As stated in my preview post:

What can I say? I like weird cameras.

And while I really liked this camera on sight at the time of that post I had not taken a picture with it. Well as documented in two recent posts I am happy to report that this camera works just fine. Which is good because it was new old stock and these may have very well been the first photos ever taken with the camera.

Canon T80
Had the plastic pressure plate cover in place.

This camera and a test run of an old beauty of a mechanically flawed camera I just wrote about

Canon IVSB Rangefinder

…had me questioning my film camera priorities. Sure, the Canon IVSB was a real looker and was of a rangefinder design which makes many swoon. It also had all the rangefinder-y experience one could stand. But there was a problem. It had holes in the cloth shutter. No bueno. Sans repair this is a shelf trophy. But even if it did work there was another issue. As much as I say that I treasure all manual cameras I find myself using them less and less as time goes by. And there is this:

As far as I can tell film does not give a flip about what camera you put it in and what lens you put it behind.

Rangefinder or SLR? AF or MF? Autowind or manual wind? Metal or plastic build? Film does not care. Another half frame film camera I recently reviewed for 35mmc drove this point home as well.

Kodak Ektar H35 35mmc guest post will be up 08/05.
Kodak Ektar H35
Kodak Ektar H35

Seriously. What the heck? A $50 new half frame film camera with disposable camera build quality and absolutely not one single user input above choosing the film and whether you turn on the flash cranked out a bunch of respectable images while the gorgeous but hobbled IVSB produced goose eggs.

Focus instead has turned more to what a camera can do instead of how it looks.

As a result, while appreciating their build and design, I am starting to care less and less about how a camera looks. Also caring less about how popular a camera is. While I do not talk about it often that is why I always end up letting go of insta-twit-face-flick darlings. As a result all of the previously used and reviewed social media darlings below are gone.

Contax T2
Contax T2
Leica M3
Leica M3
Mamiya
Mamiya RZ67
Fujica GW690 #fujica #gw690
Fujifilm GW690
Fuji GW690III
Fuji GW690 III

Will stop myself here, but you get the point. I will in no way disparage any of these cameras. They were great. But other cameras suited me better in all cases. And fortunately for me each of these other cameras cost significantly less.

What on Earth has all of this got to do with the Canon T80?

Quite a bit actually. As mentioned in the previous post I am not bothered by this camera’s looks in the least. I am in the minority on this, but I actually like the way these 80s cameras look. But personal taste aside this camera succeeded at its most important task. Taking images I really like with little fuss or muss.

As mentioned before I was already on board for buying this camera. Why? Easy.

  • Had previously fallen for its predecessor, the Canon T70. An odd choice that I actually liked. But it lost out to other MF SLRs in my great gear clear a while ago. As much as I liked it I had another MF SLR I liked more.
  • It is a maligned camera. Many reviews disparage this camera for technical and aesthetic shortcomings. They may be right, but right up there with weird cameras, I have a weakness for supposedly awful cameras also.
  • It is a one and done and only on sale for one year from 1985 to 1986. Canon’s early attempt at AF with their FD mount before transitioning to the EF AF mount. This AC mount had exactly three variants. Two zooms and a 50mm f/1.8 prime.
  • This camera came with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. And for that extra bit of weirdness, it comes with a hump. Weird. And I like it.
Canon T80
  • Being released in 1985 it has cheesy 80s styling… that I really like actually. Not conventionally good looking but I do find it attractive nonetheless. A personal taste thing.
  • Lastly and most importantly for me, it is new old stock. I LOVE old new stock. Prior examples are awful cameras that I adore (Exhibit A and Exhibit B). If I follow the story in this case it was purchased by my camera shop of choice from another camera shop and it went unsold. Even has the original pressure plate plastic cover.

All original packaging, manuals, and accessories, even including an unopened neck strap.

Canon T80
Canon T80
Canon T80
Canon T80
Canon T80

Said last time:

I am calling it. This one is a keeper. There are downsides as described.

I mentioned that there were likely workarounds for the documented downsides of this camera. Will add notes in bold italics to my previous theorizing documenting my real world experiences after getting two rolls through the camera.

  • Subpar AF.
    • For starters of course it does.
      • I have very low expectations for a company’s first attempts at AF.
      • I will take it over no AF.
      • Honestly do not what they were on about. While I would not classify it as “good” admittedly I did not have many issues at all. The few shots where focus was off can be directly tied to user error. Specifically user impatience and lack of care regarding the placement of the focus patch. The rest of the time it did fine.
      • That being said low light AF is trash. But that is true of many cameras regardless of format.
    • Struggles with horizontal lines.
      • It loves vertical lines however. Outlined in the manual (I actually read it.) I have worked around it on this first roll by either:
        • Turning the camera 90 degrees to focus and then back to capture the image.
        • Switching the camera to manual focus.
        • Yep. Turning the camera does the trick for me.
Canon T80
  • Subpar aesthetics.
    • A matter of personal taste. I like it. I liked the T70’s styling and I think the T80 pulls off the plastic fantastic 1980s look even better.
    • Sure it is plastic, but I would not call any part, switch, or button that feels the least bit fragile,
    • A goofy plastic camera looks really good after a gorgeous rangefinder recently fell on its face.
Canon T80
  • Lack of control.
    • Very true.
      • There is not an aperture or shutter speed dial to be found anywhere.
      • Turns out I do not care when the camera nails it.
    • But you get modes that actually work for me. I tend to shoot in aperture priority mode most often and there are modes to approximate this. Occasionally I like to shoot at faster shutter speeds and there is a mode for that. On top of that there are some other interesting modes as well.
      • Program.
        • SLR as point and shoot.
        • Yep.
      • Deep.
        • Aperture closed down a bit for multiple people or landscape shots.
        • Works as billed.
      • Shallow.
        • The closest mode to where I usually shoot. Aperture priority wide open. This mode leans towards a shallower depth of field.
        • There is one advantage. Where I occasionally forget to close the aperture down in brighter conditions this would be accounted for here.
        • Works as billed. You know that thing where you shoot in aperture priority mode to squeeze out the greatest subject isolation possible and have to remember to close down the aperture when the brightness of a scene blows past what the top shutter speed can handle? You do? Good. That is what this camera does for you automatically in this mode.
        • Used most often it was the one chosen for almost all of the Duke Garden pics below.
      • Stop Action
        • Shutter priority where the camera attempts to freeze a scene.
        • Works as billed. I often do this thing where I will set a shutter speed to something high on a film camera, set the focus to infinity, and let the camera work out the aperture. This is the mode for that manner of foolishness.
      • Flowing.
        • Meant for panning.
        • It is the one mode that allows you to adjust the shutter speed.
        • Um. I forgot to try this mode. But at this point, I am willing to trust Canon’s word that it works.

One feature I would not use admittedly.

  • Servo or AF-C.
    • Let us not ask too much of this camera.
    • Did not even bother messing with this.

Again, I had said in the prior post:

And guess what? I have not even finished the first roll with this camera. For all I know this camera could be a bust like my first T70.

But absent that I expect I will get on just fine with this camera…

And if you have not caught on by now I got on just fine with this camera.

Blatantly missed focus on two shots.

Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400

Both user error. Tried to focus and recompose and did not take much care in the process. Impatience on my part. There were a couple of other shots where focus missed but I will not share them. Hubris played a major roll and I asked more of this camera than what most any AF film camera could do and what many digital cameras could handle… at night… on the move. So I will own those fully.

Here is a sample of a shot taken in Stop Action mode.

Canon T80 - Superia 400

This mode does allow you to set the shutter speed. I set focus to infinity and took little care at all to hold the camera still and I could not ask for better.

As for exposure, this thing rarely ever missed. Mentioned this above but I have a hard time getting upset with a lack of controls when the camera nails it on the regular. Your mileage may vary.

Have not mentioned the lens yet. It was also just fine thank you very much. Few blades to be had and f/1.8 is pretty common, but I must say that I liked it. Sharpness was just fine. Shooting directly into the sun it did just fine. The tones and contrast were great. The colors were great. Surely the film did the heavy lifting, but the lens did not rain on the parade, A solid lens.

The rest of the time. The camera did just fine thank you very much. Most every single shot came out just fine. Many far better than fine. Some of my favorite samples below

Rollei RPX 400

Canon T80 - RPX 400
Far focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Close focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Far focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Far focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Close focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Far focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400
Close focus.
Canon T80 - RPX 400

Fujifilm X-Tra Superia 400

Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Flare shot mentioned earlier. I like it.
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Far focus.
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Close focus.
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Canon T80 - Superia 400
I was astonished that this came out honestly. Expected the exposure and ficus to be off but nope.
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Another Stop Action mode shot with focus set to infinity.
Canon T80 - Superia 400
Another one shooting directly into the sun. Again, not bad at all.
Canon T80 - Superia 400
I love this shot.

Late add: Batteries. Four regular old available anywhere AA batteries are installed unobtrusively along the bottom of the body.

And that about wraps things up.

Do I recommend this camera?

Mostly yes.

Maybe not as your only camera though. For that, I would want something with more control. I would also was something with AF that was not a one year in production (1985-1986) only asterisk in Canon’s AF camera history.

But at the current regular used inexpensive asking price I think this would make a fun addition to someone’s collection.

To sum up.

Not as good as many other cameras. (But still capable of creating pleasing images.)

Far more weird than most. (A big plus in my book,)

Not nearly as awful as I thought it would be.

I understand. It can be fun to dunk on cameras. But I usually shy away from those kind of posts here. While I try to find something I like about most cameras there are cameras so bad and boring (A terrible pairing.) that I have chosen not to write about them.

Not a full on “good” camera. + Full automation. + Better than decent results. + A dash of weirdness. =…

I will definitely be using it again. A keeper.

Not bad for a camera that can be had for relative peanuts.

Your mileage may vary.

-ELW

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