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SCL Photo Podcast 35 - Canon EOS 50e and Film Responses

SCL PodcastToday I talk about my new, second-hand, Canon EOS 50e Film SLR, and also discuss the responses to the previous "Argument For Film" Podcast.

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Show notes:

Related Links:

My current black and white method.

Project 365.

Minolta X300s 1st roll of film (small selection).

Minolta SRT 101 2nd roll of film (small selection).

My Notes:

Feature: Canon EOS 50e

Canon 50e Online Instructions.

A couple of weeks ago I said that I'd just got a new 35mm film SLR from the car boot sale - a Canon EOS 50e with a 28-80mm f3,5 zoom lens. It cost me a little more than I usually pay, £40, but it did come with a bag, Cokin A filter holder, and a selection of Cokin filters. I also thought it was worth buying because the 28-80mm Autofocus EF lens is compatible with Canon digital backs - so if I'd be able to by a 300d, 350d, 20d, etc, dSLR back, without a lens, which are reasonably cheap on eBay.

But I thought it might be useful to run through the features of the 50e, just in case any listeners were interested in buying a 35mm Film SLR, and wanted something a little more advanced than the manual focus Minolta's I've talked about in the past. I've had a quick look on eBay, and you can pick up a used model, with lens, for about £60. Body only models are a lot cheaper for those of you out their with a Canon digital SLR and lenses, who fancy trying out film.

OK, the 50e is a prosumer grade camera - that is it's aimed at advanced amateurs, so it's got loads of bells and whistles. Head-line features are 2.5 frames per second shooting speed, with automatic wide-on. It's got a continuous focusing mode where it'll attempt to track moving subjects to keep them in focus. It's got average, spot and evaluative metering, a built in flash that uses through-the lens metering, all the shooting modes you could need from full-auto to manual, and it can also track you eye to decide which auto-focus point to use!

Few, if all that sounds a bit complicated, then I have to admit I was a bit intimidated when I first picked up the camera. The most advanced SLR I'd used up to this point was my manual focus Minolta X300s which boasted aperture priority mode only. The canon has four different dials and 6 buttons, and as I didn't get a manual with it, a quick search of the Internet was needed to find some comprehensive instructions.

So instead of trawling through each function, I'd rather talk about the features that have impressed me, and how similar some of these functions make the 50e to a digital camera, and how easy they make it to use the camera.

First up would be the auto-focus, which compared to my Fujifilm s5700, is blindingly fast. I have to admit I probably spend half an hour wandering around our house and garden, just pointing the camera at different things and chuckling to myself at how fast it locked onto focus. A quick check of the online manual, and I had calibrated to the eye-tracker. The 50 has three AF points - a centre, left and right - you can manually choose which one the camera uses, or turn on eye control and it will choose the AF point closest to the subject you're looking at. Magic!

The 50 also features three different AF modes - one shot, AI focus and AI servo. One-shot works as you'd expect, half press the shutter button and it locks on. In AI servo mode, half press the shutter and the camera focuses on the subject, but doesn't lock. If the subject, or the camera, moves, the camera will alter the focus, keep the subject sharp. In AI focus mode the camera acts like one-shot focus until it detects that the subject moves, then it starts to track it. For focus and recompose shooting, one-shot will probably be best, but for sport, wildlife or people, I guess AI servo could be really useful. If all this fails, say in low light, a switch on the lens returns it to manual focus. There's no split prism to help with manual focusing, but if you half-press the shutter it'll beep and light up the relevant AF point to tell you you've focused correctly.

As I mentioned before, the 50e has lots of shooting modes, including 4 scene position modes where the camera will choose the best settings for portraits, landscapes, macro or sports. It's got a full auto mode, which includes automatic flash as well. In auto mode, if there's not enough light, the cameras built in flash pops up, and it will meter the scene, adjusting the flash accordingly.

It's got aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual mode as you'd expect, but its also got a depth of field mode, where you focus on two subjects at different distances and the camera will work out the best aperture to get both in focus, and hopefully blur the rest.

We've got exposure compensation, easily dialed in with the wheel on the back of the camera, exposure bracketing, continuous shooting, mirror lock up and shutter delay timer. You can use an infra-red remote shutter release, separate the auto-focus lock from the exposure lock, and customise many of the settings, including storing different settings at the same time, say if you wanted sports and portrait settings.

Another cool feature is the infra-red frame counter - what you can do is ask the camera for the frame or sprocket you're on, then rewind the film, leaving the header out, so you can load a different film, then re-load the old film and get the camera to fast forward to the correct frame. There's the option to take multiple exposures on the same frame, adjust the flash compensation manually, and a wealth of other features that I haven't really got the time to go into.

So, as I've hopefully explained, the Eos 50e is an incredible film slr, with a wealth of features matched only be expensive dSLR's, so if you see one going cheap on ebay on down your local car boot, snap it up, you won't be sorry, Now I just need a 50mm f1.8 to go with it.....

Responses To The "Argument For Film"

(You can download the "Argument For Film" Podcast here).

Paul Korson:

I'm following the pod cast and have found it quite enjoyable. You asked for some comments on your argument for film and while I won't go into a large debacle for debates sake I would just like to through out the idea that film might not be as reasonable a backup solution as you made it sound.

Prints will differ depending on the type of paper as well as the quality that is invested in each process so depending on how you make your prints from film we could be guaranteed that the ink wont fade in say 45-200 years depending on the process. The reality is that many people will not go out and get a resign print or have their pictures made on archival paper so we really are looking at around perhaps a 75 year shelf life on most of what we get processed, this is more than sufficient for one persons life and perhaps that of their children but if we are in fact talking about making something last for generations we still have the issue of having something to last in its current form.

Even with my film I scan each image and make a digital copy onto my various places of storage because yes while a hard-rive can fail, the likelihood of all of my backup systems crashing at the same time would likely be a foretelling sign of the apocalypse :). I guess a few more mute points about this aspect of the argument for film is that people who shoot digital get prints too and you made it seem like we would always be able to read a negative and the funny part about this is that the technology for reading a negative and making a print will indeed be known but how likely will it still be available.

It makes me think about zip drives, who thought those were going to go away but indeed, I cant find a reader any more. I think the only way to make a picture last in any long form is to continuously update your files to the current standard to ensure the longest compatibility. By the way, not upset, just wanted to spark some discussion :)

Victor Walton:

I thought this was going to be the proverbial 'can of worms' tale, but you did well to point out the merits of both digital and film!

The advance of technology always moves on and thankfully in many cases yesterdays 'hot' technology becomes tomorrows bargains. As you've already pointed out this is true for even recent digital technology.

People are often happy to view images on DVD's, digital frames and computers but 'prints' are the new technological leap for digital and the mainstay of film. I've recently been playing with HP's black only printing methods and with a good carbon ink and acid free paper they'll last for 200 years plus. (Although 'real' time will only tell!) To be honest, they're hard to tell apart from a good print from 35mm on traditional 'wet' processes. So far they're completely waterproof too! As this technology moves on and becomes more affordable, perhaps some of us will be inclined to put together a traditional 'family album' and even frame some prints.

No wires, no gadgets and no magic required to simply open an album or point to a picture on the wall and say, "That's your Great-Grandfather and Mother there....."

With film we had no choice, a print was a natural progression. With digital we just need to make this choice.

(Matthew Clarks MP3 Response)

Great responses to my argument for film podcast, all great points and well made, and I hope this discussion has encouraged listeners who haven't tried film to do so, and perhaps some of those old film shooters to dust off their kit and fire off a few rolls....

Photo Assignment For February - "The Third Dimension"

Long Term Assignment - "Where I Live"

Technique challenges (No Time Limit):

No Sky Landscapes

Fill The Frame!

Dawn / Dusk shots

A Landscape Style Shot With Strong Foreground Interest

Remember to email me your photos if you'd like to me work on them for the Photo Workbench.

To contact me, just click on the link near the top of the page under the big picture.

Thanks for listening, see you on Flickr!

Join the Flickr Group!

Cheers, Rob.

Reader Comments (2)

I have to say i really like the look of the 50e,you got a good bargain there , i have had a look on ebay and they still going from between 40 and 60 pounds without a lens!
Sounds like a great camera and the sort of thing i might consider if i continue with film. .........Great podcast once again , although i still cringe when i hear my own voice !!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi Matthew,

Your mp3 comment was great, and your voice was fine - keep 'em coming!

Cheers, Rob.

March 4, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRob_Nunn

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