I turned 40 this past November and my father gave me his Canon FTb as a gift. This camera was built in the mid-1970’s making it almost as old as me. It is a beautiful camera and a meaningful gift, so I wanted to write about it.
The FTb was introduced in 1971 as a camera for advanced amateurs. It was similar in build quality and shared many features with the professional F-1. In fact, my father used this FTb as a companion for his F-1, although I’m not sure which he purchased first.
I had not seen it in years, however I remembered the FTb well, not least because as a child I carried my father’s cameras and bags over all manner of geography and terrain much like a caddy carries the golfers’ bags and clubs. Like many photographers, my father was enthusiastic about equipment and had a lot of it. Two large bags-full and about 50 pounds worth, I’d say. I carried while he shot.
My father introduced me to photography, taught me the basics, and used me as his assistant in the small darkroom he built in our basement. He passed on what had been a lifelong interest of his to me.
Things of material and sentimental worth often pass from generation to generation. Jewelry passes from Mother to Daughter and watches from Father to Son. Much as one might love their father though, it would be difficult to get excited about receiving his plastic quartz digital timepiece. Of course you want your father’s watch, but you also want it to be a well-made, mechanical instrument. I feel the same about cameras. It has been especially nice to receive a camera as seriously and finely made as the FTb. It was obviously made to have lasting stamina and value. This, along with its provenance as my father’s camera, makes it a singularly wonderful gift.