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Nick's Classic Corner - No 34 - Canon EOS 100

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Nov 11, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I'm sure many purists will be aghast that I'm covering AF cameras in a so-called classics piece, but I'm entirely unapolagetic - this camera has particular significance for me, but it's also possibly the most influential AF camera of all time.

    The EOS system was introduced in 1987, and it was immediately clear that Canon had learned from their earlier mistakes - the first cameras were competent and fairly fully featured - the odd thing was how little difference there was between the EOS 650, 620 and 600 - only relatively minor differences. The 600 was the first Canon model at this level to feature predictive AF in servo mode. It was a decent camera - AF performance a touch behind the then class-eading Minoltas, but well clear of the likes of Nikon, Pentax and Yahica. In 1991, though, it was replaced by the EOS 100.

    In some ways, the 600 was a more upmarket camera - 5fps motor and ridiculously complex programmable back availability, for example, but the 100 was a clearly better camera in many areas. Firstly, it was very, very quiet - far quieter than any other AF SLR of the time, and only Canon's EOS 30 models can compare. There was a lot of technology put in to reduce the noise, and it worked. That it was often sold as a kit with a 28-80mm USM lens helped a lot - it was asonishingly quiet. And that's what sold it to me - the silence, and the AF ability - the other main new feature was that the single AF sensor was a cross type, which locked on to far more subjects. Having (reluctantly) decided that AF wa for me, the EOS was so very clearly quicker and quieter than the competition. But what finally sold it to me was the reason I consider it the most influential AF SLR of all - the control layout. For this was the first SLR to adopt a mode dial, and two input dials, one on the front, one on the back. Over 20 years later, Canon are still using this approach for their cameras at this level, and so are many competitors. At the time, it was revolutionary. Manufacturers had realised that traditional control layouts struggled with the amount of data they now had to deal with, and had tried out multiple approaches featuring buttons and sliders throughout the 80s, but this was the first system that felt natural to me. To be able to hold the camera in one hand, focus, change aperture and shutter speed all at the same time was astonishing. Along with the speed, accuracy and silence of focusing. So I was decided - this was the camera and lens for me.

    The mode dial includes the essential M, Av, Tv and P modes, adds some PIC modes, a barcode mode, DEP mode, and allows setting of film speed, multiple exposures, auto-exposure bracketing, and custom functions. There are two buttons next to it - one to activate the pop-up flash and set redeye reduction, the other for flash exposure compensation and metering pattern (evaluative, centre-weoghted or partial) in conjunction with the front or rear dial. The hotshoe has 4 extra contacts for Canon's A-TTL off-the-film flash system. On the other side are a drive button (single/continuous/self-timer) and AF button (one shot/servo). There's the main imput dial just behind the shutter button - and what do you know, looks like Praktica were right, an angled shutter button does reduce camera shake! There's also a fairly large LCD showing shooting info.

    The back of the camera has an AEL button (that can be programmed as a DOF preview button with a custom function), the rear dial and lock, to prevent it being adjusted accidentally, and a window to see what film is loaded.

    The front has an IR receptor for the RC-1 remote control - the only remote control facility available. There's also the lens release button.
    The ledt side has just the back release. The RHS has a recessed mid-roll rewind button, and a receptor for the barcode programmer - an optional extra, which allowed you to tailor the camera settings in line with a picture book with barcodes.

    The screen has a cross marked for the AF mark - this does not illuminate. Around it is a circle indicating the limit of partial metering.
    Underneath is a green LCD panel showing shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, a camera shake warning (based on the 1/focal length rule of thumb), flash ready and a focus confirm light. The camera would beep when focus was achieved, although this can be turned off.

    Shutter speed range was 30s to 1/4000, and it glided along at 3fps. Power was from a 2CR5 in the grip. Other CFs include mirror lock-up.

    In this day and age, it's a fairly basic spec, but this camera went everywhere and did everything with me. Deserts, rainforests, mountains; it's been dropped, bashed, soaked and otherwise abused, and still keeps going. My wife also has one, and hers did require a repair - after being bounced at speed on a stone bridge, doing half a dozen cartwheels over 10m or so, it needed a repair to the mode dial. But for plastic cameras, these are very, very tough - certainly more so than they look. Its basic control layout is pretty much identical to the camera I use today - it's stood the test of time. It goes right up there with the Rolleiflex as one of my favourite camera.
  2. PentaxManiac

    PentaxManiac Well-Known Member

    Not even the first Canon EOS SLR to do so, surely? EOS10 in early 1990, EOS1000 later in 1990? There were also the EOS 700 and EOS 750 with mode dials, although not with input by other dials in addition.
  3. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    No. The 10 and 1000 have no rear dial - only the 1 did, but that retains buttona like the T90 and EOS 6xx models instead of a mode dial. The 100 was indeed the first camers with this combination.

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