EOS 5 (variant in USA ~A2e) - another historical Canon EOS camera

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. Since some people have encouraged me, I continue with another historical post on EOS cameras, in this case the model known in the USA as the A2e, but in a slightly different version overseas as the Canon EOS 5 camera.
    It was introduced in November 1992, and replaced in late 1998 by the Canon EOS 3 camera. This was designed as a "prosumer" camera, but was often used by professionals.

    What we are seeing here is the maturing of the EOS film cameras into essentially the same control and operating system used by the top end of digital EOS (two-wheel, top-LCD display, and viewfinder display).

    Its big innovation over earlier EOS cameras was eye-controlled focus-point selection. On this model, however, this only worked with the camera held in horizontal (landscape) orientation. One calibrates eye-control to your own eye. When I first got the camera, I calibrated it and found that the system worked pretty well. However, I confess that when shooting the test roll that provided the examples below, I just let the camera do the work, always watching the active points (there are only 5 anyhow). Actually I found the eye-controlled depth of field preview at least as useful as the focus selection when I tried it.

    The body is fiberglass reinforced thermoplastic with graphite fiber reinforcement to provide dimensional stability for the lens-to-film plane connections. OMG PLASTIC! Run, the sky is falling! Or at least that was one contemporary response to it. The camera is very light, as a result, although full sized in dimensions.

    A vertical grip (VG10) grip was available, but provided only vertical controls, not extra power, and did not allow the eye-control to work in the vertical position.

    I think that this may have been the second EOS camera (after the EOS 1 of Sept 89) to have the two control dials of the later higher end EOS cameras -- the main input dial next to the shutter release and the appearance of the "quick control dial" on the back of the camera.

    There is one difference that makes the EOS 5 a better buy than the A2e US model. Let Philip Greenspun's comments say it

    Someone has a U.S. patent, believe it or not, on the use of a digital scale to show under or over exposure in a metered-manual SLR. Canon didn't want to pay this patent holder and therefore turns off the -2/+2 (in half-stops) scale when in metered-manual mode. You get just an over or under indication but have no way of telling how much without dialing back to neutral and counting. The European/Japanese market EOS-5 is not crippled in this manner. (link)​

    The EOS 5 has the automatic film loading typical of the EOS cameras, except with a new twist. There are no sprockets, only a roller bar. Instead, this camera actually uses infrared light to count the sprockets as they go past. It is therefore impossible to use infrared film in the EOS 5!

    There is a documented problem with failures of the "command dial" (the one with P and Av and such on it), although mine works so far (DIY repair discussion at link or link).
  2. The picture of the back of the EOS 5 shows some of the buttons and bells.
    1 is the eye-control button.
    2 is of course the "quick control dial" so familiar to modern digital EOS cameras of the xxD and up system.
    3 is only on the "Quartz Date" cameras and is the selection point for use and which format is desired. The select and set buttons are for resetting the calendar and time.
    4 are the "control buttons":

    DRIVE is the Film Winding Mode button to choose single exposure, continuous, and so on.

    AF is the AF Mode button - select one-shot AF or AI Servo, just as on later EOS cameras.

    the "eye in a rectangle: button is the Metering Mode button, choosing evaluative, spot, or center-weighted metering

    The bottom button {marked ISO, etc.] is the Function button which selects different functions like manually setting ISO, etc. using the "main dial (next to the release) to make the actual setting. AEB is "Automatic Exposure Bracketing".

    All of these are displayed on the LCD screen on top of the camera, just like a modern digital camera. Many of the data are also displayed in the LED display visible in the viewfinder.

  3. The top is the Giant City Park lodge built in the 1930s at a local state park by the Civilian Conservation Corps (Roosevelt Era put-people-to-work program)

    The second shot is of the individual cabins rented out to visitors (rebuilt in the original form as modern cabins on the inside).

    The bottom picture is the Metcalf (I think it was) family reunion at the park on Saturday afternoon playing at three-legged races and the like.
  4. The left picture is one of the many bluffs and cliffs in the park in the unglaciated uplands. The forest is fairly wild, but with the standard CCC trails, steps and all.
    On the right, is a stream through one of the park canyons showing typical CCC stone work. The more 'domesticated' areas are favorites for picnics and reunions.

  5. The left is a statue commemorating the Civilian Conservation Corps workers who developed the park. The text below the statue says "The C.C.C. Worker--Dedicated to the young men who served in the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1942 in Southern Illinois. Their work developed and preserved natural resources for future generations." CCC Chapter 102.
    The picture on the left is an observation platform that doubles as a water tower, or vice versa.
    I had written up way too much about this so cut it back severely. Anyone who wants the full treatment can dowload this pdf file with somewhat more discussion (xx k)
  6. David's book

    A sort of side bar to this is that looking for a paper "manual" to pack with the camera (lots of controls and custom functions, after all, just like the EOS digital cameras), I eBought a Hove Press 1993 Complete Canon User's Guide: EOS 5, A2e, A2, by Steve Bavister. Inside the front cover was a rather touching inscription, shown below. I don't know if David ever got his A2e, but I also found that he didn't pay much for the gamble of buying the book. The original sales slip was also inside the book showing that on that day (6/17/94) David paid only $1.00 (no tax) for the volume. I don't know how this obviously British edition got to Anchorage, AK within a year of publication and selling for only a dollar, but there you have it. If David is out there, finish the story for us.
  7. On this website, there is also a review/discussion of this camera as it was when it was new (link).
    The film was my first try at Kodak Ektra 100.
    That's all folks
  8. Ektar, not Ektra.
  9. Very well done. I enjoyed reading it. I would like to mention that Stewart's Photo remains in operation in Anchorage. I stop there whenever I am in the big city and buy something when I can, there are so few independent retailers anymore.
  10. What we are seeing here is the maturing of the EOS film cameras into essentially the same control and operating system used by the top end of digital EOS (two-wheel, top-LCD display, and viewfinder display).​
    Actually the "two-wheel, top-LCD display, and viewfinder display" was introduced with the EOS 1. The the 1991 Elan (EOS 100) was the first consumer camera with such controls. The EOS 5 merely copied the basic layout without change.
  11. Thanks for posting, this was my first reflex, back in 1996, with a 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 that came with the kit. I haven't used the camera since many years, but that old lens is still handy sometimes
  12. Actually, the earlier use of the system on the EOS 1 is spelled out in the lengthier version in the pdf, but inadvertently was left out here. I'm afraid I was unaware that the Elan had used it as well. I would still include the 5 in the "maturing" (not "born in").
  13. Love this camera. Borrowed from a relative and have had it for a few months now. Mine is just the A2 not the A2e, but it picks up the correct focus point quickly anyway. Very light, I just finished a roll of Ektar 100 as well, I'll post some of my results to add to the post when I get them back.
  14. I had an EOS 5 —great camera.
  15. I used an EOS A2 for over 10 years (!), albeit running through 2 of them. Beat the crap out of those plastic fantastic boxes and they rarely flinched. They did flex a lot both in hand and on the ground! Bounce well too. I also managed to eat up a few command dials. My old review:
  16. Nice writeup. Even longer than my pdf. If I had found it, I would have linked to it for sure.
    Even as I write, two more Canon EOS historical cameras are winging their way to me -- A Canon EOS 10s and (ta'da') a Canon EOS 3. So the 'series' will definitely have at least a couple of more entries.
    I'm trying to get a nice EOS 1 (not the n or later versions) but people keep having the bad taste to bid higher than I.
  17. Awesome write-up, JDM. The A2 was the camera that really got me hooked on photography. Mine traveled everywhere with me, including a 3-week trip to Indonesia in the mid-90s. I finally wore out the shutter on mine after 6 years and hundreds and hundreds of rolls of film, but still got it fixed even though I replaced it with a 1vHS. I sold mine a couple of years ago and felt horrible after doing so, but I recently got another in mint condition, complete with VG-10 grip and 430EZ Speedlite. What a great camera! It's definitely one of my all-time favorites and still feels good to use today. Thanks for this post. I love these historical posts and really look forward to them.
  18. Thanks, all.
  19. JDM,
    I enjoyed your writeup on the EOS 5. I never owned one over the years, but you filled in the blanks pretty well. Thanks. I still have a couple of EOS 1 bodies (one is a parts mule, as bits tend to fall off of the EOS 1 every now and then (after 20+ years of hard time), but I would like to read your take on the "1" in the future. As a side note, KEH currently offers three of them ranging from $79-$144.
    You mentioned that you have a 3, and a 10s on the way. That's great! The 3 has been covered pretty much everywhere, and it's a popular camera, but the 1990 vintage 10s is a bit of an oddball camera, and not very well known compared to other EOS models of similar vintage. Then again, the 10s actually delivers reliable performance, and currently ranges from about $9 for a well used good example to a high of only $45 for a super clean example. I'm eager to read your detailed take on the 10s after you get some shutter time with it, and we can compare notes about it's "personality" later on.
    I rarely write about the 10s at all when someone asks about EOS film camera options, and I often forget that I still have one, but it always has fresh film, and a fresh battery loaded, and it is often used as a loaner camera in local workshops. How can I forget about a camera that I handle so frequently? It must be a 10s thing...... Anyway, I look forward to your take on the old 10s!
  20. I confess that I largely bought the 10s because it had the hard-to-find 35-80mm PZ lens with it (the "normal lens sold with the EOS 700 I earlier wrote about). The combined price was a little less than for the lens alone, so how could I resist?.
    I did actually get a Canon EOS 1, finally. I hope it's on the way as we write. I paid a fair, but not bargain price for it. That may complete my personal take on EOS history, but I have found with my Prakticas that there is always a certain amount of mopping up to do. I am not, thank heavens, a completionist, and I do enjoy shooting with them so much.
    Finally, I did get the vertical grip for the EOS 5. I'll reserve judgment on it until I actually shoot some more with the camera, but it does make for an imposing camera.
  21. Thanks to you all for contributing to the EOS 5 subject. It brought back lots of memories. My EOS 5 (the last of my film cameras) is stored in my photo closet along with three other film cameras from the past. My wife and I, have moved on to digital and I still use my oldest digital the EOS 20D with my longer telephoto's - 500mm.
  22. That was also my first AF camera, I think it was 1996.
    Used it until given to a relative so I had a reason to buy the EOS 3.
  23. One additional point - the 5 wasn't actually replaced by the 3, it continued in the Canon range until 2001, which by my reckoning makes it the AF SLR with the longest on-sale time. I used it for quite some time as my main camera, and it still gets sporadic use today.
    The 10 was a very, very interesting camera, with a lot of unique points - first EOS with multiple focus points (a massive 3!), the only EOS to feature both DEP and A-DEP modes, a camera shake mode that detected actual shake, didn't just apply the 1/focal length rule, a built-in intervalometer, the silly barcode programming option (also on the 100/Elan), and in the case of the QD version, printing from the body side, rather than the back. As a result, there's no cut-out on the pressure plate, so the camera is safe for IR film. Whereas the 5 is monstrously large, the 10 is sensibly compact and feels a lot more solid.
  24. Maybe the 5(A2e) was not actually "replaced" by the 3 in marketing, but clearly the 3 was the "replacement" for it in terms of the design lineup. NTIM.
    The record for longest marketing, though, I think has to go to the EOS 1v which went on sale in March 2000 and is still going today (link) so far as I can determine. To date, that is just a little longer than the dates Nick gives for the 5(2Ae).
    Later this week, I'll be posting a similar report on the EOS 1, and then by next week or so, a report on the EOS 10s - as Nick says, it's really rather overlooked in "histories" of significant models in the EOS line up - the focus points being especially important.
  25. Good point about the 1V - I had rather forgotten it's still regarded as current.
    I look forward to the 10(s) report in particular, as it's such an odd camera - that I like a lot. ;)

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