My history with Canon EOS 1 Series 35mm cameras began with an EOS 1V, ages ago. I bought it, fell in love with it and then sold it. Later I bought an EOS 1N to augment an EOS 3 that I liked. I sold that quickly too, because the EOS 3 was fine on its own.
The EOS 1 was in production between 1989 and 1994. This means that the nice example in my camera bag is between 25 and 30 years old. It was the first of the pro-spec SLRs in Canon’s then new EOS range. The 1-Series DNA is immediately established. It has the hunched prism and the three-button control system that still adorn the current 1DX Mark II.
My forays with the 1V and 1N have been so close to my day to day use of 5D bodies that they felt very much like work. I tended to shoot them as if I’m were saving to a card rather than exposing film, shooting for someone else rather than myself.
My original justification for owning an EF Body was a decent collection of EF mount lenses. It made sense to have at least one 35mm body to use with them, hardly a heart-stirring desire.
I have a number of cameras in my menagerie, the EF mount has always felt like the poorer cousin of the other illustrious names included. The ’79 Canon F1, my Leica M4P, the Hasselblad 500 series all have claim to greater cache than an EF mount SLR. It does offer me something they do not.
In recent years I’ve been consumed by the idea of freeing my film practice. Neither my Leica or Hasselblad is naturally metered, and my Canon F1 has a meter, it just doesn’t work. After a couple of years of of winging it, of sunny-sixteening it, and of massively over-exposing Portra I’ve found that freer is not necessarily better.
I don’t want to go back to carrying a meter for the kind of in-the-park-with-family photography that I tend to use 35mm for. The EOS 1 meters beautifully, giving me the spontaneity and the fluid experience that I want from this kind of photography.
Having moved backward through the 1 Series production timeline to 1989 I’ve moved from 45 AF Points to one. Paired with a 50mm f/1.8 the EOS 1 is smaller and heavier than my canon EOS-3. The focus tracks my infant son (just about) and that single AF-Point always reminds me that I’m not at work, and that the film will run out.
The selection below were shot on Kodak ProImage 100 and Portra 400, and represent the kind of day-bag stuff this camera is going to be getting up to. I could have taken all of these photos with the more advanced EOS-3 (or even 5d Mk IV) bodies that also live in my house, but I didn’t.
I’ve been searching for a camera to take everywhere all of the time, questions of weight, practicality, quality of results have all raised their heads. For the moment it’s a Canon EOS 1.
I got my EOS 1 from London Camera Exchange in Worcester, it’s a shop I work in from time to time and it has an ever-evolving collection of film cameras and lenses which you can view here
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