The most cost effective professional digital camera Canon has ever launched

Cameras are costly, and Canon is not 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 all the time 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 had been surprisingly reasonably priced.

A Transient Historical past of Canon

A duplicate of the unique Quannon digital camera based mostly on Canon Leica’s designs. Picture by Morio and licensed beneath CC BY-SA 4.0.

Canon was based as a digital camera producer in 1933, and the corporate devoted its first fashions – the Quannon (and later the Hansa Canon) – to the Leica II, however failed to provide 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 reality, to be honest to Canon, it was by no means designed to be a match. The corporate was extra concerned with constructing a enterprise, serving a wider vary of merchandise to a wider viewers; In brief, 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. Picture by Kevin Murray and licensed beneath CC BY-SA 4.0.

CanonFlex was nonetheless an excellent digital camera, constructed to a excessive customary, but it surely adopted an analogous trajectory to different producers, resembling Pentax and Minolta, in rolling out 35mm SLRs, however not essentially full techniques. 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 digital camera “pro-grade”? Merely put, it is a digital camera that may meet the wants of the hardest dealing with professionals and is due to this fact constructed to the best requirements. Nonetheless, it additionally means that there’s a vary of equipment to satisfy 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 digital camera age, meaning they’re designed for fast capturing with quick auto-focus monitoring, wonderful low gentle efficiency, and sometimes with portrait/panorama grips for mixed-mode capturing.

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 change charge between currencies, which varies over time. Then the overall improve within the worth of the merchandise year-over-year (or inflation) has the impact that the $678 price ticket for the F-1 will not be akin to the 1D X!

Now which you can’t inform what a 1971 product is price right now, we are able to estimate it utilizing a typical worth index. I chosen the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Shopper Value Index for All City Shoppers (1967)” as the most suitable choice after which calculated 2020 equal costs for all Canon pro-grade fashions. For these, I’ve pulled out checklist costs from a number of locations, together with Ken Rockwell and Wikipedia.

The chart beneath exhibits 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.

Should 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 in addition that it needed to construct its personal shopper base. I nonetheless discover it odd that it went for the F designation quite 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 outdated print advert asserting Canon’s new F-1 SLR.

Canon flagship costs march upward

After all, 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 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.

Nonetheless, it was the daybreak of the brand new millennium and the appearance of digital noticed Actual Value will increase. In reality, it is price saying that these — by way of cameras — had 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 a must to pay for it. Nikon will not observe swimsuit for the following six years till the D3 lastly lands.

The 1DS line was the top of Canon’s vary by way of 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 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 can be well worth the worth. we have now. By no means seen earlier than within the digital age.

Observe that I’ve included the R5 on the plot above, though by way of options, worth and, certainly, designation, it might not be thought of “pro-grade.” If the “R1” truly lands in 2022, will probably be tempting to see its specs, however maybe extra importantly, how will probably be priced. Issue within the ongoing chip scarcity within the area and can make the 12 months eventful if nothing else.

So what is the most cost-effective pro-grade digital camera 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 gadgets into high-tech imaging and computing gadgets.

Positive, Canon’s unique 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 truly 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 Picture by s58y and licensed beneath CC BY 2.0.

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