It was not until 2009 that Canon released the successor to the PowerShot S80. The PowerShot S90 featured a much slimmer design than the PowerShot S80, but, as the Canon Museum states, was a “conceptual continuation” of its predecessor, featuring a wide zoom lens and convenient manual controls. It also introduced a feature for which I was overjoyed: RAW files.
A unique addition on the PowerShot S90 was the control ring which encircles the lens barrel. This ring can have its function assigned in software and its use varies by camera mode. The control ring continues in a new form on the Canon EOS M5 as a multifunction dial and selection button combination.
I never had a compact point-shoot film camera for casual use. I always wanted full manual control, and if I needed a really compact camera (say for backpacking) I used the Rollei 35 B I inherited from my dad.
In the digital era my dad had a whole string of Canon Digital ELPH cameras. Though very compact I could never bring myself to buy one myself. The larger Canon PowerShot G-series cameras of the time on the other hand seemed like the worst of both worlds — smaller than a DSLR, but still not pocketable and without the ability to change lenses.
In 2005 I discovered Canon’s PowerShot Sxx series of advanced compact cameras. The series has always feature cameras slightly larger than the tiny compacts, but with better quality wide angle zoom lenses, and, of prime importance to me, full manual control.
I purchased the PowerShot S80 (released in 2005) as a compact travel and nature photography camera. It joined me on a lot of adventures and captured a lot of shots rivalling what others were creating with DSLRs. The one drawback of the PowerShot S80 was the lack of RAW files.
The first digital camera I used was the Apple QuickTake 100 that we had in the graphics department of my high school. The first real modern digital camera that I used was my dad’s Nikon Coolpix 950 (possible the 990). This was an innovative camera with a unique swivel body/lens design. Other than horrible chromatic aberration, the image quality of this camera was quite good at the time. Good enough that, in combination with a Nikon Speedlight SB-28DX on a flash bracket, I was able to use it for some of my first commercial digital photography contracts. (The build of Nikon’s Speedlight flashes of the time was superior to Canon’s Speedlites — I quite enjoyed the Nikon kit.)
It was obvious that digital photography was about to eclipse film, so in 2004 I acquired my dad’s not very old Canon EOS 10D DSLR for about $1000 to use with my Canon EF lenses (my dad upgraded to the Canon EOS 20D).
While writing the first edition of this article I mentioned the missing Nikon Coolpix 950/990 to my sister. We used to live together and somehow she ended up with the Nikon when she moved out. She had taken a box of old cameras to the thrift store just a couple of weeks prior. I visited the store, but among the several digital compacts and Nikon DSLRs I did not find the Coolpix 950/990. All I have left is the charger.
In late 2106, Canon released the Canon EOS M5 addressing a long-standing feature request in the M-series — a built-in EVF. The EOS M5 also adds dual-pixel phase-detection auto-focus (DPAF) which considerably improves AF speed, particularly for adapted EF-mount lenses.
Overall the EOS M5 body has a more DSLR-like feel than it’s predecessors, with a larger body, more pronounced grip, additional control dials, and a more customizable physical interface. And yet, the body retains the compactness and portability that is the hallmark off the line.
Along with the EOS M5 body I added the Canon EF-M 18-150 f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens (released 2016) to my suite of EF-M lenses. I also added a Tamron SP AF 150-600mm f/5.0-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens to my collection. This is the first non-Canon professional lens that I have purchased. Tamron (and Sigma) are currently making amazing lenses with performance rivalling the major camera manufacturers and with much lower prices. The Tamron 150-600mm is surprisingly hand-holdable mounted on the EOS M5, though it becomes a bit unbalanced at full 600mm extension (that is more a function of the centre of gravity being so far in front my lens holding hand).
The eye-level viewfinder of the EOS M5 coupled with the long telephoto lens required a larger, more stable tripod, so I acquired the beautifully light Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 carbon-fibre legs.
The Canon EOS M3 (released 2015) is my second camera in the M-series. (The EOS M2 was never released in North America and featured modest improvements over the original firmware updated EOS M.)
The M3 features a 24 megapixel sensor, dedicated exposure compensation dial, larger grip, an optional hot-shoe mounted EVF, and more DSLR-like handling. The body is larger than the original M, but still compact.
Focussing and overall speed are improved in the M3, though continuous shoot is stilled maxed out at 4.2 frames per second (much worse in Servo AF mode).
I quite enjoy shooting with the M3. Having to attach or remove the EVF is a bit of a pain. However, I really appreciate the tilting function of the EVF, especially when working on a compact tripod, or shooting from low angles.
With the M3 I added the EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM zoom lens (released 2014) to my collection.
In 2015 my family moved to a new house. Desiring to photographically document the interiors of both the old house and the new house, I added two Canon Speedlite 6OOEX-RT flashes and a compact stand set to my collection. The radio transmission (RT) multi-flash setup has many advantages over the old optical transmission system, especially when line of sight is a concern. I paired the new Speedlites with a compact stand and umbrella kit from Photo Republic and on-flash modifiers by Roque Flash.
When Canon introduced its first compact mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC), the EOS M, in 2012 I was instantly intrigued. The compact body and new EF-M mount lenses promised DSLR performance without the bulk.
I always loved the speed, usability, and quality of my SLR and DSLR cameras, but never enjoyed the bulk. Too often I would choose not to carry a camera anytime space and weight were a premium (travelling, backpacking, canoe tripping — you know, all those times one might want to record some photographs). For many years, if I did carry a camera, it was usually in the form of an iPhone, or a compact digital camera.
The EOS M body is not much bigger than the S90 or S110 I was using at the time. It also features a touch screen that I had grown accustomed to via the iPhone. While many reviewers and would-be buyers bemoaned the EOS M’s lack of electronic viewfinder, I had no problems shooting with just the fixed rear screen.
The EF-M lenses introduced with the EOS M are compact and of sufficient quality. I could also use my Canon EF lenses via the EF-EOS M adapter.
The biggest downside of the EOS M was its glacial focusing speed, especially with adapted lenses. This was fixed to some degree by a firmware update that sped up focusing with EF lenses by about 50%.
I purchased the EOS M in a kit with the EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM standard zoom lens (released 2012). I also purchased the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM pancake lens (released 2012), and EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM ultra-wide zoom lens (released 2013). Additionally, during the time I was most actively using the EOS M, I added the Canon EF 85m f/1.8 USM (released 1992) and EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM (released 2011) lenses to my collection.
The EOS M lacks a built-in flash but was announced with the Canon Speedlite 90EX compact flash. I almost never use the 90 EX as an on-camera flash by itself, but it can work as a hot-shoe mounted optical wireless master controller for other Canon Speedlites, the mode in which I usually use it. All flash settings, including slave flash settings, are configured on the camera touchscreen in a very intuitive UI. At half the price of the Canon ST-E3-RT Speedlite Transmitter the Speedlite 90EX is an attractive option for optical wireless multi-flash setups.
The EOS-M series reignited in me a passion for photography.
I replaced my aging Canon EOS 10D in early 2009 with a not much newer but much better used Canon EOS 30D (released in 2006). I bought the EOS 30D with vertical battery grip from a photographer co-worker for $600.
I usually put more emphasis on usability than on pure specs, but the EOS 30D was a very nice upgrade over the EOS 10D: 30% larger sensor (8.2 vs. 6.3 megapixels), larger viewfinder, 9 vs. 7 AF points, 1/8000 vs. 1/4000 second shutter, E-TTL II vs. E-TTL auto-flash, 5 vs. 3 frames per second, 11 vs. 9 RAW shot buffer, 2.5″ vs. 1.8″ LCD screen (38% larger), 230,000 vs. 118,000 pixel screen (95% increase), 0.15 vs. 1 second startup time. The EOS 30D accepts the same batteries as the EOS 10D, which is always an important upgrade consideration.
During my stint with the 30D I added to my collection the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM zoom lens (released 2005). That was my first image stabilized lens and longest focal length for a long time. I also purchased the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro. This is a sharp lens for general close-ups too and I use it a lot for object and still-life photography.
I used the EOS 30D extensively until 2012 when I replaced it with my first mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC), the diminutive Canon EOS M.
The mid-2000’s are to be recalled as the years of the megapixel wars. Camera manufacturers iterated annually, releasing bodies with higher resolution sensors but not many new features.
I acquired my first DSLR body, the Canon EOS 10D and vertical battery grip (released in 2003) from my dad when he upgraded to the newer EOS 20D. The EOS 10D was only a year old and in pristine condition.
With the EOS 10D I also acquired a Canon EF 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 USM II lens (released 2000). I used that lens a lot as a compact backpacking and hiking lens. The first copy took a dip in the Pacific Ocean during a sea kayaking trip in the Broken Group Islands (better that lens than my EF 16-35 f/2.8 L which I was switching to). I replaced the destroyed lens with a second copy which still sees occasional use.
During my time with the EOS 10D, to effectively complete the transition to digital photography I decommissioned my basement darkroom and purchased an Epson Stylus Photo 2200 (released 2002) 7-colour, pigment based, archival quality, 13″-wide inkjet printer. After almost 14 years I am still using this printer, which is an amazingly long life span for an inkjet. Almost all of my proofing and printing is done on Moab Entrada Bright paper. (I went on a rafting trip on the Colorado river with Moab Paper Co. in 2004, and have been using their products ever since). The Stylus Photo 2200 still produces beautiful prints, though I have been contemplating upgrading to the newly announced Epson SureColor P5000 17″-wide, 10-colour printer.
Another camera from my dad. Manufactured sometime between 1976 and 1978 this tiny 35mm camera has been used primarily as a backpacking and back-country skiing camera during the film era, first by my dad and, starting in the late 1980s, by myself. (The original Rollie 35 introduced in 1966 was the smallest 35mm camera ever produced at the time.)
It is really light camera and nice to use if a bit finicky (focusing is never easy on such decoupled viewfinder cameras).
The Minolta SR-T 101 is a TTL metering manual exposure body produced between 1966 and about s copy belonged to my grandfather (father of my mother). I received it from my aunt and uncle after my grandfather passed away. My grandfather had a large collection of cameras (and a lot of other things) and no one is sure wether or not he actually used this camera, or just picked it up at flee market. When the family was cleaning out his house they asked if I wanted anything, and I requested a camera. There was no lens attached to the body, but I am sure I could easily find a lens on eBay.
I recall that when I was a kid my grandfather always had a camera around his neck when he took us to the Colorado state fair, the Albuquerque balloon festival, some air show (he was a pilot in WWII), or anywhere else we happened to go. This camera and attached strap certainly look like something he would have been carrying. For my grandfather, photography was always a hobby and I have seen many nice photographs that he took of my grandmother as a young woman and my mother and her siblings growing up.