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Canon L1 ?
Old 08-10-2018   #1
santino
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Question Canon L1 ?

Hi all.

Can you tell me something about the Canon L1? There is some info on the internet but insufficient

How is the build quality (especially how do the shutter curtains stand the test of time) ?
Is it fairly easy to repair ? (the one I could get does not always engage the slow speeds).

I just love the simple, clean design.

Thanks in advance
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Old 08-10-2018   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santino View Post
Hi all.

Can you tell me something about the Canon L1? There is some info on the internet but insufficient

How is the build quality (especially how do the shutter curtains stand the test of time) ?
Is it fairly easy to repair ? (the one I could get does not always engage the slow speeds).

I just love the simple, clean design.

Thanks in advance
It is one of the best non-bottomloading LTM Canons (along with its sisters the L2 & L3)
High build quality and a much better and larger VF/RF over even the so called improved bottomloader Canons. The rotating tri-finder is very useful with a 35mm lens, so there is no need for a separate clip on 35mm VF

The L1 is really a VT series Canon with out the bulk and weight of the permanently attached "Leicavit" type folding trigger film wind of the VT series, as the L1 has a common thumb wind film advance lever of most 35mm film cameras.

The viewfinder on the L1 and VT series ages well and will have no internal reflections like on the later VIT or VIL or P Canons with their reflected frame lines in the VF

Most L1 cameras will have cloth shutters and most of the ones I seen are well used and well loved but the condition of a 61 year old camera can be all over the place, and most cameras that old would need some servicing to make them reliable machines on the long haul no matter who made them.

The L1 series was not produced in as large numbers as the VT series, which is odd, as most photographers even in the late 1950s preferred thumb lever film wind over trigger wind just like they do today.

Note: Canon did produce an even more improved L1 and L2 later on.. known as the VL and VL2
these had metal shutter curtains and a self timer, but are not that common.
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Old 08-10-2018   #3
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I had an L1 but its rangefinder patch faded to the point of being unusable. It’s not easy to repair that fault from what I can work out, because of the combined viewfinder/rangefinder. So make sure if you buy one that the rangefinder double image is contrasty and bright. Otherwise the camera was well-made and well-designed. I think the L1 initially had cloth and then later metal shutter curtains. The metal ones seem susceptible to wrinkling, but are otherwise robust.
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Old 08-10-2018   #4
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The L1 I once owned scratched eyeglasses, even with attempted protections (corn plaster trick). Nice camera though. High quality. Good value. About .75x. Very cool to have the three magnifications of the viewfinder.
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Old 08-10-2018   #5
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The L1 is a beautiful camera! Mine had issues with the slow speeds, but was quite an easy fix... a lot of the repair info for the canon P is very relevant for the L1..

Good luck if you decide to buy!

Dave
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Old 08-10-2018   #6
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I wrote an overview of L2, which is very similar to L1

https://www.rangefinderforum.com/for...d.php?t=155715

I just need to add Canon somehow bragged in one of the user manuals regarding models with metal curtains, they claimed the metal curtains to be more all-weather-ish than traditional cloth ones.
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Old 08-10-2018   #7
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See this review by the head bartender.

https://www.cameraquest.com/crfl1bl.htm

Jim B.
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Old 08-10-2018   #8
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Thanks for all the input!
I already saw the review on cameraquest (which is btw one of the few I found on the whole net).

The only "problem" is I just have FSU M39 lenses and the super wide Heliar... does the J12 mount on the L1? - it's one of my favourite lenses

What would you consider to be a fair price ?
The camera is in OK user condition.
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Old 08-10-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davidhel View Post
...a lot of the repair info for the canon P is very relevant for the L1..
Dave
Dave, could you elaborate on the “repair info” and sources you’ve used for your P — in particular that which helped you get the slow speeds back up to snuff.
Thanks

Dave
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Old 08-11-2018   #10
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Sure!

I have serviced LTM Leicas over the years, but what really impressed me was just how easy it is to get right into the L1... I used this to get me inside...

http://www.pentax-manuals.com/manual...n_p_repair.pdf

Once open, I was able to clean the slow speed mechanism with lighter fuel and put small amounts of oil in the other normal places. The whole thing didn’t take very long... and was a lot easier than the Leicas!
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Old 08-11-2018   #11
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Originally Posted by davhill View Post
Dave, could you elaborate on the “repair info” and sources you’ve used for your P — in particular that which helped you get the slow speeds back up to snuff.
Thanks

Dave
In the canon P, 7, and earlier cameras like the L1 you just have to take the body shell off to gain access to the slow speed mechanism which is under the lens mount. Usually this is done by removing the lens mount, a few screws under that, 4 screws on the front of the camera body shell and the self timer winder if it’s present. Around 14 screws to get inside for the canon P if I remember.
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Old 08-11-2018   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davidhel View Post
Sure!

I have serviced LTM Leicas over the years, but what really impressed me was just how easy it is to get right into the L1... I used this to get me inside...

http://www.pentax-manuals.com/manual...n_p_repair.pdf
Thank you, thank you. THAT manual! 6 months ago I went in circles trying to locate this without getting my system hijacked or giving up a firstborn child. Finally gave up...
I am very much obliged 🙏
David Hill, Boston
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Old 08-11-2018   #13
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Thank you also, Nathan. A new adventure begins 👀 . I’ll report back if I screw this up too badly. Heh. Oh my. Let’s not... -dave
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Old 08-11-2018   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by santino View Post

The only "problem" is I just have FSU M39 lenses and the super wide Heliar... does the J12 mount on the L1? - it's one of my favourite lenses


My J12 mounted on my L1 Santino. Very close clearance, but it did fit.
John Mc
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Old 08-11-2018   #15
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“J-12 mounted on my L1-Santino ... It fits” — and his j12 has the metal ring around the rear element, which seem to be the troublesome versions.

There appear to be some variations in the J12 rear element—they’re not all exactly the same size. This appears to be most critical with the Canon P: some J12s barely fit in a P, some don’t (mine fits). I suspect the L has a tiny bit more leeway, but I say this only because I haven’t heard complaints about J12+L. So anecdotally, you’re ok. Good luck

~David Hill~
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Last edited by davhill : 08-11-2018 at 05:37. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-13-2018   #16
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The camera is sold (not to me unfortunately).
Thanks for the infos anyway
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Old 08-16-2018   #17
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I finally spotted a decent L1 in Europe. Seller noted that long times aren't running, but that's ok. It will get a decent CLA very soon.
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Old 08-16-2018   #18
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L1 (and VL with metal curtains) are excellent cameras with great ergonomics and seem to withstand the ravages of time very well.
I've serviced several and the only problem is the 1/1000th speed is a bit prone to inconsistent exposure, particularly in cold weather. I wouldn't point this out as a design flaw if I hadn't encountered the identical problem on several different bodies. Could be the springs don't age well. The Canon 7 seems to fare better in that respect. But the silky-smooth winding mechanism on the L1/VL series will give any other Canon RF (or even Leica) a run for its money.
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