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Canon EOS system is 30 years old Review

Canon EOS

On 1st March 1987 Canon announced the EOS 650, the first EOS camera and the first Canon SLR to feature the EF lens mount. It was culmination of a two year project to develop a camera that was able to communicate electronically with the lens and to focus automatically.

To date there have been 98 Canon EOS cameras and to mark the brand’s 30th birthday I went down to Canon UK’s headquarters in Reigate to meet with the Product Intelligence Consultant and keen photographer, David Parry.

David has worked for Canon UK since August 2008 and over the years he has built up a collection of around 50 Canon EOS cameras. We spent an afternoon of quiet geekdom looking through his collection and rediscovering past milestones. Here are a few highlights of the system over its life so far:

Canon's David Parry

Canon EOS 650

As I mentioned earlier, the EOS 650 was the first ever EOS camera and it was designed to bring Canon bang up to date with a fast autofocusing system that would be a better competitor to Nikon and Minolta cameras.

David’s EOS 650 is still in working order and surprisingly, its BASIS autofocusing system still seems pretty nippy, even in quite low light. The kit lens is a little on the noisy-side, but it does the job okay.

Interestingly, while the 650 was the first EOS camera, the EOS 620 announced in May 1987 actually made it into UK shops first.

Canon EOS 750

Announced in October 1988, the Canon EOS 750 was designed for novice photographers. Cleverly, when the film was loaded into this camera the whole roll was wound through and onto the take-up spool. Then as shots were taken the film was wound back into the canister. This meant that if the camera was opened accidentally, only the unused film would be fogged and the exposed film would be saved.

Canon EOS-1

The Canon EOS-1 was announced in September 1988 as the flagship model for the line and was aimed at professional photographers. Its autofocusing sensor was billed as being four times more sensitive than the BASIS device in the EOS 650 and it could operate at down to -1EV. There was still only one focus point, but it was cross-type and able to detect horizontal-line subjects.

Canon EOS RT

In October 1989 Canon announced the Canon EOS RT with RT standing for ‘Real Time’ in recognition of the fixed pellicle mirror which significantly reduced shutter lag to just 0.008 sec. There was also a maximum continuous shooting speed of 5fps and predictive AI Servo AF, making it an attractive option for professional sports photographers.

Canon EOS 10

Canon EOS 10

Announced in March 1990, the Canon EOS 10 had 3 AF points. It was also supplied with a barcode reader and a book of example photos that had barcodes. The idea was that you scanned the bar code for the image that suited your scene and the reader was connected to the camera to transfer the set-up information.

David was a proud owner of the EOS 10 but he found the novelty of the barcode reader wore off pretty quickly.

Nevertheless, it was a good camera and with 3 AF points that displayed in the viewfinder with red LEDs, it was a taste of things to come.

Canon EOS 5

Canon EOS 5

The EOS 5, launched in November 1992, was first 35mm SLR to feature Eye Controlled Focus. After calibration it allowed you to select one of five AF points for focusing simply by looking at the desired point.

It was a reasonably effective system, but a little slow and many users, David included, preferred to stick with selecting the points manually.

Canon EOS DCS 3c

Canon EOS DCS 3

In July 1995 the first digital EOS camera was announced, the EOS DCS 3. This was the result of a collaboration between Canon and Kodak that married the flagship EOS-1N with a huge lump that contained a CCD with1.3 million pixels.

It had a 16MB buffer that enabled continuous shooting at 2.7fps in bursts of 12 images. Around 189 of the largest sized images could be saved to the 260 MB hard disk card. Sensitivity was limited to ISO200-1600 or ISO 400 to 6400 with black and white or infrared versions.

Holding the camera now it seems incredible that anyone could’ve used it, the digital section at the bottom seems to have been added with little thought to convenience or comfort.

Canon EOS IX

Canon EOS IX

October 1996 saw the announcement of the EOS IX, an SLR that took APS film. These cassettes were designed to make photography easier as the film loaded and rewound automatically, preventing loading mistakes that either resulted in missed shots or fogged film.

Even now the metallic finish and design which centres around the lens mount give it quite a futuristic look.

Canon EOS D2000

Canon EOS D2000

Canon introduced the third generation of its digital SLR in March 1998. This time the CCD had 2.0Mp and the body was dramatically reduce in size making it much easier to carry and use.

The 340MB memory allowed up to 160 high-quality images to be saved and it was possible to shoot at up to 3.5fps for burst of 12 images. Sensitivity range was still ISO ISO 200-1600 and there was a 1.8-inch colour CDC on the back.

Canon EOS 3

The Canon EOS 3, announced in November 1998 was aimed at professional and serious enthusiast photographers. It had 45-AF points and Eye Controlled Focus along with 7fps shooting and a 21-zone Evaluative metering system.

Canon EOS-1v

Canon EOS-1V

In March 2000 Canon announced the EOS-1V as the successor to the EOS-1N (a camera I used extensively for freelance photography). It was to be the company’s last 1-series film camera.

It featured a 45-point AF system with predictive AI servo AF at 9 fps shooting with the PB-E2 Power Driver Booster attached. Without AI Servo AF it was capable of shooting at 10fps with the PB-E2 in use, it meant you could blaze through a roll of 36 exposures in under 4 seconds.

Canon EOS D30

In October 2000 the EOS D30 was announced alongside the EOS 30. The D30 had an APS-C format CMOS sensor with 3.25Mp, 3 AF points, 35-zone Evaluative metering and a built-in pop-up flash with E-TTL capability – a first for EOS cameras. It could also shoot at up to 3fps for up to 8 Large/Fine images.

Images were stored on a CompactFlash (CF) card.

Canon EOS 10D back

Canon EOS 10D

March 2003 saw the announcement of the EOS 10D, a camera that is very close to my heart because it was my first digital SLR. It was a great camera in its day and it saved me a fortune in film processing costs. I still have it but I’ve long since had its 6.3Mp sensor converted to record infrared images. It seems very slow by modern standards and its 1.8-inch LCD is tiny.

Canon EOS 300D

The 63.Mp APS-C format Canon EOS 300D announced in September 2003 is credited with being the camera that brought digital SLR photography to the masses as it retailed for under £1000/$1000. It proved a very popular model.

Canon EOS 33V

In April 2004 Canon announced the ESO 33V which had the fastest Eye Controlled Focus system that Canon was to produce.

It also had Canon’s E-TTL II automatic flash exposure control for use with Canon’s EX-series Speedlite flashguns.

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EOS 5D

Canon’s EOS 5D, announced in October 2005, was the camera that made full-frame digital photography accessible to enthusiast photographers. Its CMOS sensor had 12.8 million effective pixels and the sensitivity range was ISO 100-1600 with expansion settings taking it to ISO 50-3200. Meanwhile the maximum continuous shooting speed was 3fps for up to 60 large jpegs.

The 5D also introduced the Picture Style function with settings including Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, and Monochrome to tailor jpeg files to suit the subject.

There was also a 2.5-inch LCD screen with 230,000 dots.

Canon EOS 450D

March 2008 saw Canon introduce its first DSLR with Live View capability to enable images to be composed on the 3-inch screen. The 12.2Mp EOS 450D was also the first Canon DSLR to use SD cards exclusively to store images.

Canon EOS 1000D

The Canon EOS 1000D, announced in June 2008 has the honour of being Canon’s first EOS XXXD model. Aimed at novices and families, this 10.1Mp camera also had Auto Lighting Optimizer, which brightens dark areas of the image.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The 21.1Mp EOS 5D Mark II of September 2008 was the first Canon DSLR to have video recording capability and started a huge trend towards DSLRs being used for shooting movies.

It also had a significantly improved AF system over the original 5D’s and a 3-inch 920,000-dot Clear View LCD monitor.

Canon EOS 7D

Dating from Oct 2009, the EOS 7D was the first DSLR to be designed following extensive consultation with photographers. According to David Parry, Canon’s engineers spent more time talking to British photographers than any other country’s because they make more use of the features and menu – thus they had more to say.

Although it had an APS-C format sensor (with 18 million effective pixels), the 7D was aimed at high-end users and had the same autofocus customisation options as the full-frame models above it in the line-up.

Canon EOS 60D

September 2010 brought the first Canon DSLR with a vari-angle screen. Coupled with Live View this enabled easier image composition at high or low angles whether shooting in landscape or portrait format.

Canon EOS 650D

Canon EOS 650D

A little under two years after the first vari-angle screen the EOS 650D of June 2012 introduced the first touch-screen to Canon DSLRs. This was a 3-inch Clear View II TFT device with approximately 1,040,000 dots.

Wisely, Canon didn’t remove any of the usual buttons and dials with the introduction of touch-control. Nevertheless, the touch-screen made quick work of selecting settings and browsing through images.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark III

In March 2012 Canon introduced the replacement to the 5D Mark II, the 22.3Mp EOS 5D Mark III which had a sensor with gapless micro-lens design to improve low light performance. It also had a Digic 5+ processing engine which was around 17 times more powerful than the Digic 4 engine in the 5D Mark II.

Amongst other things, this combination this enabled the sensitivity range to be expanded from ISO100-6400 to ISO100-25600.

The EOS 5D Mark III also had the same 61-Point AF system as the EOS-1Dx, with 41 cross-type AF points.

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Canon EOS M

In April 2012 Canon at last announced a mirrorless system camera. Canon used a proven 18Mp APS-C format sensor (also seen in the Canon 650D) along with a Digic 5 processor.

As well as new camera design, the M also introduced a new lens mount, EF-M which has shorter flange depth than EF.

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Canon EOS 6D

Billed as a camera for enthusiast photographers, the 20.2Mp EOS 6D joined a growing band of more affordable full-frame DSLRs in November 2012. At the time it was the smallest, lightest (680g) full-frame DSLR available.

It also had wireless connectivity built-in to enable images to be shared via a connected smartphone. In addition, Canon’s EOS Remote app enabled the 6D to be controlled remotely.

Canon EOS-1DC

The EOS-1DC was the first of Canon’s cinema line of DSLRs. Introduced in December 2012, it was capable of recording 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixel) video at a frame rate of 24p, cropped to APS-H size and 8-bit Motion JPEG compression. Furthermore, this footage could be recorded internally to a CF card.

Canon Log Gamma was available to generate footage that’s ideal for colour-grading.

Canon EOS 100D

Canon EOS 100D

Conscious of the size reduction brought by mirrorless cameras, in April 2013 Canon introduced the EOS 1000D which measures 116.8 x 90.7 x 69.4mm and weighs 307g, making it World’s smallest APS-C format DSLR at the time.

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Canon EOS 70D

In August 2013 Canon introduced the 20.2Mp EOS 70D for photographers looking to step up from entry-level cameras. It was the first camera to feature Dual Pixel CMOS AF, a technology that enables phase detection focusing in Live View video mode. This means that the sensor has pairs of phase detection pixels across around 80% surface. It brought a significant improvement in Live View and video focusing.

Canon EOS M5

The Canon EOS M5 (announced in September 2016) is the first Canon mirrorless system camera to feature a built-in Viewfinder. It has much in common with the Canon EOS 80D, including the same APS-C format sensor with 24.2 million effective pixels and Digic 7 processing, but the viewfinder is a 0.39-type electronic OLED device with 2,360,000 dots.

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30 Years of the Canon EOS system: Gallery of Cameras


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