Canon EOS 3

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Canon Mount (FD/FL/EF) SLRs:

Canon EOS 3

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Canon EOS system was released in March of 1987 with the EOS 650. My own introduction was in 1989 when I bought an EOS 630. I owned/loved that camera until the spring of 1995 when my house in New Haven was broken into and it was stolen. I hope the camera is still of use to someone, because it was a fine unit.

In 2001, I was hired by Bowdoin College as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology. To congratulate myself on my first paying job, I bought myself a Canon EOS-3 which serves as one of my main professional-use cameras. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

The Canon EOS 3 is a semi-professional-grade film camera made by Canon Camera. It was first released in November of 1998 to rave reviews. Canon took the best features of their highly rated professional EOS 1n and put them into the EOS-3. They also added eye-controlled-focus (ECF) and 45 focus points. The EOS-3 has the same weatherproofing as the EOS-1n with rubber gasketting on switches and levers.

The EOS-3 has a top shooting rate of 4.3 fps by itself, and 7 fps using the PB-E2 power booster. This would mean that a 36-frame roll of film would be used up in just over 5 seconds. But the weight of the camera almost doubles from 780g to 1395 grams (with battery). Is it worth it? Not for me since my forearms aren't strong enough to carry this much weight.

Why get the professional EOS-1v instead of the EOS-3?

  • Bragging rights
  • Finder eye-piece shutter (for macro or "hail-mary" shots)
  • Even better sealed against dirt/water intrustion
  • Don't have to worry about inconsistent eye-control-focus (ECF)
  • Even faster frame rates
  • Won't fog the very bottom of IR film frames
  • Heavier
  • Bragging rights

Now that the EOS-1D Mark II is out, people who more money than brains have something else to worry about.


Pakon Camera? So... errr... why does my camera say "Pakon?" I travel in areas in Europe and Southeast Asia where having a brand-name camera is a liability. So all my working cameras are "Pakon" brand courtesy of a little sticker. Besides, Pakon cameras work just as well as their Canon or Nikon counterparts. For more pictures of my other Pakon brand cameras, see my Pakon FE and my Butakon M7.


Interesting quirks

I use my Canon with the Really Right Stuff Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release tripod mount on the bottom. I prefer the A/S style tripod mount. It's rock solid, lightweight, inobstrusive, safe, and has few moving parts to break.

I have the same RRS mount for the Canon EF 100mm USM lens as well as on my Mamiya RB 67 and Hasselblad 500cm. The interchangeable and extensible design of the A/S mount makes it a no-brainer for me. And the Really Right Stuff mounting plates are very well engineered. They're much better than any other ones on the market.

I own a few EF lenses: 24mm, 50mm, and 100mm primes and the 16-35mm f/2.8 L, 28-70mm f/2.8L, and the 28-135mm IS. This covers almost all of the possibilities for the type of ethnographic work that I do.

While in Japan over the summer (2003), I've been intrigued by all of the mount adaptors here. I bought an M42 mount adaptor, which will allow me to use my Pentax/Praktica M42 lenses (including the stellar 50mm f/1.4 SMC Super-Takumar) on my EOS. I'm thinking of also getting the Contax/Yashica adaptor (Zeiss lenses!) and Leica R adaptor (Summicrons!), if my checkbook will allow it.

Although I've been waiting for a while for the Next Great Thing, I decided to go ahead and buy the Canon EOS 10D. My -3 hasn't been seeing much use since getting the Leica M7, it'll get even less use with the 10D in the stable. I thought about selling it, but once every year there is an assignment that needs a film SLR.

Technical Details

Camera Name
Canon, Inc.
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
Focusing System

Single lens reflex
0.72x magnification
97% viewfinder coverage

Lens Mount

Canon EF mount


Vertical focal plane shutter (stainless steel)
30 sec - 1/8000 sec + B & X (1/200sec)

Metering System

Built in 21-zone TTL matrix/spot/center-weighted meter
EV 0~20


External hot shoe
PC cable connector on left side
1/200 sec X flash sync

Film type

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ISO 6-6400 manual
ISO 25-5000 DX

Battery type
1 x 2CR5 lithium battery
Dimensions and weight

Body: 161x119.2x70.8mm, 780g (excluding lithium battery)

Retail price

¥185,000 (body only; 1998)



My Canon EF Lens Collection
24mm, 50mm, 100mm,
16-35mm, 28-70mm, 28-135mm



Canon EOS System Compatible Flashes (professional models)

Camera Name
550EX 580EX EF-500 54 MZ3
Canon Sigma Metz
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
  2004.10~ 2000-  
Guide Number
28m @ 24mm
55m @ 105mm

15m @ 14mm
28m @ 24mm
42m @ 50mm
58m @ 105mm

30m @ 28mm
50m @ 105mm
40m @ 50mm
54m @ 105mm
Flash Head
Swivel / bounce
Physical connector
Hot Shoe
Flash-Camera Communication




(through SCA-3102 module)
High Speed Sync
Angle of Coverage
24-105mm automatic
17 mm diffuser
24-105mm automatic
14mm diffuser
reflector panel
(automatic zoom compensation for digital bodies (20Dand 1DMkII only))
28-105mm automatic
17 mm diffuser
24-105mm equivalent
20mm w/ diffuser
Manual Power
    1/1 to 1/128 1/1 to 1/256 (25 levels)
Recycle Time
0.1 - 8 sec (alkaline) 0.1 - 6 sec (alkaline) ~6 sec (alkaline) 6 sec. w/ alkaline AAs
Number of Flashes
(Full Power)
100-700 (alkaline AAs)
~220 (alkaline) 180 alkaline
60 NiCad
Battery type

4 x AA (alkaline; NiCD; NiMH; Lithium)

Dimensions and weight
80W x 138H x 112D mm
405g. (no batteries)
76W x 134H x 114D mm
375g. (no batteries)
76W x 138H x 116D mm
320g. (no batteries)
75 x 125 x 108mm
480 g
Retail price
      $350 new (flash)
$79.95 new (SCA 3102 module)



About Canon

Canon started out its life as Seiki Kohgaku Kenkyuujo (Precision Optical Research Company). Its first goal was to produce domestic inexpensive Leica clones, and it released the Kwanon, its first camera in 1934. Interestingly, they used Nikon lenses since Nikon was already established as an optical lens manufacturer and was not making any of its own camera bodies at that time. Canon soon gained the ability to make their own lenses and never looked back. Nikon also went on to produce some reasonably popular cameras of its own as well.

The name 'Canon' comes from the Buddhist deity Kwanon and early Canon cameras were actually spelled 'Kwanon' and the lenses were named 'Kyasapa' after another deity.

Side note: Canon is my favorite Japanese company along with Honda. I actually interned for Canon Japan (ok, Canon Sales Japan, a part of the Canon keiretsu) during a summer in college and loved my coworkers to death. They keep coming out with innovations that take your breath away.


On the Net

Japanese Pages:

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