Shooting With Canon's First Autofocus SLR: The EOS 650


Oak Tree, Koreshan Unity Settlement, Estero, FL, T-Max 3200


I recently won can online auction of a collection of various old photographic equipment for next to nothing. Included in my winnings was an old Canon 650 35mm film SLR camera. This acquisition brought back a lot of memories for me!

Way back in the early 1990's, when my motorsports photography career was still pretty young, I returned home to my apartment one day to find that a window had been jimmied open and all my photographic gear had been stolen! At the time I was shooting with Canon FD manual focus gear, having had very little experience with the new autofocus bodies, I was not really sold on the new technology and did not really trust the autofocus equipment. ( In fact it was several years before I started using and trusting autofocus, and even after I'd acquired autofocus gear, I continued to manually focus on all my assignments!)


Arlo the Dog, T-Max 400


With Daytona's Speedwells rapidly approaching and with very little hope of getting my camera gear back, at least before the races arrived (I never did get any of the gear back), I decided to order a couple of the new autofocus bodies and a few lenses. The bodies I ordered were a Canon EOS 650, which had been Canon's first autofocus body in 1987 and a Canon EOS 620. Along with the bodies, I ordered a wide zoom and a Canon EF 75-300 zoom. I remember missing my Canon T-90's, A-1's and F-1, but with no choice, I soldiered on with the EOS gear and it was not long before I had graduated on to the EOS-1's and started to actually use the autofocus technology with good results and life went on from there.


Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY, T-Max 3200

So my recent auction acquisition brough back a lot of memories and, with my recent re-involvement in 35mm film shooting and processing, I was anxious to attach some of my current lenses to the EOS 650 body and run a roll or two through it.



I'm a back-button autofocus shooter, and I'm not even sure if that was an option on the 650, but I could not figure out how to do it, so I accepted the fact that I would be shooting shutter-button auto-focus, which I really do not like. With no camera manual, it took me awhile to figure out how to work the aperture in the manual shooting mode. The camera also has Time Value, Aperture Value, Program and Depth of Field shooting modes.


Alligator Warning Sign, Estero River, Estero, FL, T-MAx 3200


It was not long before I was happily snapping away, starting at the back of the camera blankly after each shot, waiting for an image to pop up on the non-existent LCD screen, as is the habit of most digital shooters who pick up an old film camera out of curiosity.

35mm Film

I've always been a fan of the feel and sound of a film shutter and film motor drive, so these sounds and sensation all came back to me. The feel of the camera in my hands was quite familiar and the ergonomics of Canon cameras have changed surprisingly little over the past 30 years, although this was before the days of the rear control wheel which is so familiar to Canon camera shooters.

Every 36 pictures, of course, you are jarred back to reality as the whirring of the film rewind motor tells you it's time to load another roll of film, quite a change from the virtually unlimited shooting capacity of today's digital cameras.


Mt. Hope Cemetery, Rochester, NY, T-Max 3200

Because am not yet familiar with today's active photo labs and because of the poor result sI've had dealing with local photo labs, I am so far shooting only black and white film since I still have my old film processing gear and, with chemicals ordered from Amazon, I am developing my own film for now,

I as I gradually reimburse myself in film photography, many of the old ritual sand feeling come flooding back. Just like riding a bicycle, I guess you never really forget how to load film on processing reels once you know how. For me, the inability to let the film fully dry before I am searching for a loupe and holding the dripping film up to a light source so I can see my photos is still a fact of my photographic life.

Having never been a big fan of darkroom printmaking, and only having endured it for years out of necessity, I really have no desire to load my negatives into an enlarger and splash paper in chemicals to produce prints. I am more than happy to scan my negs and do my editing on a computer! Still, film photography is a very different experience than digital photography, and one that I am happily rediscovering in the later stages of my photographic career.

I've always liked the idea of salvaging something off the scrap heap and putting it productive use, and find it exciting to purchase the cameras that I either used or longed after earlier in my career for virtually pennies and loading them with film to go out and make pictures.

To view my full EOS 650 35mm film gallery, please click here


About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.

Thrift Store Camera: Argus 100 35mm film camera


Front Straightaway pit structures, Sebring Raceway, Sebring , Florida
I've recently been drawn back to my photographic roots, which involves film photography. Not just loading a roll of film into a camera and going out and shooting pictures, but also bringing the film home, loading it into a tank, pouring in chemicals and processing the film myself.

Kodak D-76 Black & White Film Developer Powder to Make 1 Liter.

I'm not sure what satisfaction this brings me, but I do find it satisfying for sure. Reliving the early days of my career in photography involves the careful planning of each and every shot, know that you have a very limited number of shots available. There is no 64GB memory cards or delete buttons, only a finite number of exposures on a roll of film before you have to stop and reload, assuming you have more film with you.

Before you load each roll, you make several conscious decisions: color or black and white? 100 asa or 800 asa? Once the film is in the camera, there's no turning back, so to speak. These are the things that many photographer today don't really think about as they go about creating their photography.



Beyond this, in the last few weeks, I've decided to start shooting photos on old, cheap film cameras that I've discovered and purchased in thrift shops.

With that in mind, a few thoughts and photos on this week's Bargain Store acquisition: An old Argus 100 35mm film camera.


Argus 100 35mm film camera

This camera is basically a reloadable version of the throwaway, one-time use, cameras that were popular in the 1990's. Fixed focus, a high-low sliding aperture switch of bright light and low light, manual film cranking knurled knob, etc. I like the fact that this camera has a 38mm lens, which is slightly wider that a "normal" lens for 35mm film. While this was most likely intended to expand the focal depth go field, it also gives the photos a slightly wider look, drawing the viewer more into the photos. There is a hot shoe to attach a flash if you want to and, of course, a film rewind button and crank for when the roll is finished.


White Chapel, Granada River, Ormond Beach, Florida

Because there are no exposure controls, other than the sliding high light, low light switch, there is very little the photographer has to think about beyond composing the picture. One thing to keep in mind when shooting with these types of cameras, is that there are designed to give general exposure that will work with about ASA 100 to ASA 400 film, with the ASA 100 negatives being a little thin, of underexposed, and the 400 negatives being a little dense, or over-exposed.



The shutter speeds in these cameras are generally on the low side, so when using a camera like this you should make every effort to hold the camera very still while depressing the shutter button to avoid camera shake and motion blur.


Ormond Beach Yacht Club building, built in 1910

So I think what it comes down to is the satisfaction that can be derived from trying to use a tool pulled basically off of the junk pile, using old techniques and technology to create somewhat interesting images from today's world. Photographing things you see in the world today using a an old camera and film is a way of in and of itself to document those items in a way they've never been documented before.


Rural roadside mailboxes, Sebring , Florida

If you enjoy making digital photographs today, and have a desire to experience and appreciate the history of your craft, I'd definitely recommend dropping into your local Goodwill Store and picking up an old film camera, funning a few rolls of film through it, process the film yourself or send it to the lab and enjoy the results!

To view my full Argus 100 35mm film gallery, please click here


About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.






Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic Site on film


The Panetrary Court, built in 1896

A recent camping trip on an off-weekend between motorsport photo shoots at the Koreshan Unity Settlement Historic Site at Koreshan State Park in Estero , Florida seemed like the perfect opportunity to pull out one of my old 35mm film cameras and a roll of expired T-Max 400 and indulge my new/old obsession: film photography.

The Historic Site, which is all that remains of a religious community established in the late 1800's near Ft. Myers, Florida, is a photographically target-rich environment, just begging to be photographed on black and white film!



More than 100 years ago, the original settlers of the community moved here with visions of establishing a city which they hoped would grow to as many a s 10 million people and be a worldwide center for their religion. This vision did not quite pan out, and by the 1980's all the residents of the community were gone, leaving behind their story and the few physical structures that remain.



With the limited time I had, I made a couple of trips through the set, photographing it both digitally as well as on 35mm film. I used a Canon EOS 650, which was Canon's original EOS autofocus body back in the 80's, which I had picked up at an online auction for next to nothing. The beauty of these old canon bodies is that you can use all your current canon mount lenses with them, and their functions are fairly intuitive for a Canon shooter.


Interior view, Damkohler House, built in 1882

For someone like myself, who spent 20 years in film photography before the dawn of the digital age right about the turn of the century, it is hard to grasp the attraction I now feel for film photography, more than 15 years down the road from casting off all my old chemical-stained clothing. I think it has something to do with the deliberateness of the process, from determining the composition, focus and exposure to the finality of pressing the shutter button and advancing the film one more step toward the end of the roll, knowing that when the film is gone, the photography is over.



And, as someone recently told me, I am a glutton for punishment apparently, as I have even pulled all my old processing tanks out of storage, ordered chemical from
Amazon, and gone to work processing my own film. The excitement as I anticipate the images on the film is just like it was for me in the old days, when there was no other way to produce photographic images, I find that I am still unable to wait for the full duration of the fixing chemical time before I have pulled the wet film out of the fixer and am holding it up to the light with a magnifier to see what I've actually captured.


The Founder's House, built in 1896

Anyway, I was happy with the results of my hour spent at the Koreshan Unity Settlement with my old Canon EOS 650 and an expired roll of Kodak
T-Max 400, and would encourage any photography with a curiosity for the origins of his or her craft to pick up an old film camera and some film and give it a go. My belief is that it will only deepen your love for photography



To view my full 35mm film gallery from the Koreshan Unity Settlement, please
click here

About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.


An Old Race Car Photographer Photographs Old Race Cars


I guess it's only fitting that the first entry into my new blog features old race cars. After all I basically got involved in photography 30 years ago to be able to take decent pictures of one of the sports I love: auto racing. Obviously, that wasn't the only reason I first picked up a camera, it certainly figured heavily into it.



For one thing, auto racing lends itself quite nicely to photography, with its bright colors, spectacular action and high emotions. I've photographed hundreds of motor races since 1977 including the Indy 500, Daytona 500 and Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, so when "Rennsport Reunion III" rolled into Daytona International Speedway this past weekend and I was offered a n assignment to work the event, which featured hundreds of historic Porsche race cars and drivers, I jumped at it.
I'd actually photographed many of these machines in the past when they were "racing in anger" as the saying goes, so it brought back many memories.




The photo I've included in this post features the yellow #48 Porsche 917 driven by Jim Torres doing battle with the tiny #4 Porsche 908 of Phil Daigrepont in the Group 4 race on Sunday afternoon. I was struck by the tremendous difference in the size of the two cars as they raced side-by-side around Daytona's famous race course.
The color and history of an event like this recommends it highly to any photographer looking to fill his portfolio with images of these rolling works of art.

### About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.