Have you ever picked up a camera which seemed so familiar, so “right”, that it just felt great in your hands? That’s what the EX Auto feels like to me – with that early 1970s twist.
When researching the history of Canon cameras, an interesting little evolutionary dead end occurred in the late 60s and early 1970s with Canon’s EX EE in 1969 and EX Auto in 1972. These are the only two cameras ever to use Canon’s “EX” lens mount. However this could be a bit misleading: as with some of Kodak’s Retina cameras, the rear lens elements on the EX Auto are always attached to the camera body. The front lens element (with the EX mark) simply unscrews and can be swapped out for a total selection of four prime lenses. This captured rear portion of the lens makes for smaller removable lens attachments, however clearly must have affected optical flexibility with such a limited range of options. Case in point: there are no known zoom lenses for this mount.
With the base 50/1.8 lens, this camera feels very much like a contemporary Canon FTb or similar body.
My particular EX Auto is extremely clean, and the meter functions perfectly. The camera operates in shutter priority, or in full manual.
What’s So Special?
The EX Auto was the more advanced of the two EX mount Canon bodies. It added autodetection of the attached front lens maximum aperture and the cold shoe was updated to a hot shoe supporting the Canolite D – which adjusted for subject depth.
Aperture is set by a dial surrounding the film rewind knob, and can be set from 1.8 to 16, as well as an Auto option. I can’t think of another Canon camera which sets the lens aperture on the top left of the camera; certainly nothing of this vintage.
Shutter speed is set mechanically and goes from B to 1/500. The lens barrel controls are only used for focusing.
This lens has one unique and interesting feature I wasn’t sure what to make of at first. Along the right side of the barrel is a little switch with a blue flash symbol on it. When the lens is in the right position, this switch can be engaged into the focus ring, thus travelling with the focus ring, yet limiting focus to the reliable flash range for the matching Canolite D. An interesting mechanical solution to a technical limitation of the flash. I’ve not noticed this approach on any other Canon camera, though I suspect it would only be applicable for a known combination of lens/flash – so maybe a rangefinder, but no other contemporary Canon SLR could be that predictable.
This camera also boasts Canon’s QL quick load system for super fast loading of film. This system was primarily on their line of Canonet rangefinders, but also appears on a couple of their SLRs. To my eyes the system looks effective but extremely complex and would be a mess to repair – possibly why it was discontinued on later models.
- Small accessory EX lenses
- wonderful solid feel
- Nice metering solution
- Paired Canolite D adjusts for subject depth
- limited lens options: EX 50 mm f/1.8, EX 35 mm f/3.5, EX 95 mm f/3.5, EX 125 mm f/3.5
- not sure how to clean behind rear lens element/under pentaprism – mine has some dust in there
- in certain situations it seems like the camera could have aperture priority mode – it doesn’t
- Manufacturer: Canon
- Country of Origin: Japan
- Made in: Japan
- Introduced: 1972
- Camera Type: SLR
- Lens Mount: EX ( interchangeable screw in front lens element)
- Format: 35mm
- Battery: PX625, coin type door in the bottom
- Dimensions (cm):
- Serial: 249022
- Eyecup: standard Canon
- Strap: standard Canon
- Suggested Flashes: Canonlite D
- Canon EX Auto on Butkus
- Canon Camera Museum
- Ken Rockwell’s review
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