at the end of post – although with some spots from drying – still working on my developing processes.  After shooting most of the cameras in my collection and developing rolls from a majority of them, I’m down to seven cameras that I’m keeping; nine if we count two that my wife is using for display.  That number includes the Panasonic Digital camera, and reflects the purchase and evaluation of three additional cameras.  One – a Minota Maxxum 7, has rapidly become my favorite (more on it in a future post), one didn’t make the cut (a defective Canonet QL17), and the other is one of the two my wife has on display (a Kodak Tourist).

The QL17 with a jammed shutter

This exercise of trying to get rid of some of (most!) my cameras has really made me critically think about what I enjoy most about photography.  I think deep down I’m not really a camera guy.  I want something that works and that I connect to when I’m shooting, so that the camera becomes part of the creative process instead of interfering.   I enjoy the memories and the experience of seeing the images after the creation.  I’m a picture guy, but not a camera/equipment junkie.  I can thank my wife for inspiring me once again and rekindling my love of photography.

Of those seven cameras that made the cut, I’m thinking hard about whether I’ll really use five of them. I could see me theoretically getting down to 4 cameras:  two 35mm, a medium format, and a digital.  I think I enjoy trying different film stocks, and if I pare down to a few select cameras, I really need to evaluate that as well.  Will I continue to enjoy trying new stock as much, or will I start wanting to get more consistency out of my film stock and further refine my skills?

Of the 115 or so rolls of film I have in the cooler, there’s at least 29 different stocks.  Some are just different speeds, Like Portra 160, 400, and 800, or Fuji Superia 200, 400, and 800, but they’re still different.  And I  don’t have any unexposed rolls of two films I enjoy shooting: Eastman Double XX and Kodak Ektar.  But at less than $3 a roll (probably closer to $2), it’s worth experimenting and learning what I truly enjoy.

Coming soon I have images from several rolls of film to share, plus thoughts on at least 6 other cameras, assuming they all work:  The Maxxum 7, Bronica SQ-Ai, Hasselblad 500C, Zeiss Ikon Contina, Canon FTb, and the Hannimex Amphibian.  In the meantime, go shoot some film and create some memories.




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