The most cost effective professional digicam Canon has ever launched

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Cameras are costly, and Canon is not any stranger to growing 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 probably the most and which have been surprisingly reasonably priced.

A Temporary Historical past of Canon

A duplicate of the unique Quannon digicam primarily based on Canon Leica’s designs. Photograph by Morio and licensed beneath 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 modern—it was—however when Nikon launched the high-end F in 1959, Canon’s personal SLR, the CanonFlex, was no match.

The truth is, to be truthful to Canon, it was by no means designed to be a match. The corporate was extra fascinated with 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 newbie market and will wait.

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

CanonFlex was nonetheless digicam, constructed to a excessive customary, nevertheless it adopted the same trajectory to different producers, corresponding 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. Nevertheless, 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 total vary of focal lengths.

There have been 9 lenses out there 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, wonderful low mild efficiency, and sometimes 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 possibly can’t examine historic launch costs for simply two causes. First is the trade charge between currencies, which varies over time. Then the final enhance within the worth of the merchandise year-over-year (or inflation) has the impact that the $678 price ticket for the F-1 just isn’t similar to the 1D X!

Now which you could’t inform what a 1971 product is value in the present day, we are able to estimate it utilizing a standard worth index. I chosen the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Client Worth 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 record costs from a number of locations, together with Ken Rockwell and Wikipedia.

The chart beneath reveals simply how reasonably priced 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.

In case you take 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 additionally that it needed to construct its personal client base. I nonetheless discover it odd that it went for the F designation fairly than differentiate itself from Nikon. The one factor more unusual 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 previous print advert asserting Canon’s new F-1 SLR.

Canon flagship costs march upward

After all, the massive 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 worth 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.

Nevertheless, it was the daybreak of the brand new millennium and the arrival of digital noticed Actual Worth will increase. The truth is, it is value saying that these — when it comes to cameras — have been celestial worth 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 shortly, and boy did it’s important to pay for it. Nikon will not observe go well with for the subsequent six years till the D3 lastly lands.

The 1DS line was the head of Canon’s vary when it comes to each options and worth, 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 worth. lets see. $6,500 mark. It is also the worth that Nikon has hit with the D6 (solely barely greater 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 definitely worth the worth. we have now. By no means seen earlier than within the digital age.

Be aware that I’ve included the R5 on the plot above, though when it comes to options, worth and, certainly, designation, it might not be thought of “pro-grade.” If the “R1” really lands in 2022, it is going to be tempting to see its specs, however maybe extra importantly, how it is going to 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 reasonably priced for a interval when Canon tried to attract shoppers into its system and model. What’s shocking about Canon is that none of its digital fashions are “low-cost”—probably a results of cameras evolving from mechanical units into high-tech imaging and computing units.

Certain, Canon’s authentic 1D, 1DS fashions, and 1D X have 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 beneath CC BY 2.0.

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