The most cost effective professional digicam Canon has ever launched


Cameras are costly, and Canon isn’t any stranger to rising its costs when it sees match – the EOS 1D X Mark III flagship DSLR prices a whopping $6,500. However has it at all times been like this?

On this article, we’ll discover which Canon pro-grade cameras—beginning with the F-1 in 1971—price essentially the most and which had been surprisingly inexpensive.

A Transient Historical past of Canon

A duplicate of the unique Quannon digicam based mostly on Canon Leica’s designs. Photograph by Morio and licensed underneath CC BY-SA 4.0.

Canon was based as a digicam producer in 1933, and the corporate devoted its first fashions – the Quannon (and later the Hansa Canon) – to the Leica II, however failed to supply a professional-grade mannequin. was slower than the opening gate. That is to not say it wasn’t revolutionary—it was—however when Nikon launched the high-end F in 1959, Canon’s personal SLR, the CanonFlex, was no match.

In actual fact, to be honest to Canon, it was by no means designed to be a match. The corporate was extra thinking about constructing a enterprise, serving a wider vary of merchandise to a wider viewers; Briefly, the pro-grade mannequin was a small market in relation to the rising beginner market and will wait.

Canon’s CanonFlex was no match for the legendary Nikon F SLR. Photograph by Kevin Murray and licensed underneath CC BY-SA 4.0.

CanonFlex was nonetheless a superb digicam, constructed to a excessive customary, nevertheless it adopted an analogous trajectory to different producers, equivalent to Pentax and Minolta, in rolling out 35mm SLRs, however not essentially full methods. Canonflex got here armed with the R-mount, which morphed into the FL-mount in 1964, after which to the FD-mount in 1971 with the discharge of the F-1.

It was the discharge of the F-1 that was transformative for Canon: a high-quality physique supported by forward-thinking mounts and a full vary of equipment allowed them to compete with Nikon.

However what makes a digicam “pro-grade”? Merely put, this can be a digicam that may meet the wants of the hardest dealing with professionals and is subsequently constructed to the best requirements. Nonetheless, it additionally means that there’s a vary of equipment to fulfill each conceivable want and, particularly, lenses that ship best-in-class efficiency throughout the complete vary of focal lengths.

There have been 9 lenses accessible from day one when the Nikon F was launched and it grew quickly. For the digital digicam age, meaning they’re designed for fast taking pictures with quick auto-focus monitoring, glorious low gentle efficiency, and infrequently with portrait/panorama grips for mixed-mode taking pictures.

Evaluating Canon’s Professional-Grade Fashions

Canon launched the F-1 with a price ticket of 78,000, or about $678. Sadly, you may’t evaluate historic launch costs for simply two causes. First is the alternate price between currencies, which varies over time. Then the final improve within the value of the merchandise year-over-year (or inflation) has the impact that the $678 price ticket for the F-1 just isn’t akin to the 1D X!

Now which you could’t inform what a 1971 product is price at the moment, we will estimate it utilizing a standard value index. I chosen the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Client Value Index for All City Shoppers (1967)” as the best choice after which calculated 2020 equal costs for all Canon pro-grade fashions. For these, I’ve pulled out listing costs from a number of locations, together with Ken Rockwell and Wikipedia.

The chart beneath exhibits simply how inexpensive the F-1 was at $1,600 when it first got here out.

Canon Pro-Spec Prices Comparison
Launch dates and costs (in 2020 {dollars}) of Canon’s skilled grade cameras. Click on to enlarge.

For those who have a look at the pricing for Nikon’s pro-grade fashions, the F was launched in 1959 for $2,900 and the 1971 F2 for $3,500. Canon knew it had a competing product, but in addition that it needed to construct its personal shopper base. I nonetheless discover it odd that it went for the F designation relatively than differentiate itself from Nikon. The one factor weirder was the naming of its substitute (in 1981), the “new F-1”! It was additionally priced decrease at $1,800, in comparison with Nikon’s F3 at $3,700.

An outdated print advert saying Canon’s new F-1 SLR.

Canon flagship costs march upward

In fact, the large change got here with the discharge of the EOS system and EF-mount, which took nice benefit of Canon’s technical capabilities. The 1989 EOS-1V elevated in value to $2,600, the 1994 EOS-1N to $3,800, and the 2000 EOS-1v to $4,000, though Nikon’s 1996 F5 nonetheless prices lower than $5,000.

Nonetheless, it was the daybreak of the brand new millennium and the appearance of digital noticed Actual Value will increase. In actual fact, it is price saying that these — when it comes to cameras — had been celestial value hike!

When the 1D landed in 2001, it was priced at $8,000, which was $8,500 beneath Nikon’s D1. This pales compared to the 2002 1Ds, which got here in at $11,500 (once more, in 2020 {dollars}); The canon was accomplished rapidly, and boy did you need to pay for it. Nikon will not observe go well with for the following six years till the D3 lastly lands.

The 1DS line was the top of Canon’s vary when it comes to each options and value, however the pattern was on a downward pattern since its first look and eventual merger with the 1D line within the type of the 1D-X, the place we stabilized the value. lets see. $6,500 mark. It is also the value that Nikon has hit with the D6 (solely barely increased with the D5 and D4), which is why the Z9’s look at $5,500 is such a line within the sand—it marks an actual discount in costs which are well worth the value. now we have. By no means seen earlier than within the digital age.

Word that I’ve included the R5 on the plot above, though when it comes to options, value and, certainly, designation, it will not be thought of “pro-grade.” If the “R1” really lands in 2022, it will likely be tempting to see its specs, however maybe extra importantly, how it will likely be priced. Issue within the ongoing chip scarcity within the area and can make the yr eventful if nothing else.

So what is the most cost-effective pro-grade digicam Canon has launched? Undoubtedly the F-1, which was remarkably inexpensive for a interval when Canon tried to attract customers into its system and model. What’s stunning about Canon is that none of its digital fashions are “low-cost”—probably a results of cameras evolving from mechanical gadgets into high-tech imaging and computing gadgets.

Positive, Canon’s authentic 1D, 1DS fashions, and 1D X had been all costly, however each different digital mannequin has been nearer to the $6,000 mark. It is really a bit cheaper than what Nikon managed to supply earlier than the Z9. It stays to be seen how Canon will reply.


picture credit score: Canon F-1 Photograph by s58y and licensed underneath CC BY 2.0.



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