Canon SLR Museum 1970-2000

Started Jan 13, 2011 | Discussions thread
OP Steve H Senior Member • Posts: 2,648
Canon SLR Museum 1970-2000 part II

Part II


While the fully automatic T50 was aimed at the novice, the T70 was more upmarket and gave the photographer a lot more control over the camera's operation while keeping with the T-series philosophy of simplicity in control and operation. It offered eight different shooting modes (but no aperture priority) along with automatic film advance and rewind. It's also the first Canon SLR to use the now familiar top deck LCD display and up/down buttons rather than a dial to change shutter speed. About $500 in 1984 ($1300 today).


A radical new design by Canon and German industrial designer Luigi Colani, the T90 represented a total re-think of how a 35mm SLR should look and work. Years ahead of anything else available at the time, its versatility, ergonomic design and internal complexity (it used two on-board computers and three drive motors) were all intended to do one thing - allow the user to take better photos with less effort. With the constraints imposed by the mechanical workings of 1970's cameras now gone, designers started over and designed a camera that was easy to control and hold with controls placed in a way that suited the user rather than the dictates of a no longer needed mechanical design. Multiple metering modes, 5 fps continuous shooting and eight exposure modes including variable shift Program AE using the now familiar "command dial" rounded out the list of features. Although not intended as such, it's arguable that the T90 overtook the F1-N as Canon's top of the line professional body. An expensive camera, it cost around $1500 in 1986 ($3300 today).

EOS 630

Just as the mid 1970's brought electronics and automated exposure to SLR photography, the mid 1980's were a battleground on a new front - autofocus. Various systems were tried by different manufacturers (some in-camera, some in-lens) and most settled on a system which, despite its mechanical limitations, ensured backward compatibility with previous lenses and bodies. As with the T90 approach however, Canon started from scratch and abandoned its mechanical FD lens mount in favour of an entirely new and fully electronic EF mount and lenses optimised for AF. The EOS (electro-optical) system was born in 1987 and is still with us today. The most advanced of the early EOS 600 series, the 630 cost around $1200 in 1989 ($2100 today.)


Throughout the first five years of EOS, Canon progressively refined their new AF system and introduced several new models including a new professional body, the EOS-1. In 1992 another first was announced - the introduction of eye-controlled focusing on the EOS 5. The new camera incorporated five separate focus points across the screen and to select which point the camera should focus on, the user simply had to look at that point. Looking at a further point in the top left corner of the viewfinder activated a depth of field preview for a few seconds. Other features included a built in flash with a zooming head, 16-zone evaluative metering and 5fps film transport. It cost $1800 in 1992 ($2800 today)


The EOS-1N replaced the earlier EOS-1 as Canon's flagship SLR. It sported five autofocus points spread across the frame instead of its predecessor's single centrally-mounted autofocus point, more effective weather sealing, a wider exposure range and numerous other improvements. Three variants were available - the standard body-only EOS-1N, the EOS-1N DP shown here which incorporated a battery grip housing 4AA batteries instead of the standard 6V lithium battery, and the EOS-1N HS with a power drive booster attached enabling 6fps shooting. An expensive, professional body, it cost $3100 in 1994 ($4700 today)


Originally released as a replacement for the EOS 5, this camera actually has more in common with the EOS-1 series. It incorporates the advanced 45-point AF system used on subsequent 1-series bodies (up to and including the 1D MkIV) and it also includes a more refined eye-controlled focusing system which works on all 45 AF points. In keeping with its common heritage, most 1-series accessories such as power-drive boosters and battery packs also fit. Like the 1-series, there is no built-in flash. A big, heavy camera, it cost around $2500 in 1998 ($3500 today)


A partnership with Kodak from the mid 1990's produced a range of Canon EOS-1N bodies grafted on to Kodak digital backs but the D30 was Canon's first "in-house" digital SLR, pre-dating the first EOS-1D by a few months. It uses a 3.1 megapixel 1.6 crop CMOS sensor, 3-point AF and 3 fps shooting in either RAW or JPEG. Interestingly, the supplied 16MB CF card (the biggest available at the time) could hold only about a dozen shots. A much better (if more expensive) alternative was a 340MB or 500MB IBM Microdrive - a tiny encapsulated hard disk which fitted into the camera’s standard CF slot.

So there you have it - 30 years of Canon SLRs.
Steve H

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