Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Score From the Classifieds

My Canon EOS 55 / EOS Elan II

This set of goodies came from the same man I bought the Rolleifllex from. The main catch for me was the lens - a very desirable EF 28-105 USM II that goes from f3.5 - 4.5, introduced by Canon over 12 years ago. It is a lens that was a mid-high range option for EF film cameras, yet has features found on their costly good glass today - Ultrasonic Motor, fairly fast, manual focus over-ride (meaning that even when you have the AF switch on, you can still turn the focus ring if you don't like the camera's Auto-Focus decision). It's also much smaller and lighter than many of today's lenses - a lot to do with Image Stabilization being un-invented in the year 2000 - a feature that adds quite a few ounces. Anyway, $100 got me this lens, with what I thought was a rather weird Canon film SLR attached. Weird, that is, until I started gathering some info about it.

The camera is marked "EOS 55". I had to do some digging to find out that it was only available for the Japanese market, and in North America, it was marketed as the Elan IIe. Canon has maintained a remarkable relationship in the marketing of it's film SLRs in comparison to the new line of DSLR's. It turns out their top prosumer film camera of the day was the EOS 5, and today you get the EOS 5D. At the budget end, there was the "Rebel" line-up, with similar naming / numbering as the Digital Rebels on the shelves now. The "Elan" series fit right in between - only sold as Elan's in North America, they were marketed as EOS XX" (two digits) like the EOS 50D  is now. This one was actually an EOS 50, everywhere in the world except North America (Elan IIe) and Japan - the EOS 55. What's more, this rare Japanese model was sold in all black, not black and silver, and has a feature that nobody else got - a "Panorama" switch on the back. 

All models were loaded with features - a time / date back cover, fully motorized film load, transport / rewind, two command dials, including a nice big one on the back, and pretty much all of the shooting features found on today's Canon DSLR's, except they're controlled by nice big dials and switches on the top, instead of menu - buttons; like, see the big rotary switch that is labelled "One Shot", "AI Focus" and "AI Servo" - sound familiar, all you Canon DSLR users??? Very nice indeed. Another feature we long for on our DSLR's is the big LED focus assist light on the front - why doesn't Canon give us this now, instead of the very annoying flash - bursts? And one more - this camera actually has a system called "Eye Control"  by which your Auto-Focus point is selected by whatever your eye is looking at through the viewfinder.

I shot with this camera, as well as the Rolleiflex all day today, and must say, after a few years of owning various Canon DSLR's, this one felt very familiar to me. I even had occasion to try that exclusive Japan only "Panorama" mode. And, as it is with any film camera- 

"I can't wait to see the results next week"!

I'll have more musings about film cameras tomorrow - I think I might be starting to dig it!

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