Computer Age! The 1984 Canon T70

Posted: 09/20/2012

The first of Canon’s “T” series cameras was the T50, which came to market in 1983. I wrote about the Canon T50 for FPP back in early 2011. I love that camera for its simplicity, its feel and balance in the hand, and its ability to accept the Canon FD lenses. But the T50 was really no more than a point and shoot aimed at providing entry-level photographers a small, simplified SLR.

A year later Canon introduced their second version in the series, the T70. This version retained the point and shoot simplicity of its predecessor, but provided the more advanced amateur with options for some control over exposure.

T70 Ektar019

Like the T50, you can still pick up good, working examples of the T70 on “The Bay” or through sellers like KEH. I got mine through a local camera shop’s E-Bay sales department. It was the body only and no strap. But for $15.00 and guaranteed to work I couldn’t pass it up.

And almost three decades after its release, the camera works just fine!

T70 Ektar021

Depending on the shooting conditions or your mood, you can snap away with the T70 just like you would the earlier T50. Which is to say, set your FD lens on the “A” indicator, then point, focus and shoot. Doing so you’ll find little to differentiate the two cameras either in their handling or their feel in the hand. They look about the same size (maybe the T70 is marginally larger) and feel about the same weight.

T70 Ektar 100-002

Other T50/T70 Similarities
Power: Two AA batteries. How simple is that? Canon rates the life of the batteries in the T70 at 60 rolls of 24 exposure (40 of 36) from a single set of alkalines, assuming a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.  (This is fewer than you get out of the T50, but it’s undoubtedly due to the T70’s power rewind feature.)
Takes Canon’s FD Lenses: Yep!
Programmed AE: Yep! But no choice of programming options on the T50.
Through the lens metering (TTL): Yep! Center weighted average only on T50, though.
Camera shake warnings (slow shutter speeds): Yep! In viewfinder only on T50. Viewfinder and LCD on T70.
DX Coding: Nope! You manually select your ASA, which ranges from 25 to 1600.
Focus: Manual!
Film Advance: Motorized.

T70 Only Features
Dual metering: “Center-weighted average metering” similar to the T50, but also “selective area metering” (the center 11% of the frame) for back-lit or strongly illuminated subjects.
Stop Down Metering: This feature applies only when using non-FD lenses or accessories that don’t include the FD signal pins (such as extension tubes).
LCD Display: Shows your programming mode, exposure count, selected ISO, shutter speed and the indicator for stop down metering. The battery check feature displays here, as does the film-in-camera indicator.  The LCD also indicates over/under exposure.  A built-in lithium battery retains the LCD memory if the AAs that drive the camera are dead.
Multiple programming modes: The T50 gave no options; the T70, on the other hand, provides several. “Program” for normal point and shoot snap shots; “Program Tele” for exposures oriented toward faster shutter speeds (and shallower DOF); and “Program Wide” for exposures oriented toward smaller apertures (and greater DOF). Plus, you can over-ride the AE and use manually-selected exposure settings.
Bulb Mode: Gives you that selectable long exposure capability the T50 lacks.  However, the shutter only stays open as long as you hold the shutter release button. The LCD will display the time up to 120 seconds. (Canon offered an accessory “Command Back 70” for long exposures up to 23:59:59.)
Camera shake warnings (slow shutter speeds): Yep! Visible in the LCD on T70, as well as in the viewfinder.
Film rewind: Hand-cranked on the T50 but motorized on the T70, and this I guess would account for the lesser quantity of films you would get out of a pair of AAs on the T70.
Non-AE lenses: OK!
Ni-Cd batteries: OK!

A nice feature on the T70 is the Exposure Preview button, which sits on the front of the camera adjacent to the grip. This feature allows you to see the exposure settings in program mode (so you don’t have to press the shutter release half-way), and also to lock the shutter speed when in shutter priority mode.

Arista EDU 400 Y2 Maybe-023

The main camera controls reside on the top plate. To the left of the prism you’ll find the meter/self-timer selector switch as well as programming mode button, ISO selector and battery check. To the right of the prism you’ll find the mode selector buttons, the LCD screen and the shutter release.

It’s all fairly simple to understand and use, once you realize how the program modes ("Wide" and "Tele") orient the shutter/aperture openings.

Arista EDU 400 Y2 Maybe-026

Since I shoot mostly with a 28 mm lens I tend to leave the camera set to “Program: Wide” thus emphasizing smaller apertures and greater DOF.

Is it worth investing in a T70?

Why not? They’re cheap and sturdy enough that you can throw one in your backpack or over your shoulder and take it anywhere with little to worry about. The AA batteries provide cheap and widely-available power, and the FD glass will give you crisp images.

T70 Ektar 100-036

And with that thought in mind, I think I'll look for another T70 as a back up!

(A note about the images: I used Freestyle's Arista EDU 400 for the black and white shots. I used Kodak Ektar 100 for the color shots. I steadied the camera on my knee for the pier shot, albeit not as steadily as I would have preferred.)

Brian Moore has been a photography nut since his early teens when he got his first camera, a Polaroid 210 Automatic Land Camera. Many cameras have come and gone since then but Brian’s enthusiasm for the photographic craft, its history, and the little light-tight boxes that make it all possible remains.


Additional reading:

Canon T70 on the Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia -

Canon T70 on MIR -

Canon T70 on -

Canon T70 in the Canon Camera Museum -



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