The Worst Cameras Of All Time Part I: The Nikon N70

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The Nikon N70 film camera of 1994.

In this new series, we will take a look at cameras that somehow didn’t make the cut, but beyond just that, they had something about them or their design that made them less than pleasurable to use.

What separates this from “The Best Camera I Never Knew” series? I don’t know, it’s a thin line between love and hate as the song says! 🙂

First up…

THE NIKON N70 CAMERA

The Nikon N70 (also known as the F70 overseas) is a 35mm SLR film camera introduced by Nikon in 1994.

At the time, it was Nikon’s top enthusiast model. Indeed, I think this camera set the stage for future “Number 7”  enthusiast’s models from Nikon, such as the Nikon D70/D70s digital slr of 2004, the pro/semi-pro D700 full-frame DSLR of 2008 and the D7000 of 2010, just to name a few as the “7” naming scheme continues to this day with Nikon.

As a camera, the N70 is an autofocus film camera which offers a shutter speed range of 30 seconds to 1/4000 plus bulb. The camera has a built in drive capable of 3.7 fps in high speed mode. It has matrix, center-weighted, and spot metering.

The camera is powered by two CR123A batteries.

MY RECOLLECTION OF THE N70

I got one of these in 1995 and I remember being smitten by this new toy. It came at a time when my interest in photography had been renewed after using my Minolta X-700 for ten years previously.

The N70 looked and felt nice and feels good in the hand. But that’s where it all ends, ergonomically.

The N70’s claim to fame was its unique “fan” wheel of sorts. It is actually a control panel that has become known as the FAN. But this is also its achilles heel. Now before any N70 fans (yes, there are some) out there start bashing me, I will say that once you do get the hang of the FAN it works pretty well and some like it.

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The Nikon N70 is distinguished or perhaps cursed by its very unique, very funky electronic FAN control panel. Once you can figure it out, it will “allow” you to take good pictures 🙂

I remember being very happy with the results. The camera provided speedy AF and seemed to deliver perfect or near perfect exposures.

So why do I appear to be bashing it now? It all comes down to, once again, that FAN my friends!

Ok, yes, in 1994 I was twenty-two years younger and enjoyed fiddling around with electronic gadgetry trying to figure out how to work this camera. In 2016, I am twenty-two years older and have very little patience to try and figure this camera out again. Ok, that’s not the camera’s fault 🙂

And more so today, when you can get a camera like the Nikon N90s from the same era or even the older N8008s for the same price, anyone actually wanting to use the N70 I think has too much time on their hands!

I could try to break down how to use this “fan” shaped thingy, but that would take way too much time and I’d have to write a whole book on it!

BOTTOM LINE

Ok, it’s not the worst camera ever, I will give it that. It delivers great results, I will give it that.

I think the Nikon N70 came at a time when Nikon was facing some very strong competition from Canon’s all electronic EOS series and they allowed its designers some very liberal creative freedoms.

As I said a few times before (as in my Rollei A110 and Rollei Rolleimatic reviews), being creative is a good thing, but being too creative might not be such a good thing. And this time, I can’t even blame it on Heinz Waaske!

Nikon is known for cameras with great ergonomics that are easy to use and quick to figure out. This is one of the reasons pros love Nikons. The N70 is radically different from any Nikon economically. Its design was never seen before or since, which makes me think that even Nikon knew it was too funky!

I’ve said many times, one of my prerequisites for a good camera is a camera that you can figure out how to use without an instruction manual. Maybe not for everything, but for at least 80 to 90 percent of its functions. You will need a manual if you want to figure out all  the Nikon N70/F70 can do. That says everything!

The Nikon N70 is a camera that actually will allow its users, indeed reward its users with the ability to take a picture once you can figure it out. For that “FAN” design alone, I would call it a Camera Legend, but maybe not in a good way 🙂

It is one of my contenders for the “Worst Camera Of All Time” and indeed, it might be the worst designed Nikon ever, but being that I have a soft spot for Nikons, I don’t think it’s the worst camera I’ve ever used.

If you like funky cameras, you can’t do much better than a Nikon N70. Buy one if only for that FAN! 🙂

WHERE TO BUY?

If seeking one of these to use, and again I’m repeating to use, I’m not sure that’s a good idea, but prices are very good! They go anywhere from “free” to $50.

I recently picked up one for nostalgia’s sake for $3 dollars. I don’t intend to use it. I just marvel at the FAN 🙂

If you want one to use, you may find a good selection HERE.

***DEAL ALERT***

There are some great deals going on now on CANON gear. Interesting to me is the hot new Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 macro for the EOS-M series with built in ring-light! This is one lens that I’m interested in getting for myself. Check it out in the links for great deals and prices.

SPECIAL NOTE

I would like to apologize to my fellow bloggers and readers of this site. I know I come on sporadically and I know it’s slowed down quite a bit.

The truth of the matter is that I never meant this to be a daily blog. I wanted this to be a long term project, which is what it is. When writing about Camera Legends like the Polaroid 180 or the Canon T90 or the Nikon F5, for example, I realize this information will be out on the internet for a long time and with that in mind, I try to take care on what I write and what I say.

As the body of articles build up, these pages become more like a book on cameras, which is closer to my original goal.

I do want to thank the small, but loyal folks and friends who read this blog. I do this blog for me, and I do it for you too. Thanks 🙂

 

Tuesday Titans: The Original 11mp Canon EOS 1Ds The Camera That Killed Film

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“The Mountaintop” 2005. With the 1Ds in 2005. Please excuse this funky pic! At that time, I felt I had been to the “mountaintop” and wanted to show that I, the “Ghetto-Blaster” and a mere mortal, could also hold in my peasant hands, the Camera Legend that is the Canon EOS-1Ds.

The Canon EOS-1Ds is an 11.1 megapixel full-frame digital SLR, released by Canon Inc 2002.

While not the first 35mm full-frame digital (the Contax N Digital I also reviewed is), the Canon EOS-1Ds ruled the roost as the “King” of digital photography and had a segment of the market all to itself for quite a few years.

Why? Because to have 11 megapixels and a full-frame sensor in 2002 was totally and utterly mind blowing!

It’s hard to appreciate this in today’s flooded market of 24 to 42mp full frame cameras, especially if you’re relatively new to all this. You should try to “transport” yourself back to 2001, even before the 1Ds came to market, but even then it’s not as mind-blowing as having lived through this era.

In 2002, we were still barely out of the 3mp range when it came to high end cameras. The 2.7mp Nikon D1 and the 3mp Canon EOS-D30 were the hot cameras of the day. Six megapixel cameras were coming to market. But the EOS-1Ds was on another plane altogether.

I still remember it well. The 1Ds was at a level where very few “mere mortals” like myself could reach. Not only was it incredibly expensive at $7999, but there was such an aura around the camera that made it seem untouchable for many like myself.

THE 1Ds AS A CAMERA

Since this is not meant to be a full throttle review, I will just state some of the key features and deficits of the 1Ds.

The 1Ds, as with all EOS-1 series cameras, has an impressively tough build quality and iconic looks. You know a 1D series camera when you see one, you can’t mistake it for anything else.

The 1Ds is an autofocus camera with 45 AF points. The AF system was similar to all 1D series cameras of its time (1D Classic, 1D MKII) and is derived from the EOS-1V film camera, the last and most advanced pro EOS film camera.

The AF is quick and accurate in all but the lowest of low light settings. Canon’s 1 Series cameras have always had excellent autofocusing abilities and I have nothing bad to say about this.

The 1Ds has a shutter range of 30 seconds to 1/8000 and an ISO range of 100-1250, plus a special ISO 50 (L) that can be used though it is not part of the native ISO range for the camera. The viewfinder is bright with 100 percent coverage.

Compared to today’s cameras, the 1Ds lacks amenities such as focus peaking or any other focusing aids for manual lenses. Unlike many Nikons, the 1Ds will not give you electronic focus confirmation using manual lenses. You can however buy adapters with built in focus confirmation chips on them.

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“After The Fall” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds, Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8

The back LCD is small and low resolution at 2″ and 120,000 pixels. Image playback magnification was available, but had to be done through a two step process that was clunky to use.

For a film camera lover, this kind of digital camera is quite appealing, despite its drawbacks and flaws. The 1Ds with manual lenses is as close you can get to a 1V film camera with manual lenses. It will make you work for that shot!

A TRUE CLASSIC

If there was a candidate for a “classic” digital camera, the original 1Ds is it.
In fact, today people refer to it as the 1Ds Classic.

That is true, and it is a digital classic, but the main reason people refer to it as the 1Ds Classic is to differentiate it from the couple of incarnations that came after it, ie, the 1Ds Mark II, and the 1Ds Mark III.

The 1Ds had a huge impact at the time of its introduction. It is often considered the camera that “killed” off film as the professional photographer’s medium of choice.

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“The Champ” 2013. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/.12L. The 1Ds Classic became the “Champion” of digital photography in 2002.

As a film lover, I have to say that filmed being “killed” by the 1Ds may be a bit of an overstatement. I mean, of course, film is still here with us, thank God, nearly fifteen years later.

However, in some ways, it is not an overstatement at all. When you look back to 2002, the 1Ds really did have a huge impact on the perception that digital was not able to compete with film yet. It changed that notion for many photographers.

Eleven megapixels was huge in those days, kinda like 36 megapixels today, so keep that in mind when enjoying your new 42mp camera 🙂

Many who used the 1Ds back in the day were saying that not only was it as good as film, they were saying the 1Ds surpassed film in overall quality. Professional photographers who were shooting 35mm and medium format film took to the 1Ds in droves.

THE RISE OF DIGITAL AND THE LEGACY OF THE 1DS

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“Rise” 2013. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 85mm f/1.2L. The 11.1mp EOS-1Ds helped usher in the rise of digital photography while driving film into the niche market that it is today.

I remember back in 2002-2003, many non professional photographers (myself included) were day-dreaming about owning the 1Ds and imagining the detail possible with that “titanic” 11 megapixel resolution.

The 1Ds was one the first digital cameras that really showed the true potential of digital photography. I truly believe it is one of the cameras that pushed film photography into the niche market that it has become.

The 1Ds took digital image quality to another level. You can search and find all the photographers, including very hard to please landscape photographers raving about it. Fashion, portrait, and advertising photographers also took to it.

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“Swan Lake” 2015. Canon EOS-1Ds, EF 135mm f/2L

But the 1Ds also reminds us that with digital cameras, you’re King for the day, and a has-been by tomorrow.

Swing over to today and think of the 36mp, 42mp, and 50 plus megapixel cameras we have now. Take the lesson from the 1Ds that eventually these “high” resolution numbers will seem like nothing 🙂

BOTTOM LINE

I sold everything to buy my first 1Ds in 2005. I bought it from a professional fashion photographer who swore by it and took some really awesome shots with it.

But for me, as a street and available light shooter? Sold it in two weeks. Hated it! Why? I was shocked at the noise in nearly all iso settings. The 12mp 5D had just been released and I had such buyer’s remorse. Got a 5D afterwards and was much happier.

I was able to get a 1Ds in 2012 as part of a trade deal, and having more experience with post-processing, as well as  appreciating “grain” I have come to love the 1Ds. Thanks to a relatively weak AA filter, it produces images with great sharpness, and the noise can actually be used as a creative part of the image. I hate to say the overused cliche “film-like” but this is one of those cameras where you can coax that elusive film-like digital image with some work.

To this day, there are people who swear the 1Ds can produce “magic” that few
cameras can. I’m not sure it can defy the laws of digital nature, but it certainly is one of the few cameras out of the many that I have used, that has an undeniably powerful aura about it. The original Canon EOS-1Ds is a true Camera Legend that had a titanic impact on the world of photography.

WHERE TO BUY?

Make no bones about it. Compared to today’s cameras, the 1Ds is severely out-dated and out performed.

But it has a few things going for it. It is a full-frame camera, which still keeps it in the top tier, even for an older digital camera. It has a weak AA filter, which I mentioned. It has 11.1 megapixels, which may not be incredible for today, but is still plenty good enough. I’ve always said anything ten megapixels and up is usable for almost anything, except for that high budget ad campaign where you need a Hasselblad H4D 60mp, that you and I won’t be doing 🙂

The great news for all camera lovers is that the 1Ds has gotten quite affordable. If seeking one of these, prices are trending at $300-450.

I would highly recommend buying from a place where there is a good return policy because the 1Ds is really old on the market. Canon no longer services these cameras and I don’t know who does. The good thing is that these cameras were built to last for a very long time. The bad news is that, as with all electronic cameras, they can fail tomorrow. For a safe purchase you may try HERE and HERE.

The Smallest Nikon: Nikon S01 Digital Camera

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“Baby Nikon” The smallest Nikon camera, the S01 🙂

Probably not what you expected after going missing for a few days, but I’ve never really done what people expected of me 🙂

The Nikon S01 is a 10.1 megapixel point and shoot digital camera introduced by Nikon in 2012.

Though I can’t confirm it, it is probably the smallest Nikon camera ever made, film or digital.

I first saw the S01 at Best Buy some years back and thought it was a cool novelty and nothing more. In fact, the first time I saw it, I just walked past it.

Maybe a year later, I saw it again and I was intrigued enough to pick it up. I thought it was cool, but at nearly $100, it was a pass for me.

Somehow I ended up with one in 2014 as a gift. Now that I like!

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“Toy Camera” 2014. The Pentax Q original shot by another “Mighty-Mini” the Nikon S01 🙂

As I said, I consider this camera a novelty so I’m not going in too deep with this one. It might be a “quick review” or “mini review” but not a full review. In fact, if anyone did a full review of this camera, I would say you’re nuttier that I am! 🙂

There are some cool features on it though, such as a touch screen, and some cool creative filters, but the S01 is pretty much an auto point and shoot digital with no manual controls.

The touch screen is something many of us have come to enjoy, after using smartphones and tablets all these years.

The good news is that it’s there on the S01. The bad news is that it’s clunky to use and not iPhone fast. Not the most refined touchscreen out there.

The camera comes with 7.3gb of built in flash memory and has no slot for SD card upgrades. It comes with no charger, only a USB cord to charge via your computer.

The picture quality is decent to good. Don’t expect too much out of it in that area. This camera is all about size and perhaps cuteness 🙂

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“Soft & Dreamy” 2015. Nikon S01 using the “SOFT” filter effect.

In fact, if you’re already walking around with a smartphone, which seems like 90 percent of the people out there, then the camera on your phone is probably better than the S01.

Again, you don’t get the S01 to use as your main or secondary or even your third camera. You get it if you love cameras, as I do, and if you get a good shot out of it, even better!

If seeking one for your collection, prices are trending at $25-75 on the used market. Nikon replaced this camera with the S02, which is technically a little bigger, but roughly the same small camera.

The Nikon S01 is cute, sweet, and fun. It may not be the greatest picture taker and it’s certainly not a Camera Legend, but it’s the smallest Nikon out there and I’m happy to have it in my collection 🙂

What Cameras Were You Using Ten Years Ago?

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The Nikon FM3a with MD-12 Motor Drive and 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor and a print from the combo. My dream kit in 2006 🙂

Hi good people. You might think with all these “extracurricular” postings that we have run out of cameras to review. Not by a long shot! But…

Just like we and Elvis “can’t go on together with suspicious minds,” I can’t go on with these long late night postings 🙂

As I’ve said before, it’s a labor of love, I get very little if anything financially from this site. Only the satisfaction that someone may have benefitted from the info posted here.

I’m not saying I’m stopping, just explaining why sometimes it takes a while before you see a new review.

But I’d like these pages to be seen as something more dynamic than your typical review site which is why I created series such as “The Best Camera I Never Knew” or the ever popular “Tuesday Titans” and now the random “Photo Of The Day” series.

With that said, today we take a look back at the cameras and lenses used back in 2006.


WHY 2006?

2006 was a very exciting year for me as far as cameras and lenses go. Digital cameras were really coming into their own. Cameras like the Nikon D1X, Canon EOS-1D Mark II, and Olympus E-1 ruled the day and indeed, the Nikon D1X and Olympus E-1 were my go-to cameras in 2006.

I got my first Canon L lens, the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS which I got off a poor college student on Craigslist. I sold this later to fund the purchase of an Epson R-D1, which was the world’s first digital rangefinder camera. While I don’t regret the R-D1, I did regret selling that Canon because subsequent copies I got were never as sharp as that first one!

I was also fascinated by the Sigma Foveon technology and had just acquired an SD-10, which was actually released in 2003.

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“Sinner” 2006. Sigma SD-10, Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8. A man known as “Samir Abu Charupa” contemplates on why he cannot give up his bad habits. The reason? He is a mere mortal, a sinner 🙂

I loved the files, but I was not so thrilled that to get the best out of the camera you had to use the Sigma X3F (RAW) files and the slow Sigma Pro software. Surprisingly, even today ten years later, Sigma has the same paradigm: Superb files, slow processing. It’s amazing actually that they have not been able to improve this to a level competitive with today’s cameras and this is indeed the reason I gave up on Sigma.

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Adapting lenses have taken off in recent years, in large part due to the popularity of mirrorless systems. I’ve been using adapted lenses for a long time. Here in 2006, was my Sigma SD-10 with an adapted Pentax 40mm f/2.8 Pentax-M manual focus pancake lens.

Ten years ago, I was (and still am) into film cameras. I was shooting a Bessa R3a, which I hated at first because I was getting soft focus until I fixed the rangefinder on it. I sold it off plus a few other items to buy a Nikon FM3a. I saw this camera as an investment too as it was Nikon’s last all manual classic camera. I also got a Nikon Fm2n with the 50mm f/1.2 AIS Nikkor for $90 total on Craigslist. Steal of a deal, deal of a lifetime! 🙂

For my point and shoot, I was shooting film with my trusty Konica Hexar AF which  I got in 1997. And in 2006, I got the Ricoh 8.1mp GRD which I have written a lot about. Both are my favorite point and shoots of all time.

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“Take My Picture” 2006. The joy of photography with the (then) new Ricoh GR Digital 8.1mp camera.

So, ten years ago, what did you shoot with and how did it affect your photography? Take a moment to think about that and if you’re not too shy, then feel free to post your results in the comments to share with others. Thanks and have a great week!

 

Celebrating Ten Years Of JuJu

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JuJu @ Six Months. 2006. Nikon D1X. Cannot remember the lens, it just shows as 300mm on the exif viewer. A straight jpeg from the D1X, no treatment done. Although it was only 5mps, I really loved the D1X!

No “Tuesday Titans” today. Instead, we are celebrating a “titan” of our personal world. He is the first kid of the new generation of our family. Today, we celebrate my nephew JuJu who just turned ten recently. He was, in a way, my first beta tester for so many of the cameras that came into my possession in the years following his birth. Thanks for joining me in the celebration and for my fellow gear heads, take comfort in the captions which will reveal some the cool cameras used during this ten year period. Happy Birthday JuJu!! 🙂

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“Boy From NYC” 2006. Bessa R3a, CV 40mm f/1.4 Nokton Classic, Kodak BW400CN. I had just fixed the rangefinder on this camera, it was the first rangefinder adjustment I’d ever done. Shortly thereafter, I sold this camera, but now looking at the results from this combo, I kinda regret it!

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“Order & Chaos” 2009. Olympus Pen FT, Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 Pancake lens, Kodak Tri-X 400 developed in T-Max developer. Two frames from the half frame Pen FT camera showing how order can turn into chaos in a minute 🙂

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“My Brother’s Keepers” 2014. Nikon D1X, 35mm f/2.4 MIR Russian lens.

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“Rockabilly Ju” 2013. Fuji X-Pro 1, Canon FD 55mm f/1.2 Aspherical lens. JuJu rocks around the clock! 🙂

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“Happy” 2014. Panasonic DMC-GF1, Lumix 20mm f/1.7 ASPH lens. Go ahead people, clap along if you feel like a room without a roof! 🙂

 

Breaking News: The Nikon D5 and D500

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The Nikon D3 of 2007. Nothing quite like shooting with a pro Nikon body.

Sure we love classic cameras here on Camera Legend, but we also love the latest and greatest. After all, some of these will become the Camera Legends of tomorrow.

And wow, they’re here…

The Nikon D5 is the newest flagship camera from Nikon. It features a 20.8mp FX (full-frame) sensor, a redesigned 153 point AF system, and features such niceties as 4K UHD (Ultra High Definition) video and (what?!) ISO 3,280,000!!

It’s nice to see Nikon keeping the megapixels at a comfortable 20.8mp, much like Canon did with their 18.1mp 1DX flagship camera. That’s more than enough megapixels for most purposes and is a good balance for all aspects of photography, especially for the press and sports pros to whom this camera will most likely cater to most.

You can see all the specs and pre-order the Nikon D5 HERE.

Also be sure to check out the Official Nikon D5 Video.

Perhaps even more exciting than the D5 is the surprising release of the new Nikon D500! This is the successor to the Nikon D300s that Nikon DX (APS-C) fans have been asking for, waiting for, begging for…for years!!

The Nikon D500 features an all new 20.9mp DX sensor, inherits the same 153 point AF system from the D5, as well as 4K UHD video, and other goodies.

It may seem strange, but even with such capable cameras as the D7000, D7100, and D7200, many hardcore Nikonians never considered these cameras the true successor to the Nikon D300/D300s.

For years, their pleas to Nikon seemed to have fallen on deaf ears, but apparently Nikon has been listening all along. They just took their sweet time with it 🙂

I think it all boils down to build quality and in a historical context it all dates back to the Nikon D100 of 2002. Then you had the D200 of 2005 which improved even further with superb build quaility.

I used the D300 when it came out in 2007 and I know why the D300/D300s “cult” feel this way. In fact, now that the D500 is out, I may start looking around for the old D300s 🙂

The fact that there was no successor to the D300s, till now, is probably what has kept the prices on these cameras high.

If you want to be one of the first to get your hands on the D500, you can pre-order it HERE.

Nikon flash lovers, the new Nikon SB500 Speedlight is also coming and you can pre-order it HERE.

This is very much like that day nearly nine years ago when Nikon released the D3 and D300. Exciting times for Nikon fans!!

Tuesday Titans: The Canon EOS-1 Pro Film Camera

 

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The Canon EOS-1 professional 35mm SLR of 1989. The EOS-1 is a titan with a tank like body, super speedy AF, and a futuristic design.  A true Camera Legend among 20th century cameras.

The Canon EOS-1 is 35mm SLR introduced by Canon in 1989 as the flagship camera of their (then) two year old EOS system.

Canon is no doubt one of the legendary names in the camera world. Despite non Canon fans (usually Nikon fans!) attempting to take jabs at Canon by saying things such as “Canon’s main business are its copiers and not cameras” or “Canon’s bodies are made of plastic and feels cheap” everyone that I know equates Canon to cameras first and foremost.

And the camera division is apparently a source of pride for the company. Even though, yes, they make way more selling copiers and other stuff to corporations, they do put a lot of that money back into creating awesome cameras that are often on the cutting edge of technology.

One of the greatest things about loving all cameras is that I’ve never been accused of being a fanboy, not that I know of anyway 🙂

Anyway, I’m rambling a little bit here, but the main point is that since the 1930’s Canon has had its share of legendary cameras. The Kwanon of 1934, the Canon II of the late 40s and early 50s, the Canon 7 and 7s rangefinders of the 60s, the A-1 and F-1 of the 70s, the T90 of 1986 just to name a few.

Canon is no stranger to making all kinds of cameras. However in 1987 Canon set out to do what many of their loyal customers thought to be the unthinkable; create a whole new series of lenses and cameras and letting go of their FD system which enjoyed a tremendous following and passion from professionals and enthusiasts alike. And with the introduction of the EOS-1 in 1989, Canon set out to create a new legend. Would their plan work?

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The Canon T90 of 1984 and the EOS-1D Mark II of 2004. The predecessor and successor of the EOS-1 respectively.

This was a very risky move. To take (in 1987) the nearly twenty year old, proven FD system and not only replace it with a whole new system, but also to convince their huge and loyal customer base that they should buy into the new system.

And the new EOS lens mount was NOT compatible with the FD system and vice versa. So in essence, Canon had to say…’Guess what guys? You can’t use all those lenses and accessories you’ve acquired for your A-1, AE-1, F-1, etc, etc if you buy the new EOS system’

As to be expected, it was a hard sell at first. From all I have read on this, many loyal FD fan were totally bummed, even angry at this move. They felt betrayed that their gear would now be “obsolete” and unusable on the new EOS system.

And you have to remember back then was not like today where you could use your legacy lenses on many different cameras with the right adapters. Adapters that allowed the use of one mount to a different mount were precious and few back then. I know of people who switched to Nikon because they were so outraged!

WISDOM OF FORESIGHT AND THE POWER OF TIME

Despite the initial outlash, now nearly thirty years later, I believe that time has proven Canon right in their decision to change from the FD mount to the all electric EOS mount.

With the EOS mount came cameras with super speedy autofocus, and such innovations as quiet USM “ultrasonic” motor lenses, cameras with electronically controlled wheels and dials, offering sophisticated levels of control customization. Many of these features we see on almost all serious DSLRs today. The EOS lens mount was also large enough to make way for some very unique L lenses such as the EF 50mm f/1L, the 85mm f/1.2L, and 200mm f/1.8L.

I believe Canon, as well as Nikon and other manufacturers saw the promise of the future with the runaway success of 1985’s Minolta Maxxam 7000, the first truly successful autofocus 35mm SLR.

Looking back, you have to give Canon, its camera designers and engineers credit for having the courage and foresight to create a whole new system that not only embraced the technology that was available then and but would also be able to take advantage of technology yet unseen in 1987.

THE EOS-1 FILM CAMERA

Two years after the introduction of the EOS system and the enthusiasts’ friendly EOS 650 camera, Canon decided the new system was successful enough to introduce their new pro flagship, the EOS-1 professional system camera.

The EOS-1 is a big brute of a camera and was very much reminiscent of the T90 of 1986 in its design.

However, being designed with professional photographers in mind, the EOS-1 was built to a much higher standard with an extra tough aluminum frame wrapped inside a polycarbonate plastic shell, and weather proofed with o rings, seals, and gaskets.

I remember in the mid 1990s reading an article on the Canon EOS-1 vs the Nikon F4s. I can’t recall if it was Modern Photography or Popular Photography magazine, but it was a great article on the pros and cons of both cameras, and included opinions from two professional photographers who used these cameras for their livelihood.

I also remember at that time, opinions and doubts about Canon’s use of polycarbonate materials on their pro bodies, especially from “heavy metal” camera lovers and pros.

Today, with the power of time, polycarbonate and other hard plastics have been proven to be as durable, if not more so, than the all metal bodied cameras of yore.

The EOS-1 is an all electronic camera and it operates on one 2CR5 battery. It will not operate without a battery. The electronics in the EOS-1 series of cameras have stood the test to time. The shutter speeds range from 30 secs to 1/8000th of a second and the camera can do a maximum of 5.5 frames per second with the optional Power Booster E-1. The viewfinder has 100 percent coverage. The camera had only one autofocus point which was cross-type and in the center of the frame.

USER EXPERIENCE

I got my first EOS-1 in the mid 90s. I still remember vividly the first time I held the camera. It was one of those magic moments on my camera journey!

I remember the sense of pride and amazement that I had in my possession this huge and powerful pro Canon in my home. Holding my first pro grade body ever was a feeling that, many many cameras later, comes very rarely today. It would take a lot to excite me these days 🙂

After I got over the initial excitement, I was quickly disappointed to find that the EOS-1’s AF, which was very fast and speedy outdoors and in good light, struggled and hunted in low or even moderately bright indoor lighting.

On top of that, the single central point AF did not have the red light indicator. That feature came with the EOS-1’s 1994 successor, the EOS-1n.

After a few months of use, I quickly sold the camera and moved up to the EOS-1n which was a much better camera in all aspects.

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“The One” 2012. Canon EOS-1, EF 50mm f/1.8 lens.

THE LEGACY AND LEGEND OF THE EOS-1

Despite my disappointment with the EOS-1, I eventually got another one when the prices became real cheap.

As with many other cameras, I can now appreciate its strengths while avoiding or trying to avoid its weaknesses.

Armed with a very strong selection of Canon EF lenses, the EOS-1 helped Canon to finally take over their rival Nikon in the 1990s as the professionals choice. It would take Nikon many years later to catch up and regain equal footing.

With the EOS-1 came many innovations such as dual input dials, wheels, and the use of polycarbonate and hard plastics on a professional grade body. All these features have made its way to many mid and high end cameras that came after the EOS-1.

The Canon EOS-1 is a true Camera Legend of the modern camera world. The EOS-1 is not only legendary, but has historical significance as the first pro body of the EOS line.

All the pro film EOS bodies that came after the EOS-1, including the 1n/1V/3 are all much better performers having taken all the best features of the EOS-1 and refining it to much higher levels, but if you want to experience that early EOS experience, warts and all, and want to pay the lowest price you can for a pro EOS film body, then the EOS-1 is a great choice, even if only to appreciate its design and/or to appreciate the technology of its day.

Note: The Tuesday Titans series was created to profile the huge “Big Guns” or monster sized cameras.

WHERE TO BUY

If shopping for an original EOS-1 film camera, prices are trending from $50-150 with an average under $100.

For a safe purchase with a good return policy, both Adorama in their USED section or Amazon periodically have the camera in stock.

IF YOU’RE JUST READING THIS AND PREFER MODERN CANON CAMERAS

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