I brought the Canon EOS-1 a couple of years ago and among all of the cameras that I have had and have been able to use up until now, it is still my favorite in the original analogue EOS series.

Although I had previously considered models for non-professionals like the Canon 1000S or ELAN II, the EOS-1 is in another category. It shows in the weight and in the handling of the controls. My main use foir the EOS-1 is in the studio or outside in nature. I do not use it intensively for sports or “external hard work”, since it is a camera that I bought used and like a classic car deserves certain care in use.

The camera has similar features to some modern digital cameras: a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000, sync for studio flashes at 1/250 or less, quick dial wheel and a very intuitive operation.

It was the first model of the EOS-1 series and has been so successful that its descendants – both analog and digital – continue to maintain their design style based on it.

Sure that at the time it went to market, it wasn’t exactly cheap but luckily thanks to the passage of time I was able to get a very good price and as a user of Canon did not have much to adapt me to the management of the camera at all.

Here’s what’s covered in this article:

The EOS-1 in pictures

Juan Gauna - Canon EOS1 - Front
Juan Gauna – Canon EOS-1 – Front

In the photo above we can see the front of the camera with its depth of field button (bottom left), the lens release (middle right) and the self-timer indicator (red light, upper left).

The booster pack at the bottom of the body has an additional trigger button (without the command wheel) and provides a second shutter release for vertical operation.
The left of the camera is quite bare, offering a few function buttons and PC-Sync flash cable connector port.

Things get interesting as on the right of the camera, where we find the access door for the battery level buttons, custom functions, trigger operation (S-Ch/Cl – Timer 2/10 seconds) and the reset all functions button.

Under all of this is the connector for the trigger cable (60-T3).

Juan Gauna - Canon EOS1 - Right
Juan Gauna – Canon EOS-1 – Right

Moving to the rear we can see the 100% viewfinder with its and diopter correction, film rewind button, AE Lock button, Exposure compensation button (+/-), film window, quick control dial & quick control dial switch, main switch and in the booster pack, a vertical AE Lock button.

Juan Gauna - Canon EOS1 - Rear
Juan Gauna – Canon EOS-1 – Rear

With the film door open you can see all of the things you expect in a professional film camera of its time: DX contacts and quick load guide (right).

You might be interested in...
Juan Gauna - Canon EOS1 - Film door open
Juan Gauna – Canon EOS-1 – Film door open 

On the top of the camera you can view the following buttons: Mode, AF, ISO, ME, Metering. In addition we have the hot shoe, LCD panel illumination button, the LCD panel, shutter button and control dial.

Juan Gauna - Canon EOS1 - Top
Juan Gauna – Canon EOS-1 – Top

And finally, the bottom of the camera with the tripod socket, which is not so interesting…but also the contact points for the bootser back…which is.

Juan Gauna - Canon EOS1 - Bottom
Juan Gauna – Canon EOS-1 – Bottom 

The Canon EF lens system

The entire EF series of Canon lenses from 1987 to the present day work spectacularly with the exception of some IS lenses where the stabilization system doesn’t always work very well.

I have not personally used lenses from other brands like Sigma, Tamron, etc., with this camera so I cannot tell you about what kinds of issues you might expect with them.

Canon EOs-1 pros and cons


  • It’s an inexpensive camera.
  • If it is in good working order it is a true tank, solid and well built.
  • Resists some moisture, not torrential rain or deep cleaning in the shower.
  • All full frame Canon “EF” mount lenses from 1987 to now can be used.
  • I tested it with a Canon 580 EXII flash and a Yongnuo Yn-560ex in TTL and manual mode, without problems.
  • It’s very comfortable in the hand Viewfinder has 100% coverage.
  • A classic and legendary camera.


  • Has a single point of focus (which for the use I have is more than enough, the rest readjust the framing and problem solved).
  • The TTL flash system is somewhat old, but it does work.
  • The grip has no main dial, so you have to adjust some functions in the body of the camera, that for sports has to be somewhat tedious but my use in studio and personal stuff is no problem.
  • It’s old and spare parts are not available (forget getting an original eyecup, it is like finding the holy grail), but as you read through the web this Canon comes with double-everything, so if something internal has an issue, it is not always a problem because it has a double circuit that responds to keep it all working.

Sample pictures

Please click or tap on a thumbnail to view the images in full screen.

Summary and conclusion

This camera is excellent for shooting film using the lenses I use with my digital Canon full frame body. It is a camera that is currently “price friendly” in the market and has a wonderdul “crush of noise” when advancing and rewinding the film.

This camera has made me rethink my way of approaching photography many times, as I have to take some time and rethink some things that the digital world has made me forget.

Long live film, long live the Canon EOS-1.

~ Juan Gauna

Canon EOS-1 technical specifications

ManufacturerCANON INC. - Tokyo, Japan
Camera nameCanon EOS-1
Camera typeSingle Lens reflex
Film type35mm
Image format24x36mm
Manufacture dates1989-1993
Viewfinder0.72x magnification, near 100% coverage.

"Laser Matte" standard focusing screen + 7 interchangeable options.
Built-in dioptric correction up to ±2 diopters, 20mm eye relief.
ViewfinderAF mark, in-focus indicator
Spot metering circle (5mm dia. at center)
Partial metering circle (8mm dia. at center)

Shutter speed and aperture setting (digital readout in 1/3-stop increments).

AE lock, manual, flash ready, exposure compensation, exposure level scale, exposure level display (dots and bars), remaining frame count, and other indications.
Lens mountCanon EF lens mount
LensesThe entire Canon EF series from 1987 to date.
ShutterVertical metal focal plane,30 seconds to 1/8,000 second.
AutofocusTTL Phase Detection Autofocus (1 zone), One-Shot AF and predictive AI Servo AF
MeteringMetering range with evaluative or partial metering: EV 0 – 20.
Metering range with spot metering at ISO 100 and f/1.4: EV 2 – 20.

Manual ISO selection from 6-6400, DX-coded film from ISO 25 to ISO 5000.

Composite SPC for TTL full-aperture metering (6-zone evaluative, 5.8% partial at center, and 2.3% spot metering at center) with shutter speed-priority AE, aperture-priority AE, depth-of-field AE, Intelligent program AE, and metered manual.

AE lock enabled for both auto and manual. Exposure compensation and autobracketing range of ±3 EV (in 1/3-stop increments).

Maximum 9 multiple exposures.

Flash sync1/250 or slower with dedicated hot shoe, PC terminal.
Self timer2 or 10 seconds.
Advance modesSingle (2.5 FPS), Continued high / low (3 FPS).
PowerSingle 2CR5 lithium battery or Booster Pack using 8x AA batteries.
Weight890g (with battery)
Dimensions161 x 107 x 72mm

Share your knowledge, story or project

The transfer of knowledge across the film photography community is the heart of EMULSIVE. You can add your support by contributing your thoughts, work, experiences and ideas to inspire the hundreds of thousands of people who read these pages each month. Check out the submission guide here.

If you like what you're reading you can also help this passion project by heading over to the EMULSIVE Patreon page and contributing as little as a dollar a month. There's also print and apparel over at Society 6, currently showcasing over two dozen t-shirt designs and over a dozen unique photographs available for purchase.

About the author

Avatar - Juan Gauna

Argentine photographer. I work in various branches of photography: creative, editorial, fashion, product, advertising, social, etc. Taking artistic and analog photography as personal development and cable to ground in this digital world. I am currently working...

, and please make sure you also check out their website here.

Join the Conversation



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Can someone on the internet please just test the old eos film cameras with tamron and sigmas OS /vc and af? Of all the articles on the internet about film cameras everyone skips this.

  2. I have three! Incredibel cameras and EF lens are superb – The 40mm STM works very well indeed. You can buy a eye-cup from eBaY! Very good review and articles – Many Thanks – Ian

  3. Wonderful camera. I bought my EOS-1V in early 2013, right before Canon stopped making. Perfect, dead-on metering for shooting chromes. You will be astonished at how beautiful color can be with Kodak Ektachrome [stored in my freezer]. Also perfect camera for street shooting with an ISO 100 film. Don’t worry about not using a 400 film. With Image Stabilization and perfect metering you will get the shot with little or no grain. Try with Acros 100, developed in XTOL 1:1. I use the EOS with my 24-105 IS and 35mm IS prime lens. For the landscape enthusiast, get Graduated Neutral Density filters to use. Yes, it’s a big, heavy camera [compared to my Yashica T4], but you are guaranteed perfectly metered photographs. Gracias, JB Gauna!

  4. I just treated myself to a 1N after using a EOS30/Elan 7e as my workhorse for the last 4 or 5 years (I love that camera, maybe i’ll review that actually). The jump up in build quality is crazy – it is a beautiful weighty tank even without the grip and that quick load option is a godsend compared to the fiddly lining up required on the EOS30. And yes, you’re so right about the satisfying noise! It is definitely the sexiest noise of all my cameras.
    Did you have any issue with sticky grip? I got mine on the auction site for a good price, and it was listed very good condition (overall it is), but sneakily they did not mention the awful tacky goop on the palm door. Apparently this is a common problem, and I spent a good while googling solutions (alcohol, WD40 etc) none of which worked even slightly. I started to despair that I would have to physically scrub the entirety of the textured grip coating off in order not to have that sticky door (just could not shoot with it – it’s a really gross feeling).
    So, here is the solution if you (or any readers) has the problem – spray it with body spray. Not anti-perspirant mind, just regular body spray. The solvent in that worked a treat – spray it up close for accuracy and to get a good amount of liquid solvent on there, rubbing it in gently with a cotton swap. Three applications and it was not only totally none-tacky, it looked sparkling clean and brand new ( and smelled good 😉 )

    1. Hello Ben
      Thank you for sharing your contribution, I told you that I was testing it with a Tamron 10-24 and it works well … from 15mm onwards, less produces tunel effect.
      With respect to the adhesive tape I recommend double thin adhesive, it works great!
      Greetings from Argentina!

  5. Hi I have just this camera. You can really see where the 5D Mk1 came from. The thing that really impressed me was the metering. Its excellent in low light and you have the ability to manually average multiple readings. As you say and with the grip I think this is the most comfortable camera I have every held. It fits like a glove. You can also certainly hammer in nails with it! I’ve used it with my 100-400L and the autofocus works remarkably well. I should use it more but I’m a legacy Pentax lens and larger format sort of guy so I don’t have any sensible EF lenses for it. Nice review Cheers A

  6. This is my “back to film” camera and I absolutely love it. VF, shutter sound, weight, shape – everything. Without a grip, used it a lot for street shooting as well, and successfully. Old EF lenses are sweet. It meters very well – in all meter modes. As of rain – I once used it in heavy rain and at some point the shutter suddenly went into a burst mode and finished my roll in few seconds. After that I just dried it up and the camera still works as should, all the functions are okay 🙂

    1. Hello Daniel Tim
      Thanks for your comment, recently a friend give me another Canon EOS-1 because, the TTL flash system its broken, this happens because of the high voltage of the old flashes, like a old Metz.
      Greetings from Argentina!