Pros: The flagship of the manual camera fleet with the most available accessories.
Cons: I wish that it had longer exposure times, 2, 4, 8 seconds.
I have been a Canon man for over 35 years. My first Canon was an AE-1 Program, then an A-1. I have used these cameras for years and they have been most productive. I have always wanted an F-1 because of 1.) the name, 2.) the model, and 3.) the accessories that are available for this camera. Now there are two penta-prism housings available for this camera body, needle-match metering, and AE metering, interchangeable focusing screens, the regular meter prism housing that is standard with the camera and the AE prism housing that enables one to use the hotshoe with compatible flash units that set the exposure. My model is the standard model, the 1988-1991 Olympics Commemorative model. Even without a battery, this camera will operate its shutter mechanism at 1/90th of a second. With all of the accessories that are available, from the motor drive, the data back, to the 250-exposure film back, and there is even a Polariod film back available, this camera will perform to its best ability. All that you, as a photographer, have to do is make sure the lens is focused properly and the exposure is properly made. The F-1 does the rest.
I am a nature photographer as well as an historical and documentary photographer. All of my Canon's have motor drives mounted on them because of the way that I concentrate on photographing my subject matter, I do not want to think about advancing the film or how fast I have to get the next shot. I don't waste film, and I know what shots I plan to make before I make them. If I need to take a shot in a hurry and not need to worry about setting the exposure, I will use my AE-1 Prog., A-1, or T-90 body. However, if I can take the time to set the proper exposure, I use the F-1. When doing my nature photography, especially when trying to capture images of illusive or dangerous birds and mammals, I use a 500mm f/5.6 FD-FL lens. This is one of the older lenses, one of the first flourite lenses that Canon made, and one has to use stopdown metering. I really love this lens. If I had other options and no problems with funding, I would prefer the 300mm or 400mm f/2.8 or the 800mm f/5.6 FD lens with a 1.4X and a 2.0X tele-converter. But, because I was fortunate enough to find this lens, which came from Australia, I use it. It is big and heavy and when mounted with the F-1 aboard on a tripod, it is a 14-pound camera system that can do the job.
The Canon F-1 can do everything that it was designed to do, and with over 40 lenses available for it, it should always be considered the flagship of your manual-focus film camera fleet. Exposures from 1 second to 1/2000 second comes standard, and when you attach the Motordrive FN, which uses 10 AA Alkaline batteries, you have a system that can shoot a 36-exposure roll of film in 5 1/2 to 6 seconds. The only Canon camera that can outdo the F-1 in speed of running film through the body is the new Canon EOS 1n-HS camera.
I have been asked a lot of times, over the years, "why did you choose Canon over Nikon?" I know that 70% of the professional photographers that shoot 35mm use Nikon, and 25% use Canon, which is well and good. I looked mainly at the price of the system. I have never, ever had a problem with Nikon, they are great cameras. But when you compare brands and models that are equal in what they can do, like comparing an F-1 Canon to a Nikon F-2 or F-3, it is like comparing a Lincoln to a Cadillac. If one were to take the two brands, using the same lens, the same film, and identical photographic conditions to take an image of a subject, you can't tell the difference between the images. It is that simple. If the exposure is on the money as well as the sharpness of the focus, you will absolutely get a perfect image. I have seen 30X40 inch prints made from using 400 ISO 35mm film that look like they were made from medium format film. The technology in film-making is there! The lenses are exceptionally sharp, and the range of latitude of exposure adjustments are excellent. Because the F-1N body is made of a metal alloy, it is tough, unlike these plastic camera bodies, and it can handle the normal usage and sometimes rough usage that a pro photographer puts his or her equipment through during the progress of a photography session or safari.
As long as there is film still being made by Fuji and Kodak for the consumer or the professional photographer, I will use my Canon F-1N and never put it down. It does the job and does it most proficiently.