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Having read a number of ‘reviews’ by my fellow Ciao members of Digital cameras – of varying quality – it got me thinking about a cheaper alternative. A Good old fashioned REAL Camera.
That is not meant to decry the fact that there are now many top quality Digital cameras with all kinds of super functions, but the bottom line is, the vast majority still cannot hold a candle to the image quality produced by even a medium range 35mm SLR.
Ah, I hear you shout “What the hell is an SLR?”
SLR = Single Lens Reflex – meaning basically that when you look through the camera viewfinder, you are looking through the lens itself. I know does not seem to be much of a big deal now that these new fangled Digital cameras have these odd pseudo camcorder viewfinders that you don’t need to hold up to your eye any more. Anyway, before I get way off topic...
...The Canon EOS 50 is one of a range of Cameras that top manufacturer Canon produced for the mass market. Look at any top sports meeting, celebrity bash or news event and all the Press snappers will be using either Canon or Nikon equipment – and I mean that’s not an ‘if or a maybe’ it will be one or the other. No other company is close – Professionals TRUST Canon and Nikon.
“But aren’t they really awkward things to use? It’s much easier to just take pictures with my little ‘Snapmatic camera’”
I remember thinking that myself many years ago – having been brought up in a family whose only camera in the house was a Kodak Brownie. OK So that dates me. Basically the advantage of buying a Single lens reflex camera is the fact you can use interchangeable lenses. But you do not need loads of accessories. Many SLRs come with a built in ‘top flash’ like a compact camera and if you invest in a short zoom lens like a 28-70mm and a reasonable Telephoto lens say a 70-210mm, then you will be covered for just about any photography you want to do.
Obviously, if you are a more advanced photographer you will need more advanced equipment, but I can safely say that the wide range of shoots I have to do can be done with one camera body – one flash – and the two lenses I mentioned above.
So why pick a Canon EOS 50?
Firstly, the price. When I read an opinion yesterday on this site about a Kodak Digital camera costing around £400 and it being ‘good for holiday photos’, I was quite dismayed. If you want ‘happy snappy holiday pics’ – don’t bother going digital. Just buy a Polaroid camera have some fun, laugh at the pictures and then put them in a drawer until you look again. For Pete’s sake don’t...I repeat DO NOT, Shell out £300 or £400 for a digital camera just as a supposed cheap way to take ‘throwaway’ photos. For that kind of money you could buy
an excellent quality 35mm SLR like the EOS 50 and within a few weeks of getting out and using it, you could really surprise yourself as to the quality of photos you could be taking. Whether it be Family photos, Pictures of your kids, Landcapes, Sport – you could be inspiring yourself, merely by holding in your hand something you may regard as a ‘Proper camera’.
Right, now onto some facts (About time, I hear you all cry) . The Canon EOS 50 is built to last. The body feels secure and solid and will fit neatly into your hands , whatever their size. As with all Canon equipment, it will survive pretty stern treatment. I had one a couple of years ago as a ‘cheap’ back up to my main Canon cameras and it was often tipped into my bag as a last thought. It had been out in the rain, in cold weather and in warmth. No problems – oh yes, it had been dropped a couple of times too…tut tut. I had picked it up from a reputable dealer as second hand and I’d recommend you try this avenue too.
Canon has long held a reputation as having the fastest Autofocus system around. Even though this model is not the newest in their range, you will find that it does really ‘ping’ into focus, whether you are using it in the ‘one shot’ (single focus) or ‘servo’ (continuous tracking) autofocus mode. What does that mean then for you – the user? It means that far from being a hugely complicated piece of equipment, you can use this camera very much as a ‘point and shoot’ camera, until you wish to maybe expand your creativity. Autofocus, allied to the various Auto Exposure modes which I will come to in a second, really do mean that all you have to do is pick up the camera, set the shooting mode to one of your choice, frame and compose your picture, press the shutter button and POW – You are a photographer.
“Ah yes, but I can do that with a digital camera …and more”.
Yes, that’s true, up to a point. The bottom line is – the media you are using for your photography. That hassle of finishing roll of film, waiting for it to be processed and then being sadly disappointed with results, does not happen with a Digital camera, because you can see the results instantly. But that was always the case with a Polaroid camera too – so why did we not all go and turn to the Polaroid system? Because, ultimately the QUALITY of the prints was just not good enough. I know that it is always said that you can go out, buy a digital camera and then see the results on your PC Screen, print out on your inkjet printer, to the size you require and it much quicker, easier and cheaper than all that film developing and stuff.
But whoa nelly, hold up. Let’s just count the cost up here – Camera, Printer etc and You still have consumables like photo Paper, Ink cartridges, Smart media card (digital film) batteries for the camera. Whereas the ‘expensive’ proper film based camera needs film (pretty inexpensive these days), batteries (AAs can be bought as rechargeables) Film processing costs (from £3 or £4 mail order and twice as much in a High Street one hour D&P shop) and time waiting for the photos (an hour if you are in a hurry!)
FEATURES OF THE EOS 50
The Canon EOS 50 caters for every type of users. From beginner or novice to far more advanced or creative camera users. It has FIVE Fully automated Shooting modes for the average user
~ Green Mode...fully automatic shooting, literally ‘point and shoot’
~ Portrait...Will select an ‘average’ depth of field’ and ‘average’ shutter speed – as your subject, I assume will not be moving, not will it be a long distance away
~ Landscape ...selects the best combination to give you a good ‘depth of field’ to your photo.
~ Close-up ...for more technical and advanced users.
~ Sports ...selects the fastest shutter speed available for you to ensure that your action photo is not blurred.
There are also FIVE Creative mode, basically very similar to those above, but of more use once you understand how each mode will affect your photograph.
~ Program ...ideal for novices
~ Shutter Priority...required for action of sports photohraphy
~ Aperture Priority ...when shutter speed is not important, or to give a depth of field.
~ Manual ...for more advanced users
~ Depth of Field AE ...perfect for landscape of building photography
Together with 11 other custom functions (most of which even the advanced user will never need), it can be adapted for nearly all sorts of users.
And there’s MORE...
You also have the following facilities available to you with this camera
1) Multiple Exposure 2) Exposure Bracketing 3) Depth of Field Preview 4) Date Imprint
But I’ll not go into too much technical detail – suffice to say you have everything you need to guide you from your earliest fumblings and bumblings, well into far more creative and advanced explorations in the wonderful world of photography. All of the above modes can be altered simply and quickly by using the Command Dial on the top of the camera, just where your finger will rest by the shutter release button – very simple.
~ FLASH This camera had a built-in retractable flash unit which will automatically pop up and fire when the light is low – similar to those found on most compact and APS Cameras. The flash is powerful enough for smaller indoor group shots and for outdoor ‘fill-in flash’ effects. There is no need to go out and buy another expensive accessory like a flashgun for your camera, but, for a much broader choice of flash effects, use the dedicated Canon Speedlite 380EX - specifically designed for use with these cameras
~ LENS Ah yes, this is the things than puts off most non-photographic type users.
“But if it’s got different lenses, how do I get them on and off the camera and anyway isn’t it too fiddly?”
Not really. Like I said, for 90% of any photos you will want to take, you really need no more than two lenses. Probably only one if you invest in a wider ranging zoom lens which these days can cover wide angle right through to telephoto. The Canon EOS 50 – in common will all Canon EOS SLR cameras – has what is known as an EF Lens Mount. Basically meaning that if you are shopping for a new lens (or second hand, of course) any independent maker of lenses or Canon which has the EF Lens fitting will be able to be used on your camera. Even, the latest Canon Digital SLR cameras the EOS D30 and the EOS D1. Independent manufacturers like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and many others have a whole range of budget and often excellent quality lenses which you can buy for your camera, if you feel the need to extend the boundaries of your new found photo ‘hobby’.
~ AUTOFOCUS SYSTEM Normal Autofocus systems you may be familiar with, will probably have just one single focus point in the centre of the frame – usually marked in the viewfinder. The EOS 50 has THREE focusing points giving a much wider focusing area. You can either let the camera select the ‘active point’ (the part of the frame where the subject is) automatically or set it manually.
~ OTHER FEATURES No need to worry about winding the film on – the Canon EOS 50, in common with pretty well all other cameras these days has Automatic wind-on and rewind. But for any of you wanting to turn your hand to action photos especially, the frame advance is 2.5 frames per second. Not quite what the Pros would term a ‘motordrive’, but certainly sufficient to maintain your eye on the subject whilst you continue to shoot the moving object.
~ SUMMARY The Canon EOS 50 is still available, both new and used. Pricewise you should expect to pay around the £400 mark new and maybe £300 or less, if it is bought secondhand (I’d suggest you look in a reputable photographic retail store, rather than in the ‘small ads’). It is exceptional value, very easy to use and certainly nowhere near as daunting a prospect to get to grips with as many of you might expect.
~ OTHER SPECIFICATIONS Metering System - TTL full-aperture metering: ·6-zone evaluative metering ·Partial metering (9.5%) ·Center-weighted average metering Filmspeed Range...ISO 25 - 5000 by DX/ISO 6 - 6400 manually Shutter Speed - 30 sec. - 1/4000 sec. + B Power Source - 1 x 2CR5 Lithium battery Dimensions - 152.5mm x 104.5mm x 71m (W x H x D) Weights (Body only) – 590g