What is the Canon 650?
The Canon EOS 650 was the first camera produced in Canon’s EOS series. It featured an all-new mount, which saw the camera giant controversially step away from the old FD mount that had adorned all of its lenses pre-1987.
Like their main competitor, Nikon, Canon had a wide range of existing mechanical lenses.
Canon were second in the market, and so decided to gamble on an all-new lens mount that allowed their lenses and bodies to communicate electronically, and shifted focus and aperture control to be located in the lens. This meant depth-of-field previews and faster autofocus than you could achieve with a mechanical mount.
This camera was an almost entirely new piece of technology - supposedly the only element they share with older Canon bodies is the top LCD display. Echoes of the design of the Canon 650 can be seen throughout Canon’s DSLR range - the 650 and the 5D mkII look like siblings.
What this means for a modern user (especially someone that has used or owned a Canon body before) is that when you pick up a Canon 650, you get a familiar interface. Plus, the EF mount means you can use all of your modern Canon lenses with no adapter.
This was a major draw for me - I’ve vowed never to sell my Canon 5D mkII. It’s got too many pros for me to get rid of it:
The batteries last forever
I’ve got a wide selection of lenses
It looks professional
It’s got a big, bright optical viewfinder
Funnily enough, despite being made before I was born, the Canon 650 also ticks most of those boxes.
What’s it like to use?
With all of the above stated, it’ll come as no surprise that the camera will feel very familiar in operation to anyone who has used a Canon camera before. The screen on the top of the body shows you the number of frames you’ve exposed, and any relevant settings (this depends on which mode you’re in, as it does on a digital Canon DLSR body).
It’s a large body, but it’s quite light. You don’t get the reassuring heft of a DSLR, but it’s easy enough to hold for long periods and the grip feels nice in the hand.
One of the only things I don’t like about this body is the shutter sound. It’s not going to go unnoticed in a crowd, let’s put it that way. This is partly due to a noisy motor which advances the film for you after each shot, and rewinds the film back into the canister when you’ve finished the roll. Rewinding is particularly loud and not a particularly quick process.
I was pleasantly surprised with the autofocus abilities, though. So far I’ve had pretty good results using the centre focus point in decent light, although I’ve not shot much in low light as I tend to use 200 or 400 ISO film.
Price and availability
Here’s where things get good. If I’ve piqued your interest up to this point, then I have some great bits of news for you:
These cameras were manufactured in large quantities
They aren’t particularly fashionable these days
As a result of the above, they are still ridiculously cheap.
I picked mine up for £18 from eBay, and I’ve just bought an EOS 10 as a backup for £15. If you already own at least one Canon EF lens and you fancy shooting some film, I think it’s one of the best value purchases you can make.