Top three EOS film cameras

Discussion in 'Canon Film SLRs' started by Ctrout, Aug 11, 2018.

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Which of these Canons has the best low light AF performance overall?

  1. EOS 3

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  2. EOS 1v

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  3. Elan 7NE/7N/7s

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  1. Ctrout

    Ctrout New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Equipment:
    5D4, 7D2, Elan 7s, EOS 3, 100-400L2, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105L, 50mm 1.4
    Mamiya C33 Pro, Mamiya RB67 Pro S, 50mm Sekor C, 127mm Sekor C
    Nikonos V, 35mm f2.5
    and about 100 pounds of pentax M42, K, and M gear
    This post will be a bit of a lengthy introduction. I shot Pentax film cameras until I went digital in 2002 when I switched to Canon (D30). I started looking at film again about 2 years ago when I was thinking about getting an EOS 3. I eventually decided that if I was going to use film again, I would likely only use it for artistic work that didn't require me to work in very challenging lighting conditions, and that allowed or required me to work more slowly. I decided for these reasons that the EOS 3 was overkill and I went back to Pentax film bodies, eventually collecting probably a dozen in both M42 and Pentax K mount. Somewhere along the way I also ended up with a Mamiya BR67 Pro S as well.

    Fast forward to this past Summer. I took a trip with my kids and decided that I would love to start collecting family memories on film again. Call it nostalgia or whatever, but I wanted my kids to be able to experience the same shoebox full of double prints that I grew up with, shot on real film. I took my Pentax LX and ME, one with black and white film, the other with color. Although the pictures turned out nice enough, I struggled quite a lot with focus, especially indoors under marginal light. I kept thinking to myself, "I should just put the Pentaxes away for the rest of the trip and grab the 5D mk iv." This got me looking at the EOS film cameras again.

    Of course, I went straight to the EOS 3 that got me started back on this film journey to begin with, but I kept seeing the Elan 7NE that is newer than the 3, and has some upgraded features like ETTL II and a supposedly better focusing system. My Elan 7s (Japanese version of the 7NE) arrived and I ran a couple rolls through it with my 24-105 f4 L and 70-200 f2.8 L and I think the Elan struggled as much with focusing indoors as I did with my manual focus Pentaxes. Additionally, since I use mostly black and white, when I had a filter on the lens indoors forget about it! The camera can't achieve focus under room lighting at all with a filter installed.

    I wouldn't say that I have buyer's remorse because I really like the camera and it performs very well under all other circumstances, but I did wonder if the EOS 3 would be able to nail focus under the conditions that the Elan 7s fails. I just ordered an EOS 3 and am anxious to find out. Once it arrives, I'll compare the two side by side and decide which is better under low light conditions with my lenses. Of course, I am also aware of the EOS 1v. I suppose once I have the 7s and the 3 sorted out, I'll have to grab the 1v as well so I can declare the absolute winner of Canon's film trifecta.

    So, since I have nothing yet to compare (the EOS 3 should arrive this Friday), I'm curious to hear the thoughts of anyone who has any relevant experience with any of these three bodies. Have you shot them indoors at night under normal room lighting, with a typical contrast filter (I use green when photographing people) installed? In your experience, how do either, or all of these cameras perform in comparison to each other in terms of focus speed and accuracy? Does a Canon autofocus 35mm film camera exist that will outperform all three of these in low light?
     

  2. Ctrout

    Ctrout New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Equipment:
    5D4, 7D2, Elan 7s, EOS 3, 100-400L2, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105L, 50mm 1.4
    Mamiya C33 Pro, Mamiya RB67 Pro S, 50mm Sekor C, 127mm Sekor C
    Nikonos V, 35mm f2.5
    and about 100 pounds of pentax M42, K, and M gear
    Kinda dead around here... Whatever, I'm content to talk to myself so here goes.

    The EOS 3 arrived today and I had the opportunity to spend several hours wringing it out. The first film mis developed and drying and it looks fine so at least I know that the camera functions as it should. This will be a very long post, taking an in-depth look at theCanon Elav 7s compared to the EOS 3. I'll detail how they performed for me personally, under test conditions that matterd most to ME. Keep that in mind. I have specific requirements that you may not have so if you find my review to be way off base, that is probably the reason. I'm not too demanding on features and things like that so my primary concern with these cameras has been the AF capability, particularly in low light. If you find yourself having similar demands from your equipment, you MIGHT fnd this lengthy review worth the read. If I was shooting landscapes or other static subjects under ideal light conditions, any EF mount 35mm body would probably do what I need done. For that matter, for static subjects under ideal lighting, I would be content to just stick with my Pentax manual focus bodies or my Mamiya RB67 Pro S.

    First of all, the Elan 7s arrived about two weeks ago so I've had a bit of time to play with it. My first impression was that although is is much lighter than my 5D kark IV and my 7D mark II, the Elan 7s doesn't feel "cheap" or "plasticky" like some people have said. I did notice that the battery door hinge is just a thin strip of plastic and will certainly eventually break off after years of opening and closing, along with the degradation of the plastic. My copy also had the dreaded "sticky grip," in spite of the camera being in otherwise mint condition. I searched the web and decided to try the fix for this that made the most sense to me. I aggressively scrubbed the grip with a wash cloth soaked with HEET in the yellow bottle. This is nothing more than 99% methyl alcohol and cleaned the grip up perfectly to like new condition.

    Performance wise, the Elan 7s reminds me of my old D30, 10D, or 5D mark I. It has just what it needs to be a decent general use camera with nothing that stands out to make the camera spectacular in any way by today's standards. I discovered, as many others have as well, that the ECF feature can be somewhat unreliable. I have probably run the calibration procedure over a dozen times with various lenses, and under various lighting conditions and the camera still chooses the adjacent sensor to the one I'm looking at, at least 25% of the time. I could have gotten the Elan 7N for less that half of what I paid to have the ECF gimmick.

    The main reason that I decided to get an EOS film camera is because I was having difficulty focusing indoors at night under normal room lighting with my Pentax MF 35mm cameras. I thought that one of the latest, highest end EOS cameras might get the job done. The Elan 7s didn't impress me under these low light conditions. The lighting that I tested it under was typical to a worst-case scenario that I had phoped the camera could handle. the exposure was 4 seconds at f4 with 100 iso film (EV 2). I turned off the ECF and selected the center focus point and the camera could not find focus anywhere on my daughter's face. I attempted several targets around the room and found only three that it could focus on at all, and then only about 30-40% of the time. The common factor between the three targets is that the were primarily bright areas (white, very light tan, very light grey) with at least a reasonable amount of contrast.

    Because the Elan 7s performed so marginally, I decided to step up to the EOS 3, supposedly a magical camera when it comes to its focusing capabilities. In my testing, the ECF was no better than that of the Elan 7s, frequently selecting an adjacent focus point, rather than the one I was looking at, regardless of the fact that I calibrated the camera over a dozen times. The EOS 3 has very similar CF features to the Elan 7s and I didn't find many of them useful to my photography (YMMV). The ultimate test would be the low light focus ability.

    Under the exact same lighting conditions, with exactly the same lenses, the EOS 3 BARELY outperformed the Elan 7s. Performance was identical with the exception of only one target, the light tan one. Where the Elan 7s took only one attempt to find focus coming from a close focus lens setting, the EOS 3 took two attempts. Also, the EOS 3 took one attempt to focus coming from infinity and the Elan 7s was unable to achieve focus coming from infinity. I gave the VERY SLIGHT edge to the EOS 3 because it was able to achieve focus on this target probably 80% of the time, while the Elan 7s only got it about 40-50%.

    Both cameras focused quickly or racked the lens quickly while looking for focus with the 24-105 f4 L version 1 and the 70-200 f2.8 L IS version 1. Bothe cameras also focused, or racked the lens PAINFULLY slowly withe the 100-400 f 4.5-5.6 L IS version 2. In other words, in low light, f4 lenses will respond quickly enough to make me happy, while the f4.5 lens literally had me wondering at times if the camera was driving the focus at all.

    Other impressions of the EOS 3 are that although it is noticeably louder that my digital EOS bodies, and considerably louder than the Elan 7s, I didn't find it offensively loud like others have complained it to be. I would compare it to the likes of my Pentax Super A with the motor drive A installed or my Pentax MX with the Winder MX installed. The EOS 3 also has a strange feel to it. As heavy as it is, I would expect it to feel more solid, like my 5D4 or 7D2, but the plastic shell leaves me wanting. If I have to tolerate a plastic exterior, I want the camera to feel like the Elan 7s, light and compact. If I have to tolerate a lot of weight, I expect a rock solid magnesium exterior like my 5D4 or 7D2. The EOS 3 just doesn't fall on the right side of either extreme for me.

    One other complaint about both cameras is that their aggressive winders have both ripped the film from the canister, causing me to fog the final frames of several rolls when I opened the backs. The EOS 3 is the bigger offender, pulling the film from the grip of a piece of Gorilla brand duct tape that I used to secure the film to the spool. I guess that I need to overlap the tape onto the film by a bit more than the half inch that I thought was sufficient.

    My final thoughts are that they are both acceptable, and in my experience, nearly identical performers. Each has pros and cons and if I didn't have a hoarder's personality, I'd get the 1V and decide which of the three of them makes me the happiest and get rid of the other two. As it is, I'll probably get the 1V to see if it performs any better in low light and I'll probably end up keeping all three. I paid too much for the Elan 7s at $225 shipped, in mint condition. I did ok on the EOS 3 at $200 shipped, in mint condition. I'd be really hard pressed to choose between the 2 but if I could only keep 1, it would probably be the EOS 3 because of the prestige, the theoretically greater longevity, and the slightly better low light performance.
     
  3. GDN

    GDN Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Messages:
    109
    Location:
    South Island, NZ
    Equipment:
    A little Canon stuff
    Sorry, but I really can't add anything to help you out. But I do find your words interesting.

    I sort of fell into Canon by pure chance. I am and still are, a Pentax shooter, first film, and then digital for a long time now. Due to a little frustration with what Pentax does not not so well.....AF. I took a chance on another brand, so I ended up with a used 7D. Since buying it, less than a year ago. I have not really had the chance to use it. I could sit and complain about what I am not 100% happy with Pentax, so I thought sod it, I will run two systems. Not identical lens with both systems, but where one I think is better than the other. I do shot film both 35mm, and 120. So in 35mm format, I have K and EOS mount. She who must be obeyed, and myself moved countries. New jobs, I am doing part time study, and just trying to find my way around where we live is killing my time taking any pictures. Just by pure chance, I managed to pick up a used EOS 500, a 28-80, and 70-300 kit sort of lens for next to nothing about two months ago. I guess it was some form of a Canon promotion special back in the day. Like yourself, I actually like the film process with being able to show people prints. I am not saying film is better than digital, not at all. I do like the shoebox of prints for people to see.

    With this EOS 500, it is my first Canon film camera. For me, I brought it for the purpose of taking snap shots of where we go and what we do. More along the lines of being outside in bright light. All of the other film cameras that I own, are fully manual in the sense of button cells are for light metering, but the rest is all manual.

    The Canon. It is, well different. The AF is slow, and I think it has all of three focus points. Focus is not fast. It is made out of loads of plastic. So, it is light, and the two lens, are all plastic too. It is small, and fits in my hands with ease. There are no menu's or buttons all over the camera to get mixed up with, or learn how to use. So it is really simple to use. I like the viewfinder, mind you I guess that any 35mm viewfinder is going to be better than a aps-c viewfinder. I couldn't recommend it for what you are looking to do.

    One of the reasons I joined this forum is that I don't really know my way around the Canon lens set. I will end up upgrading the plastic 28-80, and 70-300 at some point. That is just going to happen. I can't really screw my NISI filter system on the front of these, and feel comfortable, they just don't feel strong enough. The 70-200 f2.8, or f4? Or 100-400? Or even a third party offering? Who knows. Once I get a little more time with the 7D, and the 500, I will start asking what peoples experience is with different lens.

    Let us know how you get on. I'm for one am interested.

    Gary
     
  4. Ctrout

    Ctrout New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Equipment:
    5D4, 7D2, Elan 7s, EOS 3, 100-400L2, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105L, 50mm 1.4
    Mamiya C33 Pro, Mamiya RB67 Pro S, 50mm Sekor C, 127mm Sekor C
    Nikonos V, 35mm f2.5
    and about 100 pounds of pentax M42, K, and M gear
    Thanks for your reply Gary. It really is important that we find equipment that not only does what we need it to do, but that makes us happy and feels good to use as well. I've had some pretty plastic lenses over the years and eventually, over time, upgraded into some pretty nice glass. Although these recent 35mm bodies haven't greatly impressed me, they will each do 95% of what I need. I enjoy using them both, and they make taking great pictures pretty easy. Using the equipment, especially new (to me) equipment, is a part of the process that I really enjoy.
     
  5. GDN

    GDN Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Messages:
    109
    Location:
    South Island, NZ
    Equipment:
    A little Canon stuff
    No worries.

    It is a world of frustration if you know what you are trying to achieve, and your equipment does not allow you to get what and where you want to be. Been there more than once.

    Just an idea. But would using a fast prime instead of a zoom help with your low light focusing issue? I know that they are not as convenient, but would a punt on something like the cheap 50mm f1.8 be worth a go? It would rule out the body as the problem.

    Regards

    Gary

    And I have just noticed that you have a 50mm 1.4 on your equipment list. How do you get on with this lens?
     
  6. Ctrout

    Ctrout New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Equipment:
    5D4, 7D2, Elan 7s, EOS 3, 100-400L2, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105L, 50mm 1.4
    Mamiya C33 Pro, Mamiya RB67 Pro S, 50mm Sekor C, 127mm Sekor C
    Nikonos V, 35mm f2.5
    and about 100 pounds of pentax M42, K, and M gear
    Right before I went to bed last night, I was doing some more piddling with these two cameras and used the 70-200 f2.8 L IS and found that they would both focus fairly reliably at EV 2. Then the thought hit me that since the 24-105 f4 L was hit or miss, and the 70-200 f2.8 was better, I should try the 50mm f1.4 to see what happens. Sadly, that lens has been out on loan to a friend for over a month now. I'll be actively working to get that back from him soon. Although it will require me to zoom with my feet, I think it is an excellent solution th my problem.
     
    GDN likes this.
  7. GDN

    GDN Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2018
    Messages:
    109
    Location:
    South Island, NZ
    Equipment:
    A little Canon stuff
    Excellent. I guess just see how you get on with the fast 50. If it works, maybe it is time to grab a couple of other fast primes to complement and achieve what you want.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Regards

    Gary
     
  8. Ctrout

    Ctrout New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2017
    Messages:
    19
    Equipment:
    5D4, 7D2, Elan 7s, EOS 3, 100-400L2, 70-200 2.8L IS, 24-105L, 50mm 1.4
    Mamiya C33 Pro, Mamiya RB67 Pro S, 50mm Sekor C, 127mm Sekor C
    Nikonos V, 35mm f2.5
    and about 100 pounds of pentax M42, K, and M gear
    Long story short, I did pick up my 1V a few weeks ago and after spending some time with all three cameras I discovered that there is nearly NO PERCEIVABLE DIFFERENCE in the low light performance of the AF systems in any of the three of these cameras (here's your caveat) when set up and used the way that I use them. As a result, I decided to keep the 7s for its ultra quiet shutter and light weight, and the 1V for its amazing features and ruggedness. As awesome as the EOS 3 is, I just can't justify keeping all three bodies.
     

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