Canon F-1 introduced March 1971 according to Canon Camera Museum. Improvements were made in September 1976 in what the Canon Camera Museum calls the F-1 (Later model) or the F-1N. A new F-1 was introduced in September 1981 according to the Canon Camera Museum.
The F-1 was Canon’s first truly professional level SLR designed to compete with the Nikon F. It is heavy, rugged and designed to withstand the rigors of professional use. “With the first F-1 in 1971, Canon promised that the camera would remain unchanged for 10 years.” (Canon Camera Museum discussing the New F-1.) This was achieved with relatively minor updates with the F-1N. The camera was designed to withstand 100,000 camera cycles. Mine is the original model since, among other things, the film advance is 180 degrees and the top ISO is 2000. The F1 was expensive with the body only priced at $399.50 in the 1977-78 Sears Camera Catalog. That’s equal to $1,400 in 2008 dollars. Comparing it to other cameras at the time, a Canon AE-1 body was $219.50 and a Nikon F2a body was $454.50 in the 1977-78 Sears Catalog. Comparing it to modern Canon professional level cameras, it was more expensive in constant dollars than a new Canon 50d digital SLR body at about $1,100 or a 40d at about $780, although less expensive than a Canon 5d Mark II full frame 21.1 megapixel SLR at about $3,300 (approximate prices at Amazon on 1-2-09). It is a manual camera with open aperture match needle metering, removable finder, depth of field preview, mirror lock-up and shutter speeds of 1 to 1/2000. The manual is available in pdf format at www.canonfd.com. Several sites have detailed information about the F-1 including: Classic Modern SLR Series,Wikipedia – Canon F-1, Mayer, “The Canon F-1 35mm SLR; A Real Pro Of Its Time,”Shutterbug (April 2007). I purchased mine in the summer of 2008 in La Mesa, CA from an ad on Craigslist paying $150 for the F-1, a Ricoh twin lens reflex and a Gossen Luna Pro meter. It is in excellent working and cosmetic condition (slight dent on prism housing). The lens pictured, a 135mm f2.5 Canon FD, was purchased earlier.