The 30-Year-Old Canon Camera That Introduced Eye Control Focus


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Do you know that Canon launched the world to eye management focus again in 1992? On this retrospective, I’ll talk about the Canon EOS A2E, the world’s first digital camera that allowed the person to pick a focusing level by merely it.

The Canon EOS A2E (EOS 5 in European markets) was a prosumer SLR that had a slew of superior options, together with a wonderful 5-point autofocus system, a wide range of publicity modes together with Program, Shutter and Aperture Precedence, Guide, Portrait, Panorama, Sports activities, and extra, a big, built-in flash with 28mm-80mm automated zoom, 1/200 sec flash sync, 1/8,000 sec high shutter pace, 16 customized features together with high-speed movie rewind, again button autofocus management, mirror lockup, and the power to go away the movie chief out, a characteristic that I at all times appreciated as a result of I developed my very own movie. The A2E was additionally certainly one of Canon’s cameras that helped codify their design language, and in operation, it is rather just like the 5D collection. It options the identical command dial, fundamental dial, and rear management wheel, a testomony to enduring nice design. If all of this wasn’t sufficient, the digital camera was the primary to introduce eye management focus (within the A2E mannequin), though it may very well be bought with out this characteristic because the A2.

A Prosumer Digicam Liked By Execs

Within the lineup, the A2 collection was positioned just below Canon’s EOS-1 collection workhorses and marketed as semi-professional fashions. The A2 rapidly gained reputation with execs, nevertheless, due to its sturdy characteristic set, glorious dealing with, and reliability. Though the digital camera is made largely of plastic, it proved itself as extraordinarily well-made and capable of deal with a wide range of capturing situations. I’ve owned my A2E since 1998, and it nonetheless works flawlessly. When the non-compulsory VG-10 vertical grip was connected, it not solely gave the person a vertical shutter button, fundamental dial, AF selector button, and customized button, but additionally made the ergonomics significantly better and resulted in one of many best-looking cameras of the interval.

Eye Management Focus

To not be confused with eye monitoring focus in fashionable digital cameras, eye management focus let the person choose one of many 5 horizontally positioned focusing factors by one and urgent the shutter button midway. The system was revolutionary for the Nineteen Nineties, however had blended outcomes relying on the particular photographer. It at all times labored properly for me, nevertheless, and even once I dusted off my A2E and shot just a few rolls of movie for this retrospective, I used to be pleasantly stunned with its accuracy, which, though not excellent, labored more often than not. Within the A2E, the characteristic solely labored in panorama mode, nevertheless, so taking vertical photographs needed to be accomplished the old style approach, by manually deciding on a focusing level or letting the digital camera resolve.

Eye management focus rapidly reached its apex within the EOS 3, which I additionally owned however (regretfully) offered a few years in the past. The EOS 3 took a spot above the A2E and just below the EOS-1 collection in Canon’s lineup, and featured an unbelievable 45-point autofocus system with a lot improved eye management focus. Sadly, eye management was a short-lived characteristic and disappeared altogether not lengthy after the EOS 3, and though I have no idea the official purpose why, I might guess that it was resulting from how inconsistently it appeared to work from one person to the subsequent.

I’ll add one different downside I discovered with eye management focus. When utilizing the system, generally, I discovered myself one of many autofocus factors as an alternative of at my topic, so in an odd approach, it momentarily eliminated me from taking note of my composition, as my eye was targeted on the little pink squares within the viewfinder.

Ergonomics and Dealing with

The ergonomics and dealing with of the A2E are exemplary, particularly for a close to 30-year-old digital camera. As I discussed, the format is similar to the 5D collection, and if you happen to have a look at the cameras aspect by aspect, you’ll be able to see how carefully Canon has stayed true to their design language all through the years. The grip on the digital camera is without doubt one of the finest elements, as it’s massive, deep, and really snug. The vertical grip has the identical degree of consolation and assist, and the buttons are properly positioned, which make the digital camera simple to make use of in both portrait or panorama orientation. Dialing within the appropriate publicity is straightforward through the primary dial and rear management wheel, though the A2 collection lacked an publicity scale and used a easy plus/minus icon within the viewfinder (the European mannequin has a correct publicity scale which makes it extra fascinating on the used market at this time). The viewfinder is massive and shiny, and total, buttons and dials appear proper the place they need to be, which made utilizing the digital camera after a few years a breeze.

The A2E shouldn’t be a small digital camera, and one factor that stunned me was how cumbersome it appeared now. Even with out the vertical grip, the digital camera is chunky and has first rate weight to it, particularly for one thing that is kind of made from plastic. It’s not overly heavy for positive, however the measurement and weight are noticeable if you happen to carry it round for a day of capturing. The massive built-in flash additionally signifies that the highest of the digital camera protrudes ahead fairly a bit and has an angular design, not like most of Canon’s high-end fashions, however I at all times discovered this so as to add to the allure of the digital camera.


For this text, I examined the A2E with an EF 50mm f/1.4 lens, and I discovered the focusing total to be quick and correct. There have been just a few instances the place pictures I assumed have been locked into focus got here out barely blurry. Since one characteristic the digital camera is lacking is a diopter, it was robust for me to inform if focus was locked in just a few cases as properly. One different quirk concerning the digital camera is that once in a while, it will take an extra cut up second for the digital camera to fireplace. At first, I assumed there was one thing flawed with it, however then, I spotted that it hadn’t achieved focus and was nonetheless within the technique of locking on to the topic. This additionally occurred a handful of instances.

Apart from autofocus, one factor that I loved about utilizing the A2E once more is how briskly it’s to dial in settings. Altering from one mode to a different is quick and straightforward, and adjusting aperture or shutter pace is so simple as utilizing a contemporary Canon digital camera. Dialing in settings was intuitive and enjoyable, with the primary hindrance being the straightforward plus/minus publicity meter that lacks a scale.

Picture High quality

I shot two rolls of movie with the A2E (Fuji Superia 400 and Ilford XP2 Tremendous 400). I then had the negatives developed and scanned at my native digital camera retailer. I tweaked the 2 black and white pictures on this article, however the remainder are direct from the scans. I used to be rapidly reminded of how extremely spoiled we’re with high-resolution digital cameras relating to picture high quality; nevertheless, the outcomes have been very pleasing and have that sure movie look that could be very fascinating and emulated so typically. The pictures are contrasty with muted colours and have simply sufficient grain to make them look classic. I additionally used the flash as fill for a portrait of my spouse, and the digital camera metered that state of affairs properly. Though I’m turning into extra invested in capturing movie, I’m not but on the level of investing in a excessive decision movie scanner. I might think about that if I buy a superb scanner, I might see a noticeable distinction within the high quality of the scans, however I am not there but, particularly since the price of utilizing the digital camera is already fairly excessive, as I element under.

Vertical Grip

I at all times liked the vertical grip for the A2E. It’s small, gentle, and appears nice on the digital camera with out seeming like an afterthought, like many grips typically do. A part of the rationale why it’s so gentle and small is that it doesn’t comprise a battery compartment, which was clearly a compromise, however what was misplaced in performance was gained in measurement and usefulness. I at all times thought that the sharp angle of the grip on the non-shutter aspect was a really good design alternative as properly, as a result of it retains the digital camera from wanting like a large brick.

Capturing Price

The A2E makes use of a 2CR5 battery, one thing that was widespread within the Nineteen Nineties and a go-to battery for a lot of cameras. At the moment, nevertheless, a 2CR5 will run about $20. Add to this the price of the movie, round $15 every, and the price of scanning and growing two rolls, roughly $20 every, and it simply price nearly $100 to shoot two rolls of movie with this digital camera! Because of this I didn’t check it in high-speed steady!


The Canon A2E was and is a good digital camera. For the Nineteen Nineties, it’s feature-packed and versatile and has fairly a bit to supply movie shooters. For me, utilizing a digital camera like that is an train in nostalgia and enjoyable, though after dusting off my A2E, I believe I’ll use it extra typically. The query now’s whether or not or to not put money into a scanner and start growing my very own movie as soon as once more, and everyone knows that this could be a time-consuming and costly enterprise, albeit a number of enjoyable.

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