A Review of the Canon EOS 650


Chunky, clunky, but really quite funky. I have lots to thank Lomography for – but letting me rediscover my analogue soul is top of the list. Through Dianas and other toy cameras, I reconnected with the joy of film photography once more.

Image by Thomas Streiner from Wikimedia Commons

But where does the non-digital photographer progress after toy cameras?

Once I realized that 35 mm film rather than120 film medium format was my thing, I dabbled with many models. I had great fun using Lomo-friendly cameras like the Olympus Trip and the Smena Symbol, but I also got loads of unusable photos too from the limits of using point and shoots. Every pack of processed snaps from a 36 exposure film I got back would maybe have 10 usable shots – other pics had nearly everything going for them – composition, color, exposure – but fuzziness caused by the lack of accurate focusing prevented some ok photos from becoming truly great ones – they were like stillborn children! If I was an eccentric millionaire, I wouldn’t care, but the budget-conscious Lomographer has to be wary of such things!

So I knew I needed a good quality analogue SLR. I originally learned my photographic chops at art school many years back on an Olympus OM10 from the early 80s. I took some truly fine photos on this cheap secondhand camera but wanted something else this time around. Maybe there was a later model from that decade that would give me more options and better pictures? I adore street photography, so a zoom lens was also compulsory for getting closer to my subjects.

Then on eBay, I chanced across the Canon EOS 650.

Not knowing much about this range, I thought “Hmm… Canon – classic make. Manufactured in 1987 – much later after my OM10 – bound to be a better camera!” At exactly the same time I discovered a Flickr site devoted to this model showing some wonderful photographs taken on it. Its very low sale price and the fact it came with a tasty 35-80 zoom lens made buying it a no-brainer purchase for me. So I looked into its history. The 650 from 1987 was the very first model in the EOS range that’s with us today due to Canon’s current range of digital cameras still sharing the brand name.

But I had no idea how heavy it would be! All those cranky old motors in its body that were once hi-tech made it really heavy to handle – I always thought Zenit cameras were heavy to hold, but they feel like cradling a new-born kitten in comparison! And forget about casually hanging this baby around your neck by the camera strap – unless you don’t mind walking around bent over double like Quasimodo. But when did the keen Lomographer worry about something like a camera’s weight?

I tried out every kind of film on this camera – expired color film, black and white, cross-processed slide negative, and it never let me down. Look at my photos – in 20 years of photography, these are by far some of the best I’ve ever taken. The auto-focus is a pain. Unless your subject is right in the center of your shot, it can be tricky focusing correctly quickly for street shots, so I nearly always switch to manual instead.

So if you want a cheap quality 35 mm SLR, you could do a lot worse than buying any of the EOS range. I was so impressed with my 650 I upgraded and bought the advanced later EOS 1000n model from 1993. It’s so much lighter and has cool additional features like multi-exposure and has now become my main camera – but that’s a story for another review.

This article was written by Community member droogieboy.

written by droogieboy on 2011-03-26 #gear #review #analogue #slr #lomography #canon-eos #film-camera #user-review


  1. pim_g
    pim_g ·

    Nice photos!

  2. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    cool review and very very nice photos!

  3. anarollemberg
    anarollemberg ·

    Great photos!

  4. life_on_mars
    life_on_mars ·

    great street photo !

  5. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    great pictures!!

  6. nicolas_noir
    nicolas_noir ·

    Great photos! What lens are you using? The EF 50mm f1.8? Lovely depth of field in some of them!

    I'm borrowing my mother in law's Eos 1000FN and it has a soft focus mode, where it takes a double exposure with one of the photos slightly out of focus. However the metering is completely shot :-(

    Also I think I've got a shot of that D as well, is it near Spitafields Market?

  7. j_rad
    j_rad ·

    Great images!

  8. droogieboy
    droogieboy ·

    thank you lovely people for your kind comments!

    @ nicolas-noir
    Hey nicolas. The lens on this camera is a Sigma 35-80mm zoom that I got in a cheap Ebay deal. I was a bit disappointed when this camera didn't come with an original Canon lens, but the Sigma surprised me with it's reasonable sharpness. By the way - you're correct. That Big D sign is by Old Street Station, and quite near Clerkenwell and Shoreditch

  9. wesfraser
    wesfraser ·

    I totally agree, the 650 is excellent! Heavy, chunky and not the fanciest of beasts admittedly, but it does a damn good job! Nice shots.

  10. fash_on
    fash_on ·

    I used to have this one but the lens it came with (as pictured) was not great, your sigma photos look much better :))

  11. droogieboy
    droogieboy ·

    thanks guys! :)

  12. rusty1024
    rusty1024 ·

    Good article outlining why it's better to move to a decent camera like the Canon EOS 650 or its Pro twin the 620. However I disagree the autofocus is poor. The fact that it's dead center focus is good, because once you focus simply keep your finger on the shutter button and move the camera slightly to avoid a static central composition. Exposure info will stay locked in. Being the first EOS model these bodies are surprisingly rugged-which is why they are heavier than later cheaper Canon 35mm bodies.

  13. lomofan99
    lomofan99 ·

    Awesome photo's! Where was the photo with the wall that says ''Is it always like this''. Pretty moving image. Would love to see it, cheers!

  14. droogieboy
    droogieboy ·

    Thanks Lomofan99. That street art was on a wall near where I used to live off the Old Kent Road. I couldn't find it on Google Maps as it was in a tiny road in a housing estate, but I think the place was called Winnow Walk

  15. carblkm5
    carblkm5 ·

    Great photos!!! I have the EOS 630. Great camera!

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