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Photograph Sitting Hawk by Richard Keeling on 500px

Sitting Hawk by Richard Keeling on 500px

Most of my posts here are concerned with my artistic development – or lack of the same – and my love/hate relationship with the world of photography. I write them as a form of therapy and clarification.

Every once in a while though, I find myself focused onto something else. In this case, a piece of camera equipment. The Canon EOS 650.

The 650. Not the 650D. This is a film camera. The first, the very first, to use the EF mount and the EOS designation. Launched in 1987 and ‘an interesting historical piece‘ as noted by PhotoNotes.org which then goes on to dismiss it in terms of functionality to later EOS cameras.

True. Examine its specifications and they seem almost charmingly limited in terms of what had come since. A single focus point. A maximum shutter speed of 1/2000. No exposure bracketing. No E-TTL or, indeed, a built-in flash. Next to no controls, dials and buttons. No wired or wireless remote. No viewfinder exposure +/- scale. No adjustable diopter.

Yet despite all this, I really enjoy using this camera. The lack of features turns out to be freeing rather than restricting. It’s the very rare circumstance where I regret not having a particular option and even then most limitations can be worked around. Instead, I find the absence of clutter refreshing. It’s a layer of complexity and concern removed. Unlike today’s digital cameras, stuffed with menus and fancy features, where it’s so easy to get caught up in fretting about whether to use this or that when all the while all you really want to do is get the shot.

Using the EOS 650 is as close the zen-like experience I get from my Rolleiflex as I’m going to find in the Canon EOS series. There are a few even simpler EOS cameras out there – the 850 for example – but the lack of manual control in these SLRs puts them closer to point-and-shoot cameras than anything really useful. The 650 on the other hand always seems serious.

So I am often found carrying the EOS 650 with an EF lens of much more recent provenance such as the ubiquitous 24-105mm f/4L or the tiny 40mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens. All working together in perfect harmony and giving me precisely the right sort of photographic pleasure.

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