Main -> Photography -> Classic Cameras -> Canon EOS -> 600 Series [sitemap]

Created 24 July 2006 ... Updated 24 July 2006

Canon EOS 600 Series
The EOS 600 series was the first series of Canon autofocus cameras. They demanded a premium price at the time (1987) and were targeted at the more experienced, or at least wealthier amateur. At that time, autofocus was not an issue for professional photographers, everyone who took themselve seriously still focussed manually but the EOS 600 series started to change that. Compared to current cameras, autofocus was slow but it works and it works every time. This series became my favourite very quickly, especially because of the large built in grip and the strong metal body. It does need some brute force to break one, dropping it usually doesn't do it, a great thing compared to the later plastic bodys.

Not being too keen on a machine deciding where to place the focus on, I usually focus manually. But even then, usability is great. Have used this system for most of my commercial photography where medium format is not required.

Time line and model history
Information taken from the Canon Camera Museum Website
Introduced in March 1987
Canon's first EOS camera had the latest technologies including a super microcomputer and a Canon-developed BASIS sensor for high-precision AF. The EOS 650 boasted incomparable autofocusing. Each EF lens has its own optimum built-in motor for autofocusing, and only electronic signals are exchanged between the lens and camera body. It is an ideal AF system. Since there is no high-torque driving noise, autofocusing is quick. The high-precision Ultrasonic Motor (USM) was also developed successfully. EOS was the start of a new and unique series of AF SLR cameras.

Introduced in April 1989
This camera is the same as the EOS 600 but was made for the North American market.

Introduced in May 1987
Developed as the high-end version of the EOS 650, the EOS 620 has the following features not found in the 650: Shiftable program AE, autobracketing up to 5 stops in 1/2-stop increments, maximum of 9 multiple exposures, and uniform EL illumination (the world's first on a camera) of the external LCD panel.

Introduced in March 1987
This camera is a notch above the EOS 620 with faster AF speed. Like the EOS 620, the 630 QD has autobracketing up to 5 stops (1/2-stop increments), maximum of 9 multiple exposures, 6-zone evaluative metering, and 6.5% partial metering at the center.

In the AI Servo AF mode, the maximum shooting speed is 2.5 fps. In the One-Shot AF mode, the maximum is 5 fps. The body came in black or metallic gray. The price was the same for both colors.

Repairing a sticky shutter

One of the standard problems with the 600 series bodies is a sticky shutter. Some thing at the left hand bottom corner self destructs itself over the years leaving a thick, sticky spot on the left hand center of the shutter causing the shutter to only open partly and only exposing the film half, or not sometimes at all. You usually also hear that the exposure time is longer than should be.
The remedy is easy, clean the shutter carefully.
  1. switch off the camera
  2. take the lens of but don't put on the body cap
  3. switch on the camera
  4. wind the film back and take it out
  5. set the camera mode to manual and select a shutter speed of 1/60
  6. open the back of the camera to reach the film compartment
  7. look at the shutter curtain, when there is a sticky, oily patch on the left middle, you're probably victim of the sticky shutter syndrome, or will soon become a victim
  8. now press the shutter while holding the front of the camera up to at light source (window light or light bulb) looking from the back.
  9. when the shutter is very sticky, you will actually see the problems the camera has to open the shutter, it opens slower and not immediately after the shutter button is pressed
  10. cleaning the shutter is easy but be very careful as you might destroy the shutter curtain, which is irrepairable (not technically but economically)
  11. first clean the source of the sticky goo by taking a small piece of paper in the left hand, bottom corner of the shutter curtain, just parallel to the shutter curtain, and move it down and up again. When there's some think black oily stuff on the paper, repeat the process with a clean piece of paper until it stays clean.
  12. now take some Q-tips and drain the tips in some colourless alcohol. Dry them a little on clean paper so that the alcohol won't drip in the camera. Now clean the shutter curtain carefull, moving horizontally across the curtain, until the oil is gone. Make sure to use a clean Q-tip every time as not to merely move the oil around. Also make sure to clean between the curtain blades but be very very carefull.
  13. look through the front of the camera and carefully move the mirror up. When there is oil on the curtain blad on the front, clean it off with a clean Q-tip drained in alcohol, just as you did on the back.
  14. now look though the back of the camera, tripping the shutter. You should now see the shutter working properly again. When not, clean off any oil you might see. Be sure the alcohol is not in between the shutter curtain blades as it might stick again (alcohol plus oil).
  15. when you're at it, you might as well clean the outside of the camera as well with a bit of alcohol :o)

Be aware

Even though it should be possible to swap lenses even when the camera is switched on, I do not recommmend it. It could be coincidence but I've seen too many EOS lenses with broken electronics causing the auto focus or the aperture systems to fail. My 50mm lens actually stopped auto focussing directly after I took it off of a switched on camera. It could be coincidence but well, better to switch off the camera before taking a lens off or putting on a new lens.

All photos copyright of M. Koning 1997 - 2005

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