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I purchased my 50e new several years ago with a Canon 28-80 zoom lens as a replacement for a fully manual Practica SLR.
One of the main selling points at the time was the eye controlled auto focus. This enables the camera to sense which of three focus points your eye is looking at and focus accordingly. The eye-control works extremely well and operates with the camera in the horizontal or vertical position. Once calibrated to your eye it is usually quicker than manually selecting a focus point.
A depth of field preview can also be activated using eye control by looking at a small square in the top left corner of the viewfinder. Fortunately this can be switched off by setting one of the camera's custom function settings as I found it quite irritating when looking around the viewfinder to have the lens suddenly stop down. Depth of Field preview is still available by pressing one of the thumb buttons on the back of the camera.
I've always used the camera with the optional BP50 grip which fits onto the bottom of the camera; it provides a vertical shutter button and improves the camera's handling - particularly with a larger lens attached. Itís not a small camera by any means with the BP50 attached and people with small hands might struggle a little.
As with most Canon SLRs the camera's main functions are controlled by two dials on its top plate. Here the camera is switched on, metering mode, AF mode and exposure program are selected. Two further dials fall under your right index finger and thumb when holding the camera. Everything falls readily to hand without any need to remove your eye from the viewfinder.
The viewfinder display of exposure & aperture is clear and bright.
Auto focus is fast and quiet, particularly when using one of Canon's Ultrasonic lenses.
I've found the camera's exposure metering to be accurate in a wide variety of situations as long as the usual care is taken to adjust exposure manually when a scene is such that it will fool any automatic metering. The lack of a spot metering mode is perhaps the feature I miss the most.
The only real problem I've had with the camera is that Iíve lost the rubber eyecup which surrounds the viewfinder; itís susceptible to falling off when the camera is carried by its strap (that might just be me though!). Also the receiver for the optional infra red remote is tucked between the lens mount and the grip which means there's only a quite narrow angle through which the remote will work.
The built in flash is of a fixed focal length and is not very powerful, because of this I've usually used a Canon Speedlight 380z flashgun with the camera.
The camera is well built, has survived plenty of knocks since Iíve had it and has never failed once in several hundred rolls of film.