Tag Archives: Canon F-1n

Back to that F-1n needle … solution.

Soooooo, I got everything working on that F-1n except for that sticky needle. I really did not want to take the mirror box out to get at the mechanism as I tried it on my test subject and it is not an easy thing to remove and especially replace.

I figured if I washed out the area it will eventually run free … but every time the Naptha dried out the needle would stick. I figured that it needed some oil to keep the metal parts moving … but that means opening it up !!!

DSC00630Then I remembered a tip that someone told me … put a drop or two of Nyoil in a bath of Naptha. Well I did not have any Nyoil, but I did have some Moebius 8040 watch oil, so I made a bath … then dribbled some into the opening for the diaphragm sensing lever (or the servo port if it isn’t covered).

Some exercise of the lever and stop down switch … and then waited for the solution to dry.

Next day … the lever does not stick !! Thanks Dimitri.


F-1 … we can rebuild it.

I bought a Canon F-1n some time ago thinking I could repair its shutter problem … I got it cheap so I did not press the seller much on details … well, it was fairly obvious what the shutter problem was; Canon F-1n, almost original. So, I hunted for a parts camera with an intact shutter.

Sooo, now I have two partially working camera’s … now to make one !!!

As the F-1 system is very modular in nature it was easy to swap out the parts. There were issues that I encountered, but I expected that since both cameras were somewhat non-working. The “working” camera had problems with the aperture indicator, so I had to start taking things apart.


Mechanical parts Canon F-1.image (40k Jpeg)

I will have to warn everyone that this is not the sort of camera you really want to jump into.

Canon media documents state that there are over 10,000 parts, and I think they are right.

I did find some videos on youtube – (“fix old cameras”), but not a lot of websites of anyone specifically working on an F-1 … I guess not many wanted to tackle this one.

OK, so after I put the parts on the working camera I slapped on a lens to check the light meter … hmm, the needle is moving but the aperture circle is stuck at the top of the window? After some hunting I found an old article from the Classic Camera Repair Forum about this issue. The diaphram sensing lever was not freely moving up and down … it keeps getting stuck at its lowest position. I can lightly push it up and it then freely moves. As Brcamera states in his post, the ramp has some sort of abrasion/wear/gunk that makes it stick.


Hmm, I wonder if it has to do with crap getting into the inside of the camera? I say this because the door is broken off on my camera. What door ? The F-1 happens to have port on left side of the camera mount ring that is used to couple with the Servo EE Finder. This is covered by a plastic door. My camera has no door, so stuff can get in over time. If yours is like this also, I highly suggest taking the door parts off and then putting in something to cover over the port (I suspect that you are probably not going to use a servo EE finder). I used some leatherette material and screwed the remaining door cover over it.

Note, in the image  I have removed the lens mounting ring, as I did notice that if the mirrorbox is not tightly screwed onto the body then it will affect the diaphram sensing levers movement.

I squirted some Ronsonol in the area to see if that loosened things up … and exersized the lever. It was not sticking … so I let it dry out. It continued to stick, so I did it again.

I will just continue to work on that method … I tried getting the mirrorbox out, but that proved to be too much … until it doesn’t stick, but in the meantime if you are looking through your viewfinder and see a circle in the sky you can just push the stop down lever to force it down.

Ok, so on to the next thing … the battery check is not working.

With the F-1 you set the ASA to 100 and shutter speed to 1/2000s, then turn the light meter switch to C. Looking through the viewfinder you can see if the need sits at the mark. Mine does not move … but it is getting power as the light meter needle is moving.

This requires getting into the top left side of the camera to check the electronic contacts, and give it a cleaning.

First you need to remove front cover plate that surrounds the lens mount, as it hides screws holding the top cover plates on … four screws

Remove finder and ground screen.

Top Left (backfacing) side


Remove flash PC socket … unscrew using clamp wrench

Remove meter on/off switch … unscrew center pin face screw … I used my pointy tweezers … then pull off switch knob. Note that there is a brass washer down in there also.

Remove rewind crank … open the back and hold onto the rewind spool while unscrew the rewind crank counterclock wise.


Remove three screws, pull off accessory shoe base. This is actually muliple pieces but can be removed whole.

Top plate is held by two screws one in back and one in front.


DSC00629 1

For anyone thinking of adjusting recalibrating the light meter … don’t try it. I can’t figure out how it is done without getting deeper into the camera. There is reference to some adjustment in the Service Manual which I note at the end of this post.

At the bottom of the image you will see some metal contact closures. The top and middle contact eachother when the battery check is switched. I found that the metal needed cleaning to make make them connect.

If your light meter does not turn on it could be that the bottom two metal contacts are dirtly so you can give those two a cleaning.

Now lets see what the right side looks like.


I really did not have much reason to look at this side but I thought … heck, why not.

Maybe you want to clean the counter dial or something … or just wanta take a look.

DSC00636Remove shutter speed dial … note the speed it is set to.

Pop off centre cap, it is glued on (yes, I am as surprised as you are). Then remove screw, pull off speed dial. There is a plastic ring glued onto the cover (don’t have to remove it).

DSC00637Remove the advance lever … remove centre screw, pull off lever, pull out the multiple parts … remember their order and position.

DSC00634Remove shutter button lock … warning there is a ball bearing …

Loosen three screws around the outside. WARNING … slowly carefully pull off and look for spring loaded bearing. Then pull off lock ring … there are two indents on the ring where the bearing will sit that keeps the dial in A or L setting.

DSC00629Top cover … three screws, back side and the front

note position of spiral plate



I was actually surprised to read up on the link between the shutter speed dial and the light meter mechanism … there are wires that span the back that link the two together. Thats what the service manual references for adjustment … but as I mentioned, that is a bit too much for me right now.


Below image from the Service Manual … it notes that fine adjustement to the metering needle position can be done by turning screw A.


FFFF… well just F-1 … nnnnn

My first SLR camera was a Canon T-70 … ah, I thought it was the greatest camera … it was the greatest camera as it was my first. That started my thing for Canon cameras, not that I had many of them, so I was not one of those people that became obsesest and collect every single one of them. My second camera was a Canon T-90, cause it was really electronically cool … but, I became more appreciative of the simple things, shutter, aperture, and the film. My next, and final, film camera was the oh so awesome New F-1 (or is it the F-1N … not to be confused with the F-1n ??)

… but this ain’t a story about that one, this is the story about the one that came before, the one that started it … the Canon F-1, the original and the revised F-1n (it had a plastic tip on the film advance lever and some other mods).


The Canon F-1 is a legendary camera for this company. It was a reaction to the Nikon F2 camera … though it was released in 1971 about 6 months before the F2 … and it was (in my mind) their equals. Canon’s 5 year reaction was full on (the Canonflex vs F didn’t work out so well) … not only did they bring in a new modular camera, it was built to take a beating in extreme environments, they also developed a crap load of accessories and the new line of FD lenses to support the automatic aperture system allows the lens to remain wide open all the time, until the camera takes the shot.

They updated the F-1 five years later (F-1n, note the camera keeps its F-1 label) with about 13 improvements, like a brighter mirror … including changes to the advance lever to make it quicker.

To identify an F-1n vs the F-1, look at the film advance lever … you can see the updated plastic tip on the n model (on the right).

f-1_lever f-1n_lever

… anyway, as a New F-1 (or F-1N) user, I can see that this was an awesome camera system. It feels like a block of steel, feels like a professional camera that was the basis of the even more awesome camera. Oh, and this camera was also the base for the unique Canon EF.