My Canon T90

This is my Canon T90. I wouldn’t call it pretty, but it is very clever. This camera was the precursor to the EOS range of autofocus SLR cameras, launched in 1986 it used the older canon FD range of manual focus lenses and is considered by many as the pinnacle of non-autofocus 35mm SLR cameras. I bought mine many years ago for not a lot of money as a second body to my Canon A1.


The camera is fully electronic with with all kinds of fancy modes and settings, including the now familiar P/A/S/M exposure modes and average/centre-weighted/spot metering options. A particular innovation was multi-spot metering whereby you can spot meter a highlight area, spot meter a shadow area, and then the camera exposes in the middle – the party trick being that you can log up to 5 spot readings which register on the readout scale in the viewfinder, allowing you to bias or tune the exposure. If you are familiar with the Ansel Adams zone system, it’s sort of like that. I think.

It also has three motors inside to deal with film transport (not sure on the FPS, but pretty rapid), rewind and shutter cocking and takes four AA batteries to keep it going.

Canon basically built a Nikon F5 ten years before Nikon did.


I have been using my T90 along side my A1 for years now. I tend to shoot monochrome with the AI and colour slide with the T90 due to it’s superior metering. The T90 is a joy to use, being similar in size to a modern pro level DSLR and seriously ergonomic for the era (the Nikon F4 followed 2 years later, so this was knocking about alongside the F3 era bodies) and using the now common button and command dial system to change settings.

I particularly like using it with a big 300mm lens on as it provides plenty of camera for you to hang on to and the sculpted hand grip is solid enough to hang the whole camera off one hand when it’s not up to your eye.


I’ve recently had mine serviced as it started to show signs of a sticky shutter, but it wasn’t expensive to sort and now works as good as new. The big selling point for this camera is that it combined a thoroughly modern body with an abundance of reasonably priced but excellent glass. A multi-coated 50mm f1.4 can be had for about a hundred quid and is a beautiful lens to use (and gaze lovingly at – I think it’s the deep purple hue of the coating) and a full set of f2.8 prime lenses can be easily obtained for less than a single good AF prime.

I’ve got some Kodak Ektar colour negative film to run through it sometime soon, I figured writing this post would hurry me along.


1 thought on “My Canon T90”

  1. The T90 is a landmark camera and one of my favourites. I have two T90’s and when I want to use manual focus lenses the T90 is always the one I want to use. Ergonomics are very very good and it’s hard to believe how old it really is!

    How is that Ektar treating you? I’m just shooting my first roll of Ektar now!

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