James's Camera Collection: Canon T50

Canon T50 Japan Other Canon Cameras 35mm cameras
Canon T50 camera
Camera type: Single Lens Reflex (SLR)
Lens Mount: FD bayonet/breech
Film type: 35mm
Approx. dates of manufacture: 1983-1989
Battery: 2 AAs
Approx. original price: $159.95
Approx. street value: Low

Purchased for $10 at a thrift shop because somebody left the batteries in the chamber. They leaked and jammed everything up solid. Usually it's fairly easy to pop batteries out even if they're encased in acid. I had to use a wine-bottle corkscrew to pull these out. So I have to clean it up, and someone else had broken the battery door off (probably trying to open it after the leak), so I'll to sink another $10 at least to get it going.

But the camera had a decent Kiron zoom lens on it, which is worth $10 at least. So I figure I'm okay no matter how I slice it.

click for larger adThe T50 is the first of Canon's T series; and in one of their rare displays of rational naming schemes, the higher the number, the better the camera. The T50 was the low-end of the line, the T70 was the middle and the T90 was the best, with the T60 and T80 slipping in-between accordingly.

For the time, the T50 was an interesting combination; it was very basic because it only runs in program mode (though you get a very limited manual mode if you insist). But it's more compact and lighter than its A-series predecessors, it runs on AA batteries instead of something oddball, and it has a built-in motor-drive (but you still have to rewind by hand). It's all black and it was a pointer to the way forward.

The one really nice thing about it is that it takes the FD lens mount, which means you can fit all kinds of glass on it, from cheap weird-brand junk through Canon's own L-series.

Of course, it has the common Canon failing of an under-engineered battery door (I see a lot of these for sale with broken doors), and you can get a much-better T70 for near the same price on the used market.

For more information: Canon Camera Museum

Modern Photography magazine camera test: August 1983

Camera manual: Orphan Cameras.com

©opyright by James Ollinger. All Rights Reserved.