Canon EOS 650

Canon EOS 650
Canon EOS 650 front view

This is Canon’s first EOS camera (and not to be confused with the digital EOS 650D!) and came out in 1987. The numbering is misleading.  On subsequent models they used three digits for amateur cameras, two digits for serious amateur/professional cameras and one digit for professional cameras.  You could be misled into thinking this is a thoroughly amateur camera  –  my almost new digital camera is an EOS 650D (in this case definitely an amateur camera).  In fact, it is aimed at very serious amateur and professional photographers.  While Canon make good use of plastic, the camera chassis is metal – evidenced by its weight.  I also have EOS 5 (A2) and EOS 50e cameras

As a modern electrical camera, it will not work without a battery.  It takes a six volt 2CR5 battery.  The camera takes all EF lenses (but not EF-S as they are solely for crop-sensor digital cameras) and I am trying out the camera with Canon’s EF35-80 mm lens  This is an old lens and I suspect from very early on in the history of EF lenses.  It has an optically flat element sealing the rear of the lens so that the zoom mechanism cannot act as an air pump and pump air onto the film.  It is a pity that Canon abandoned this practise.
Canon EOS 650
Canon EOS 650 top view
There are few controls compared to a more modern camera.  No knob to select mode – in fact only five modes available (P, Tv, Av, M, and Depth).  In P mode the camera sets both shutter speed and aperture.  In other cameras (including this camera’s sister the EOS 620) the shutter speed/aperture combination can be altered by setting wheel, but not with this camera.  Tv, Av and M are as you would expect on a modern EOS camera with the camera setting the value you do not.  Depth mode effectively forces the camera to focus on the hyperfocal distance to maximise the depth of field.  There is also a full auto mode (designated by a green square).  This full auto mode is selected by the on/off knob while P, Tv, Av, M, and Depth are selected by the mode button and the setting wheel.  The only other control on the left of this camera is an exposure compensation button used in conjunction with the setting wheel.
The right of the viewfinder is dominated by the LCD display.  In front of this is they setting wheel and shutter release button.  Behind the LCD display is a button to alter the method of light metering.  Normally, this camera uses evaluative metering where it uses all of the field in the viewfinder.  Pressing this button restricts the metering to a central circle so that it almost becomes spot metering.
At first sight this is all the controls – absolutely miserly by modern standards – but there are further controls hidden behind a door below then hinged back.  These are not intended to be used very often so they are hidden away for safety.
The controls are: film rewind button for when you want to rewind the film before the end (it is automatic at the end of the roll), AF to change between the focussing method (one shot or servo), S-C to change between single shot and continuous shooting (at three frames per second).  This button also sets the ten second shutter delay.  The fourth button is to check the state of the battery.  If the second and third buttons are pressed simultaneously you can over-ride the DX ISO setting – useful for either pushing film or using Adox film which is not DX coded.
Canon EOS 650
EOS 650 – rear view
The viewfinder contains one autofocus point.  As this is intended to be an autofocus camera, the focus screen is plain – no microprisms, no split image circle in the centre.  Other focus screens were available as extras but not as standard.
Shutter speed and aperture are repeated in the viewfinder together with a focus lock indicator (a green circle).  The viewfinder also reminds you if you are in manual exposure mode or Depth mode.
Underneath the lens in the front are two more buttons.  Canon seem to have been keen to spread them around the camera.  These buttons are depth of field preview (which stops the aperture down) and a manual aperture button.  This last is used in manual mode in conjunction with the setting wheel to change the aperture.  It has no effect in other modes.

This is all the controls.  They are certainly sufficient – I, for one, do not miss the plethora of buttons that appeared later.  What I do miss is the ability to attach either a cable release or an electric version.  The EOS 650’s sister the EOS 620 has a jack socket for a remote release in the grip/battery cover.  As the 650 has contacts inside this grip/battery cover I suspect the 620’s grip could be used here.  There also seems to be no facility to use a remote release.  However, this was Canon’s very first EOS camera and Canon learnt to add both electric and remote releases to future models.

Loading film is easy, as it is with all modern film cameras.  Open the back, insert the film cassette in the left chamber, pull the film across the shutter to the orange mark and close the back.  When you turn the camera on – if it isn’t already – the camera automatically pulls the film leader onto the take-up spool and the camera is ready for frame 1.

The back is replaceable, Canon offering at least two alternative backs.  One simply printed the date and time on each negative.  The other back has an on-board computer that will record the date, time, frame number aperture and shutter speed in its memory.  These details can then be downloaded to a computer (I suspect you would need a 1980s computer to get the necessary interface).  The only evidence for these other backs with the standard back fitted is a row of  electrical contacts by the hinge.

I now have sample pictures available for this camera.  The one problem I have had is with the auto-focus.  I do not know if this was the lens (Canon EF 50mm f1.8 II) or the camera but the combination would not focus in sub-zero conditions – see the last picture.  It was fine above zero.  I have not used this lens in the cold before (we don’t get a lot freezing weather in Lincoln) so I don’t know how it would behave with another body.

Canon EOS 650


Canon EOS 650


Canon EOS 650


Canon EOS 650

Author: John Margetts

I am a keen photographer who also collects cameras. I am retired with about 50 years photography experience.

2 thoughts on “Canon EOS 650”

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