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Canon EOS 50E 9/10

Just like Nikon, Canon have an outstanding reputation for producing good quality cameras. This EOS 50E was originally released in the mid 1990s and is still being made. It is near the top of Canon's range of SLR cameras. At the time of launch, this camera cost nearly £600, but the price has now dropped to under £500 (about the same price as an average digital compact camera). The silver and black shell is quite conservative but is better looking than most other SLR cameras! For your money you also get a 28mm-80mm lens, which works on other similar SLRs. It gives a reasonable amount of zoom for its size and the general quality of the optics is impressive, exactly what you'd expect from Canon. The quality of the lens and the optics are very important and people often overlook this. Visible light is made up of a continuous spectra of colours (in order from longest wavelength to shortest) red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Each wavelength is diffracted a different amount. Essentially, on poor quality lenses the result of this is that the colour don't line up properly. Often signs of this include edges of objects being a different colour, such as blue or red. You have been warned!

Unlike many of its' predecessors, the EOS 50E offers fully automatic operation in addition to total manual operation. So even the novice photographer can take reasonable photos. Loading 35mm film is very easy, you just open the rear door of the camera and insert the film. When the film has been completed, it is automatically rewound. The camera automatically rolls on the film after every shot, even in multishot mode (at a maximum rate of 2.5 frames per seconds). In multishot mode, you just keep your finger on the exposure button and the camera will take shots in rapid succession - useful for sports photographers. At the top of the camera there is a small flash which pops up when the camera requires it or when you press button beside it. The flash also offers red eye reduction.

To auto focus, you need to press the exposure button lightly. Manual focus can be used by flicking a switch on the lens and rotating the front of the lens. However, the EOS 50E has one feature up its sleeve which gives you a good reason never to use the manual focusing! Below I've taken a photo of the EOS 50E viewfinder. Circled in yellow are three black rectangles. You just have to look at one of the rectangles, and the EOS 50E will auto focus on that object! Consequently you can auto focus on the right object the first time. For example in the picture below, if you want to auto focus on the Coke can, most cameras will instead auto focus on the table because it is nearer and bigger. There is no such problem with this EOS 50E. To use this system (known as Eye Control), you have to calibrate the camera for your eyes. It can store up to to three different calibration settings. What is amazing is that Eye Control actually works! I don't know exactly how Eye Control works, but I would have thought it must somehow detect the direction of your pupil.

The quality of the photos taken with the EOS 50E is very good and cannot be faulted. The quality exceeds virtually all digital cameras, and the resolution is higher. The higher resolution an image is, the larger you can expand it without a loss of quality. For example when comparing the EOS 50E and a low resolution digital camera using 6" x 4" prints, the difference is not as noticeable as when you compare larger prints. However, it would be interesting to compare the output to that of a digital SLR or an expensive digital compact camera.

In the the below picture, you can see the LCD display to the right. This shows you how many photos you have taken and also the current settings such as red eye reduction. Next to that is a wheel which can switches the camera in multishot mode. At the right side you have another wheel which adjusts further settings. From this dial you can choose to have fully automatic operation, or turn it to have settings optimised for portraits, landscapes etc. Being a high end camera, you also have the option of manually changing the aperture, shutter and exposure settings. Virtually every part of this camera can be manually controlled, or automatically controlled if you prefer.

Although this EOS 50E may seem expensive you have to note that many compact digital cameras cost the same (with digital SLR costing nearly double). If you are looking for a high quality, auto camera with ground breaking features, the EOS 50E is your camera.