I was initially introduced to the T90 when, in a horrible coincidence, two of my Canon AE-1s were in need of repair. The camera was loaned to me by my local shop while I waited for my AE-1s. I was given this specific camera because, at the time, it was the only one the shop had which also used the FD lens system. So, I’d be free to use my lenses with it.
Not familiar with the T90, it was explained to me that this was the last major Canon camera with an FD mount. And, in fact, it got largely overlooked as the EOS system was released about a year after this camera came out. People were, apparently, more excited for the auto-focus capabilities of Canon’s new line than in the brand’s last professional manual-focus camera.
I’ll be completely honest—I was a little skeptical. Being used to (and preferring) the simplicity of cameras such as the AE-1, I wasn’t sure I’d like such a modern camera. The T90 has all of the features one would expect from a modern SLR… other than auto-focus, of course.
OK, so this thing is a tank. But, its weight doesn’t feel too bad thanks to great ergonomics. As many of you know, I often have to turn my camera upside-down to take certain double exposures. And, one of my first questions regarding handling this beast was “will it feel as good inverted as the AE-1s.” The feel of this, of course, is a little difficult to describe. So, to really show how the T90 handles upside-down, I think it’s best to show a shot from it next to a similar shot from an AE-1:
As you can clearly see, the weight from the camera seems to aid in the stabilization while inverted. And, it performs at least as well as the AE-1 in this regard. One disadvantage, however, is that searching for the shutter button with one’s left thumb takes marginally longer than finding the shutter on an inverted AE-1. Because of this, you can see that the light has moved more between the exposures in the T90 photo.
Apparently, there are eight different focusing screens available for the AE-1. I however, have only used the Split/Microprism screen. While similar the the AE-1, the screen feels much brighter on the T90. And, therefore, facilitates somewhat quicker focusing. Only using manual lenses during street photography can be a problem. So, any speed is an advantage. Consider, again, the following two shots—one from the AE-1 and one from the T90:
I think it’s pretty clear that those extra moments gained focusing with the brighter screen pay dividends. The photo from the T90 has less lag between exposures, where the lag seems to impact the aesthetic in the other.
In the end, I bought the T90 even though both AE-1s were repaired. It had become clear that, despite my initial apprehensions, it was a camera.