The Canon EOS 650 – “if it ain’t broke…”

Here is one of those cameras I acquired for pittance.

Long story short I purchased the EF 50mm f1.8 for a Canon EOS 620 I had bought from evilbay the previous day.

The seller of the EOS 620 suddenly decided to not send the camera and refund me without warning.  Disgruntled I contacted the seller of the EF 50mm f1.8 lens and requested to cancel but just by chance he had a couple of 650’s in storage (he only sold lenses for digital). He offered to send me them for as little as postage cost (£5) so snapped them up. £2.50 each? Bargain!

Receiving them I was surprised at the condition of the cameras (considering the 1987 vintage). Light seals were present,viewfinders clean,bodies scratch free and all fully functional. He was decent enough to throw in the original manual also.

So whats so special about the 620/650?

Well they were the first of a long line of Canon EOS (electro-optical-system) SLR cameras and pretty much the genesis of Canon DSLR’s you see today. You could say the 650/620 is the Adam & Eve of the EOS system. Additionally you can even use modern EOS lenses on these cameras due to how the system is designed to be future proof.

I just wanted a 35mm film camera with decent auto focus so cant go wrong with the EOS.

Ergonomically the 650’s operation is refreshingly simple that you would wonder why they over complicate cameras these days. If you have ever used a Canon DSLR before it will be second nature. There are some little differences…

You have this little knob by the viewfinder. This controls the following…


“L” is for off


“A” Is for on.


“Noise icon” is the same as on but beeps when you lock focus and obnoxiously beeps when the shutter speed is to slow for handheld.


“Green square” is for Full auto mode.

When you load a film with DX coding it will automatically know what ISO/ASA you have put in. But you can access the ISO button via a flip down rear window at the bottom of the camera if you want to change ISO…you can also access film rewind,af mode (continuous servo or one shot), self timer single exposure/continuous exposure and a battery check. In my opinion using continuous exposure seems pointless and expensive for film. But its there if you want it.


Aside from that you have all the same modes as modern Canon (albeit with no dedicated mode dial) you have the common M,P,TV,AV modes and all these can be accessed and changed by holding down the “mode” button and turning the “aperture” dial by the shutter button. Holding down the “exp.comp” button while turning the dial will give you…exposure compensation!

One thing that impressed me was the viewfinder…its bright,clear and HUGE! Its also uncluttered which makes it great for composing your frame. It has a single point focus square and basic aperture/shutter speed info with a green indicator to confirm focus.


Auto focus is nippy..i feel its just as fast as a 5D mk1..which for a camera from 1987 is really good indeed.

Considering this was the first generation of “EOS”  Canon  hit the ground running. Everything is laid out in the right place. Dare I say (to me) ergonomically perfect for photography.

To be honest I think over the years cameras have become over complicated. I own a Olympus EM5 Mkii and although fantastic has so much clutter over its body & the worst menus ever…if there ever was a digital camera that was just a optical viewfinder with just the necessary buttons laid out (much like the 650 here) I would want one.

It’s all down to that classic line “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”..yet it seems camera designers just cant put that pencil down and let it be.

Is there any cons? It is quite heavy..I could imaging it being a slog to carry around on a hot day but its no more than say a 5D.

Con number two is the batteries. The 650 runs on 2CR5 batteries..not a huge con as they’re still widely available but not as common as say AA’s etc

Batteries go into the side of the grip.


Last con is a quirk. If you have your settings on M,TV or AV and then use auto mode..flipping the dial back will default to P.

If you’re starting out or wanting to get into some 35mm film photography via a SLR with AF..there’s few superb cameras that you can get for a price of a pint (or two). The 650 (and 620) are ludicrously cheap and widely available. If you have Canon lenses already you got a great option here. Maybe i’m a bit biased because I got it so cheaply but I can’t praise the 650 enough.

Anyway i’ll leave you with some snaps taken with “poundland film” (AGFA VISTA PLUS 200) shot with the 50mm f1.8









2 thoughts on “The Canon EOS 650 – “if it ain’t broke…”

  1. you should try the Fuji X-series cameras. I love my x100T. It’s the only digital I use regularly. I have the x100s as backup for the T… There are just a few dials that do the things you want them to. Fixed 35 mm equivalent. Never worry about screwing around with lenses (with the x100 cameras). Check out the XT2 for some real retro goodness. And interchangeable lenses!


    1. Hi Dave I actually owned a nice black X100t…I decided to sell as I wanted video also (ive gone through a lot of cameras!)…still regretting selling it though! I cant justify the current hiked up prices for the x100t to buy another right now.


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