Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Canon T-50: The Amazing Canon FD SLR Point & Shoot Camera

Self-Portrait in Tio's Tacos

Guest blog by Brian Moore

I’ve enjoyed 35mm point & shoot cameras since the day in the early 80’s when I picked up a Pentax 35AF. It fit fairly nicely in the pocket…not too bulky, it was solid, took decent pictures, had automatic exposure for film up to ASA 400, and came with a built-in flash. I used it constantly for a while, until one day it fell out of my coat pocket and landed with a sickening clatter on the concrete outside the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

That was that.

Cameras have come and gone since then, including the occasional point & shoot and even a replacement for my Pentax 35AF.

(But I dropped that one too one day, and that was that.)

I currently covet an Olympus XA, though I haven’t been able to score one on E-bay at my price point. (Call me cheap if you want, but some things go for crazy money on the bay.) In the meantime, I’ve discovered a point & shoot whose charms have so stricken me that it’s now my main squeeze: the Canon T50!

Canon T50

Released in March of 1983, the T50 was the first of Canon’s T-series, which achieved its apex with the highly regarded T90.

The T50 is rather a small SLR with a plastic body, auto exposure, auto film advance, a hot shoe and a self-timer, and it will accept film speeds ranging from ASA 25 to 1600.

Canon designed the T50 to be a beginner’s SLR. All the photographer need do is focus and shoot, and when finished with the roll rewind it in the conventional way. But if you’re a beginner who actually wants to learn photography through manipulation of the camera’s functions, the T50 isn’t for you, since it lacks manual over rides for exposure settings.

But if all you need is a second body for your Canon FD system, or a low-cost camera to sling over your shoulder and be at the ready to provide some excellent images, the T50 could be an excellent choice.

Two AA batteries are all the power you need for up to 75 rolls of 24 exposure film. (Or 50 rolls of 36 exposure.) And although by modern standards its firing rate of 1.4 frames per second may seem a snail-like pace, just remember it’s a cheap 1983-point & shoot.

Gull Over Ruby's 01-03-11

The real beauty of the T50, though: It takes FD lenses! Yes, all that beautiful Canon FD glass you used on your AE-1 will fit on the T50. Just connect the FD lens of your choice, set it to “A” on the aperture ring, and your T50 is ready to point & shoot.

Sardine St. Terminal Island

Huntingtin Beach High School Auditorium

Your images will be as sharp as any other manual focus Canon, and the auto exposure system is flexible enough to make low light shooting not only possible but simple and quite delightful. Put the camera on a tripod or steady it in some other fashion and you may be surprised by the results you get.

Despite its relatively small size, it’s still way too big to fit in a pocket, unless you’re name is Harpo Marx.

All images © Brian Moore

Links to Canon T50 pages on the web

The T-50 - Index Page

Canon T-50 on the Wikipedia

How to Use a Canon T50 35mm Camera

Brian Moore is a listener and regular contributor to the Film Photography Podcast
Brian Moore on Flickr

About The Film Photography Podcast
Launched in October of 2009, the Film Photography Podcast is a 90 minute, bi-weekly Internet radio program, exploring a wide range of topics relevant to the experienced and aspiring photographer using film as a medium. Hosts Michael Raso and Duane Polcou enthusiastically dissect and debate the pros-and-cons of film formats, do-it-yourself techniques, digital technologies, and vintage and contemporary cameras and accessories in a thorough, informative and casual manner. Regular features include Camera tests and reviews, “book of the month”, interviews, a listener-generated Q&A, and film-related giveaways.

Produced in the United States, the Film Photography Podcast is broadcast around the globe via iTunes and direct stream from


  1. what camera and film are used to take the picture of the T50 (second picture)??

  2. Very timely! On my weekly trip to the thrift store, what did I see, but a lonely T50 body without a lens in a straw basket full of outmoded digi-cams and a few overpriced Minoltas. $15 later, she was mine. She didn’t look like much, but cleaned up well. With two fresh AAs she sprang to life. I fitted a spare 35-70 zoom (not my best FD glass, but its flexible). I’ve always thought of the T50 as limited, but it does offer some control: 1/60 sec and aperture control give a limited sunny 16 opportunities, can change the ASA easily for exposure compensation. Not much, but its auto will probably cover 70% of my shooting conditions, workarounds for an extra 10%. I’ve learned that an 80% solution will get you far in life!

  3. The image of the T-50 was shot by Brian Moore with Polaroid 230 equipped with close up lens #583. Fuji FP-3000B film.

  4. I've been scrounging around e-bay as if the T-50 is a MUST HAVE item...lured in by it's limited functions and, yes, fun work-arounds!
    - Michael Raso

  5. I'm basically a Nikonophile with five Nikon film SLRs, but having started out on the AE-1 (not Program) I'm stil a fan of the FD glass. FD lenses are solid performers that can still be had fairly inexpensively, but it's only a matter of time before the Mico 4/3 crowd starts snapping them up.

    I was gifted a Canon EF (~1972) with 50mm f/1.4 S.S.C FD lens and it's one of my favorites. Got a T70 as a backup, as you put it so well, point-and-shoot for my nice FD glass.

  6. Typo above. Of course it's "Micro 4/3." Also wanted to know if the T50 has a handy spot metering option like the T70. That's the main reason I got my T70.

  7. glad someone is showing the T50 some love, it's fun camera, especially when shooting with 1600 film, and the fd 1.8, pretty much shoot it anywhere anytime