Tag Archives: Canon

Posts about Canon photographic equipment

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.

Canon … Canonet QL17 G-III … shutter, well almost.

Hmm, sticky shutter … seems to be a common theme with older cameras, at least the ones the I get a hold of.

Tools: spanner wrench

DSC00512 Unlike the Olympus that I worked on previously, the front lens plate is secured by an outter locking ring that is unscrewed.

The inner ring can be removed if you need to get in between the front lens group … this will not get you closer to the shutter blades.

DSC00511Under neath is a plate that changes the amount of light hitting the exposure meter.


Ok here is where you will need the special tool … welllll I don’t got one, so I am stuck with only going this far.

I tried using a rubber friction tool, but this front group was really secured … probably never taken off before.

Not much access to anything here.

So, how did I free the shutter? As is common with many shutters, the rear lens cell can be unscrewed. This allowed me to access the blades, and get some fluid on it to loosen it up.

G is for ggggrrrrreat !!!

Ok, so as you know I am in the habit of introducing the camera’s that I get to take apart … probably just so I can add a new post to keep this blog alive.

The Canon Canonet QL17 G-III. QL = quick load, 17 = f/1.7, the G = “grade up” … heah, that is what Canon states on their Museum site … and Canonet, well that’s just something someone in marketing thought up. So does this mean this is the third grade up version, hmmm (Orig. Canonet, New Canonet, and Canonet G-III … though there has been a number of other Canonets made)?

CanonQl17GIII_DxOAnywho, the G-III was in production for 10 years starting in 1972. It appears to be a very popular model for modern photographers looking for a point and shoot film camera. Some make claims that it is the poor man’s Leica? I don’t really believe that, it don’t look like no Leica that I know of … hmm, maybe a CL … ah, that’s stretching it.

The camera has a mechanical shutter, with auto abilities if you want to slap a battery in it. The highly praised 40mm lens, 6 elements in 4 groups, is probably where the comparisions to Leica come from … many on the web say so.

Warning … I may not be immediately posting any of the new cameras any time soon, as they all seem to putting up a lot of resistance to change.

QL17 … the final frontier

After I figured out the shutter release and cleaned up the gears, I still had a problem with the aperture … so part III.


  • Screw driver
  • Soldering iron
  • Spanner wrench
  • Dental spatula
  • Ronsonol
  • Lots of Q-tips

The first thing to do is to remove the two leatherette pieces from the front of the camera. Have patience and you will be rewarded with singular pieces. Start from the outer edges and work your way in towards the lens.

Remove top cover. Then remove four screws holding the lens assembly, and pull it off.

Flip it over.

Remove the two screws that secure the baffle.

Pull off light baffle.

Unsolder the wires. Note that the longer one is on the left.

Unscrew rear lens group first. Then you can unscrew the retaining ring that is hidden underneath. This holds the lens/shutter assembly to this plate.

Pull off lens

There are three rings here.

Dark one sets the shutter.

Spacer in between

Silver bottom one trips the shutter release (in this image it was moved off the pin).

Remove them.

OK, now down to the nitty gritty (whatever that means).

The aperture blades are gummed up. The red arrow points to the arm that is moved to open the aperture. The green arrow points to a (pathetic) spring arm that pulls it into an open position.

I washed out this area with Ronsonol … then exercised the aperture … then did it again. Use Q-tips to clean off the blades. Continue the cycle.

Let it dry

Continue the clean, wipe cycle until it flows like butter, or at least until the little spring can pull its weight.

The best way of cleaning the blades is to take the whole thing apart and individually clean everything … I am not that ambitious.

… I would like to thank a couple of Japanese bloggers that posted their experience with taking this camera apart, the photo’s helped (but the translation failed).