Canon 50D – A Little Historical Perspective


In honor of Canon’s 50 year SLR Anniversary!

1975 Canon TXI really get a kick out of reading all the reviews about the Canon EOS 50D, both the good and bad. Having been a Canon shooter for over 30 years, I find it amazing just how far the technology has come in such a short time. My very first 35mm camera was an Argus C-4 rangefinder which oddly enough, looked a great deal like the new Canon G-10. I cut my teeth on the Argus C-4 and must have run several hundred rolls of Kodak Pan-X, Plus-X and Tri-X through that camera before purchasing my first single lens reflex camera in 1975, the Canon TX.

The TX was a wonderful first SLR to learn on. All manual operation. Manual focus. Manual aperture control. Manual shutter speed (maximum was 1/500th). The TX was Canon’s first “prosumer” SLR camera and for its time was an excellent bargain. It came with an FD 50mm f/1.8 lens which was very sharp (if I can remember that far back).

1976 Canon F1NI had a lot of fun shooting with the TX but the bug had bitten me and it wasn’t long before I bought a used 1976 Canon F-1 body so that I could shoot with the big boys.  This was the ultimate in professional SLR cameras in the mid-1970s with a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second. Perfect for capturing indoor and outdoor sports. Unfortunately, this beast weighed almost 6 lbs with a zoom lens and motor drive. Compared to the TX, it was like hauling around a bowling ball. It was also my first “all black” camera, which (I hoped) said “professional” to all the other local sports photographers in Southeast Michigan.

2008 Canon EOS 50DNow compare this to what we have today in the new EOS 50D and its simply amazing just how far the state of the art has come.

  • 15.1 Megapixel CMOS Sensor for incredible resolution.
  • Supports UDMA-compliant digital film with almost unlimited capacity.
  • Auto Focus, Auto Exposure, Auto-Everything (if you want).
  • Shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second.
  • Compact, Light-weight, Durable.

When I read reviews questioning the viability of the EOS 50D I just shake my head. I’m taking shots with this camera I wouldn’t have dreamed of 30 years ago. My ongoing costs for film, developing and printing are virtually non-existent. I can crop the image significantly and still get great looking prints at 16″ x 24″, something I’d have never done with 35mm film in the old days.

As I like to say, “What a wonderful time to be a photographer“.

2 thoughts on “Canon 50D – A Little Historical Perspective

  1. “What a wonderful time to be a photographer”, I agree… but, I wonder if images, photography, art has developed too? I’m not so sure.

    I actually wish I had a EOS 50D (or a 40D… now I have 350D which feel a bit limiting), I would put my Yashica ML 50/1.4 or Auro-Takumar 85/1.8 lens on it 😉 Only new lens I want is a long tele, where I feel the old manual ones can’t compete.

    But I wouldn’t give up my old filmcameras either. Somehow I feel it is liberating with a simple, mechanical camera sometimes.

    • Mattias,

      I sometimes get the urge to run a few rolls of Fuji Velvia through my F-1 but honestly cameras like the 40D & 50D allow me to create much better images. Today’s AF systems are much more accurate than my aging eyesight could ever be when manually focusing. The image stabilization in today’s lenses allow me to hand hold or monopod mount a 300mm telephoto without worrying about camera shake ruining my bird photographs. RAW workflow in programs like Lightroom and Photoshop provides a degree of artistic freedom that I never experienced in the darkroom. Finally, the ongoing costs of working with film versus working with “digital” is just too high to seriously consider. So while my sense of nostalgia is tickled when I pick up my old film cameras, my art continues to grow and flourish with my digital cameras.

      Thanks for reading and for your comments!


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