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Canon AE Power Winder FN (1981-)
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Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

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Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations


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The Canon AE Power Winder FN is a 2 FPS power winder dedicated to the Canon New F-1.

It is a smaller version of the 3.5 FPS Canon AE Motor Drive FN.

I only bought this thing to get the shutter-priority auto exposure (AE) mode with the Canon New-F-1.

Canon screwed New F-1 users by locking-out the shutter-priority mode unless you bought either this Canon AE Power Winder FN or the Canon AE Motor Drive FN.

I'm serious. I thought my Canon New F-1 was broken, since everything worked perfectly except that the shutter wouldn't release if I had the lens set to A, and lo and behold, a very careful read of the Canon New F-1 user's manual admits that the shutter is locked out when the lens is set to A unless you attach one of these winders, and have good batteries in it.

The "AE" of each of these model names means that the winder or motor drive enables the Tv shutter-priority mode of the New F-1. What a raw deal; do you really want at least another full pound of weight around your neck just to get one more auto mode?

That said, the AE Power Winder FN is impeccably well made, and works very well. Its only weak point seems to be the plastic battery compartment end cap and a potentially weak catch. If it fails, duct tape ought to hold it together just fine.

I'm reviewing the AE Power Winder FN here; I only mentioned the AE Motor Drive for perspective.


Specifications     top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations


Canon AE Power Winder FN.



Canon New F-1, only.



4-AA, either alkaline, Ni-Cd or even those awful carbon-zinc "heavy duty" batteries.

Lithium AAs weren't invented in 1981, and I'll bet they work great and I know they'll save a lot of weight.


Battery Life

Canon rates it for 20 rolls of 36-exposures, but that's with crummy carbon-zinc batteries.

It ought to run a lot longer with alkalines, and run for years on lithiums that weren't invented back in 1981.



Made in Japan.


Weights (actual measured)

AE Power Winder FN, no batteries: 11.545 oz. (327.3g).

AE Power Winder FN and alkaline batteries: 14.980 oz (424.7g).

AE Power Winder FN, batteries and two captive caps from the F1: 15.050 oz.(426.6g).

New F-1, strap lugs (no strap), AE Power Winder FN, and batteries: 44.475 oz. (1,260.9g).

New F-1, strap lugs (no strap), AE Power Winder FN, batteries and 50/1.4 FD: 51.775 oz. (1,467.8g).



Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

It works fine.

It feels great shot horizontally, but vertically it feels clumsy because the vertical grip is ugly and square. The regular grip is well-sculpted.

It's from 1981; it's not smooth like motors today. For instance, it doesn't power the camera from the 4-AAs in the drive; you still need to have another good A544 battery in the New F-1, and if you need to replace the New F-1's battery, you have to pull off the winder.

You still have to rewind by hand. For power rewind, you want the even bigger Canon AE Motor Drive FN.

Installation the first time is clumsy, see the Usage section for details.

The attachment screw is offset from the New F-1's tripod screw. It uses a geartrain that turns the tripod screw 25% faster than you turn the attachment key on the bottom of the winder.

The motor doesn't sound that sure of itself, but tough: if you want a faster motor, buy the bigger and heavier 3.5 FPS AE Motor Drive FN instead.


Usage         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations


Bottom, Canon AE Power Winder FN

Bottom, Canon AE Power Winder FN. enlarge.

Slide the switch (seen on the right) in the direction of the arrow to pop off the battery cover.

Pop in 4-AA batteries and pop the cover back on.

Canon suggests to remove the batteries if you're not going to use it for 3 weeks or more.


Mounting        top

The New F-1 has three threaded covers on the bottom.

You have to remove two of these three; the winder coupler cover and the AE coupler cover as shown here:

Bottom of Canon New F-1

Bottom of Canon New F-1. enlarge.

Leave the rewind coupler cover attached; it comes off only for use with the Canon AE Motor Drive FN, which adds power rewind. If you pull off the rewind coupler cover, you could fog your film, another reason to skip the AE Motor Drive FN. This isn't a problem with this AE Power Winder FN.

Once you get the two covers off, stick the little one inside the big one, and slip the two of them in their holding slot inside the battery case of the AE Power Winder FN. You open the battery cover by sliding a switch on the bottom of the winder. Thank God I found an instruction manual to this winder at OC Camera, without which I never would have figured any of this out.

Cap Stowage, Canon AE Power Winder FN

Cap Stowage, Canon AE Power Winder FN. enlarge.

Now that you've got the covers off the bottom of the New F-1 and the caps and batteries stowed, turn the big screw on the bottom of the winder to stick it to the bottom of the New F-1.

Finger-tight is fine; I see no need to wrench it down with a coin.


Film Loading and Frame Counter Setting         top

Rear, Canon AE Power Winder FN

Rear, Canon AE Power Winder FN. enlarge.

Now that you have the winder mounted on the New F-1, press the RESET button on the back of the winder to reset the winder's frame counter back to S.

Load your film and advance it to frame one as usual, using either the motor or your thumb. When you get to frame 1 on the camera, the winder will show 36.

If using a shorter load, after you get to frame 1 on the camera, press in the SET knob and slide it to the left until the winder's counter reads the same as the number of exposures on your film.

The winder uses this reverse-counter to stop itself before you get to the end of the roll and the winder tries to rip your film to shreds.

In actual testing, I found that the winder is smart enough to stop itself at the end of the roll without damaging the film when it senses an increase in torque.

This shows us that the built-in counter is to prevent film damage in extreme cold. For resort use, I wouldn't worry about it and I'd let the winder stop itself when it tries to grab the end of the roll.

The winder counts down while camera counts up. This is very useful, since the counter on the back of the winder is far easier to read than having to flip the camera around to read the smaller counter on the top of the New F-1.

The winder has 36, 24, 20, 12 and 6 • 4 • 2 • 0 in bright orange.


Shooting        top

You now have three shutter buttons, each with their own locks: one on the camera, one on the top of the winder, and a vertical release on the bottom of the winder.

It's always OK to turn off the winder and wind by thumb.

You can set any speed from 8s - 1/2,000 in shutter priority and manual modes, including the bolt (1/90).

Don't use the winder's shutter release in Bulb; if you do, the shutter fires at 1/1,000 instead. Use the camera's release button (or a cable release) and it works fine in Bulb with the power winder.

The S (single-frame) mode, set on the dial around the winder's shutter button, does a cool trick: it fires, and does not wind until you let off the button. You then can stick the camera under your arm to hide the sound. Of course you could just throw the winder away and use your thumb if you wanted quiet, but hey, you'd lose Tv (shutter-priority) mode.

The C mode works as we'd expect. It fires and advances one frame if you press and release, and if you hold it, runs at 2 FPS.


If the Winder is OFF        top

The shutter releases on the winder always work, even if there are no batteries in it!

If the winder is OFF, the top winder release is locked, but the bottom vertical release and the camera's own releases will fire the camera unless you lock each of them separately.

You will have to wind film by thumb, but it will shoot. The only thing the OFF switch does is lock the winder's top release and turn off the motor; it doesn't lock any shutter releases except the one it surrounds.

If you want to lock the shutter releases, you have to lock each of them separately.


If the Winder has No Batteries        top

The winder may be turned off and you still get shutter-priority (Tv) mode, but if the winder has no batteries or they're dead, you won't.

The release buttons on the winder work fine with no batteries, but the shutter won't fire with the lens set to A.

Wind by thumb and you've still got a regular and vertical grip.

Considering that Canon says even those crummy non-alkaline "heavy duty" batteries sold in dollar stores and tiendas all over the third world are OK, I doubt you'll ever have any problems finding batteries.


If the New F-1's Battery Dies        top

With no battery in the camera, the New F-1 works fine between 1/90 and 1/2,000, and at the bolt (1/90).

Only the camera's release button works.


At the End of the Roll        top

The winder stops winding when its counter hits 0. You probably have a few frames left, but the winder doesn't want to damage your film. The red light on the winder's back lights to tell you you're empty.

If you want a free frame or two, turn off the winder and use your thumb to advance the film. Even with the winder OFF, you can still use its vertical release.

If you reset the winder's counter so it doesn't say 0 and it keeps on running, you should be able to shoot until the very end of the roll without damage under most conditions.


To Rewind        top

Press RESET on the winder's counter so the winder gets back to normal operation. The red light stays on anyway while we rewind.

On top of the New F-1, turn the R button (between shutter dial and the New F-1's shutter release), then press it down to release the film.

Rewind with the crank and take out the film.

The red light clears and the winder advances.

If you turned off the winder or forgot to press the counter's RESET button, wind the thumb lever the rest of the way to clear the red light. (The winder won't run while the counter is at 0, so resetting it before you rewind lets the winder clear the red light after you rewind automatically.)

Cheapskates like me will turn off the winder and advance by thumb the last couple of frames; normal people will just leave the winder ON.


Multiple Exposures        top

Rotate and press down the New F-1's "R" (rewind) button near the shutter-speed dial.

Shoot away with the winder's releases.

When done, make your last shot with the camera's own shutter button, which resets the R button. (The rewind button doesn't reset when using the winders releases, but does clear when camera's shutter is pushed halfway.)

When making multiple exposures, both frame counters continue counting, which is totally retarded because your winder is now going to stop advancing well before the end of the roll! In this case, turn off the winder and advance by thumb to shoot the rest of your roll, or press the winder's counter's RESET button to let the winder keep winding away.


Remote Control         top

Turn off the winder so it doesn't fire while plugging-in an electronic remote cord.

Use something with a 2.5mm plug, plug it in, turn winder back on and have at it.

You'll do this for remote control for scientific purposes.

For photography, just use a regular cable release threaded directly into the New F-1. This also lets you get Bulb, and the winder works swell.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Usage   Recommendations

Got a Canon New F-1?

Want shutter-priority auto exposure, or a small winder?

Don't mind an extra pound around your neck?

Then get one.

I have not used the AE Motor Drive FN; I only got this AE Power Winder FN to use the shutter-priority mode of the New F-1.

The New F-1, even without any of these extortionate winders, offers manual and aperture-priority exposure modes. The only mode locked-out without the winder or motor drive is the Tv shutter priority mode.



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