Camera Reviews

Canon took a giant risk, but won big, when they built a lens mount from the ground up for their auto-everything SLR system. This, the EOS 630, is an early example. Check my updated review here.

Canon EOS 630

Updated review: Canon EOS 630

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Footbridge

Bridge in the woods
Canon EOS 630, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF II
Eastman Double-X 5222
2018

It was a cold, gray day when I visited Flowing Well Park in Carmel. I’d never been before; I was surprised to find a small trail in there that led across this footbridge.

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Film Photography

single frame: Bridge in the woods

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Camera Reviews

Operation Thin the Herd: Canon EOS 630

Louvers

Auto-everything film shooting isn’t normally my bag. I’m more a match-needle, twist-to-focus kind of guy. But even I have to admit, sometimes there’s charm in letting a camera do the grunt work.

Canon EOS 630

This is a very early EOS camera, dating to about 1989. I’ve only shot this camera once before, that time with the pictured 35-80mm lens. I shot my former favorite (now discontinued) b/w film, Arista Premium 400.

Barber Shop

I reached for black-and-white film this time, too: Eastman Double-X 5222. But I used my sweet little 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF II lens.

Footbridge

It was gray and cold most of the time I had film in the EOS 630. I’ve never shot Double-X in those conditions and I was surprised by how muddy everything turned out.

Flowing

These photos are from Flowing Well Park on 116th St. in Carmel. That bridge there carries 116th.

Creek

I got a little sun one afternoon and in a spare 30 minutes I took the EOS 630 out on a walk around downtown Fishers. I’ve photographed this area so much over the last year that if you were to look through the photos you’d watch the area change rapidly. It’s heavily under construction. New buildings go up all the time.

Downtown Fishers

Which means parking is becoming a problem. Fishers is solving it with parking garages. I’m not a fan.

Parking

The EOS 630 kept metering for the shadows, I guess, because the highlights were nearly washed out. Tweaking exposure and contrast in Photoshop helped a little. And lest you think that it’s only new buildings in Fishers, a few of the old houses do remain, tucked into alleyways and along side streets.

House in old Fishers

One old house was converted into a little tea room. This is its gate.

Gate

To see more photos from this camera, check out my Canon EOS 630 gallery.

I wasn’t enamored of the EOS 630 the first time I shot it. But I’ve used several more auto-everything SLRs since then, enough to know that this really is a pretty good tool. Focus was always right and exposure was at least good enough. I wished that the body were a little smaller and lighter, like the later EOS Rebel cameras. If I have to shoot a camera this bulky, I might as well reach for my semi-pro EOS A2e. It’s a much better camera. And for that reason, this EOS 630 must go. There’s room for at most one EOS SLR in my collection.

Verdict: Goodbye

I’m selling some very nice cameras from my collection. See them here.

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Wall

Wall
Canon EOS 630, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF II
Eastman Double-X 5222
2018

I took the EOS 630 all over, shooting whenever I had a little time and good enough weather. I hadn’t been to Crown Hill Cemetery in a while so I made some photographs over there. This low retaining wall borders the military portion of the cemetery. That 50/1.8 resolves pretty well on the Double-X.

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Film Photography

single frame: Wall

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VDGN

VDGN
Canon EOS 630, 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF II
Eastman Double-X 5222
2018

Vardagen is a T-shirt and coffee shop in one of Fisher’s few remaining old buildings downtown. I go in there about once a week, for cold brew in the warm months and Cubans when it’s cold.

They like to stylize their name as VDGN. This is the back of their building and the building next to theirs.

Upcoming in Operation Thin the Herd, my Canon EOS 630. It’s an early example of Canon’s EOS series of SLRs.

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Film Photography

single frame: VDGN

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Camera Reviews

Canon EOS 630

I’ve become…Canon curious.

It’s not like I haven’t shot Canon before. My main camera is the wonderful Canon S95. But it’s a point-and-shoot digital camera, not a film SLR. And frankly, I’m a Pentaxian first, a Nikonian second, and that’s enough to keep a man busy for a long time.

I have shot two manual-focus Canon film SLRs, but never a camera from Canon’s EOS line, the bodies and lenses of which were designed from the ground up for automatic exposure and focus. Where Nikon has stuck doggedly with its lens mount that dates to 1959, Canon started with a clean sheet in 1987 with EOS. So I went looking for an early example, and came up with this EOS 630.

Canon EOS 630

Canon introduced the tall and bulky EOS 630 in 1989. It’s long specification list (see it here) can be boiled down to this: it has several autoexposure modes including full program, a shutter that operates from 30 sec to 1/2000 sec, and autofocus. Like most early all-electronic SLRs, there’s no mode dial; to change settings, you press buttons and look at the LCD panel.

Canon EOS 630

This EOS 630 came to me with a plastic-bodied, nearly weightless f/4-5.6 35-80mm lens. I was surprised that this lens tips the camera forward, because the plasticky EOS 630 is surprisingly heavy.

If you’re interested in Canon EOS cameras, by the way, I’ve also tried the EOS 650 (here), the EOS A2e (here), the EOS Rebel (here), and the EOS Rebel S (here). You might also enjoy my reviews of the Canon AE-1 Program (here) and T70 (here). Or just check out all of my camera reviews here.

Despite the EOS 630’s various modes, this camera really wants you to just set it in Program and shoot mindlessly. So that’s what I did, after loading a roll of Arista Premium 400. Film loading is as easy as it gets: insert the film, draw the leader across to the red mark, and shut the door. The 630 automatically rewinds the film after the last frame.

Even though an f/4 lens doesn’t exactly scream “available light photography” I tried shooting a few things around the house. My mother’s grandfather — or was it her great grandfather? — made these duck decoys. As display pieces, they haven’t fooled any ducks in at least a half century.

Decoys

Despite being an unimpressive kit lens, the 35-80 is capable of capturing rich tones on the Arista Premium film. I shoot this trio of trees frequently, as they’re convenient: on the golf course behind my house. The sun was bright and the shadows were crisp.

Golf course trees

Meet my next-door neighbor’s new puppy. I think the EOS 630 is meant for candid, casual shots like this — aim at the subject, press the button, let the camera make zip-zap noises while it focuses, get the picture. If the zip-zap were faster, I might have captured pupper before he turned his head.

Neighbor's new pup

I figured I might as well take advantage of the zoom lens, so I took a walk along Michigan Road near my home and photographed the surroundings. I’ve been meaning to do it for years. Here’s a longtime barber shop — the “421” refers to this road’s number when it used to be a U.S. highway. Despite being big and bulky, the EOS 630 handled fine on my walk.

Barber Shop

I hoped for more contrast and sharpness in these photographs. To be fair, my lens is defective — on my first shot, the front element fell off. Plop. I fitted it back in as tightly as I could and hoped for the best. Perhaps a non-broken lens would have performed better. But I feel like I won’t know what the EOS system is capable of until I shoot with a 50mm prime.

So I bought one, For a 50mm f/1.8 Canon EF lens, and took the EOS 630 out again with Eastman Double-X 5222 film aboard.

VDGN

The lens made the most of the Double-X’s inherent contrastiness, and returned excellent detail. Win!

Parking

The EOS 630 continued to be a big lump in my hands, inspiring no love or joy. But it did its job.

Wall

I know a lot of people loved these cameras. I’m not one of them. I didn’t dislike the 630, I just wished for more dopamine (or seratonin, or whatever the right feel-good chemical) to wash through my body as I used it.

Creek

To see more photos, check out my EOS 630 gallery.

Cameras like this are a great way for a first-time film shooter to dip a toe in the water, as you don’t actually have to know anything about exposure or focus to get good shots. While I generally recommend cameras like the Nikon N60 to such people because I find them more joyful to shoot, cameras like this EOS 650 can be picked up for an absolute song, sometimes less than $10, and as you can see they still do great work.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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