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Comparison - the EOS 1, 1N, 3 and 1V.

Copyright © 2003 NK Guy.

I compiled this table to make it easier people to compare and contrast the higher-end EOS film cameras. However, I now have the Complete EOS Lookup Page which contains all this information and more and renders this page pretty well obsolete. I’m going to leave this page here, but I do recommend checking out the database if for no other reason than it contains data on all the latest products. I also recommend my online dictionary if you’re unfamiliar with any of the terms or acronyms used.

Comparison table:

Year introduced 1989 1994 1998 2000
Official marketing position Top of line Top of line Second from top of line Top of line
Product status Discontinued Discontinued Current Current
Size 161x107x72mm 161x107x72mm 161x119x71mm 161x121x71mm
Weight 850g 855g 780g 945g
Body type Plastic shell over diecast aluminium frame, anti-slip fake leather Plastic shell over diecast aluminium frame, anti-slip fake leather Plastic shell over diecast aluminium frame, anti-slip fake leather on handgrip only Magnesium alloy shell over diecast aluminium frame, anti-slip fake leather
Weatherproofing Basic Good Good Extensive (1)
Autofocus Pretty fast Very fast Faster still Fastest
Autofocus points 1 5, in row 45 in ellipse 45 in ellipse
Cross sensors 1 1 7 7
AF limit of linear sensors (2) f/5.6 f/5.6 f/8 f/8
High precision limit of cross sensor(s) (2) f/2.8 f/2.8 f/2.8 except centre sensor which is f/4 f/2.8 except centre sensor which is f/4
AF working range 1 to 18 EV 0 to 18 EV 0 to 18 EV 0 to 18 EV
Rotary magnet (low power) shutter No No Yes Yes
Viewfinder coverage 100% 100% 97% 100%
Eye relief 20mm 20mm 19.5mm 20mm
Dioptric correction (3) Yes Yes No Yes
Eyepiece shutter No Yes No Yes
Mirror blackout time Unknown 140ms 105ms 87ms
Mirror lockup No Yes Yes Yes
Active mirror control (4) No No No Yes
Multi-spot metering No No Yes Yes
Partial metering size 5.8% 9% 8.5% 8.5%
Spot metering size 2.3% (fine) or 5.8% 2.3% (fine) or 3.5% 2.4% 2.4%
Evaluative metering zones 6 16 21 21
Exposure compensation increments 1/3 stop 1/3 or 1/2 stop (custom function 6) 1/3 or 1/2 stop (custom function 6) 1/3 or 1/2 stop (custom function 6)
E-TTL flash including wireless E-TTL ratio support No No Yes Yes
FP flash No Can sort of be added (5) Yes Yes
Maximum X-sync 1/250 sec 1/250 sec 1/200 sec 1/250 sec
Flash exposure compensation control on body No (6) Yes Yes Yes
Second-curtain sync control on body No (6) Yes Yes Yes
Flash exposure compensation display in viewfinder No Yes Yes Yes
Personal functions (7) No No No Yes
Computer interface for recording shooting data (8) No No No Yes
Data printing on film leader (frame zero) (8) No No No Yes
Eye-control focus No No Yes No
Remote release connector type (9) T3 T3 N3 N3
Maximum framerate, camera alone 2.5 fps 3 fps 4.3 fps 3 fps (AI servo) or 3.5 fps
Maximum framerate with booster 5.5 fps 6 fps 7 fps 9 fps (AI servo) or 10 fps
Can fog high-speed infrared film (10) No No Yes No

Camera variants:

Note that a number of variants of these cameras were and are sold.

The 1 HS was an EOS 1 with a Power Drive Booster E1 added on.

The 1N HS was a 1N with the Power Drive Booster E1 attached to it. The 1N DP was a 1N with the Battery Pack BP-E1 attached.

The 1N RS was significantly different, however. It was a 1N with a pellicle (fixed) mirror system, enabling it to shoot at 10 fps at all times. The camera also has no mirror blackout period since its mirror doesn’t flip up. However the fixed mirror reduces the amount of light reaching the film and the viewfinder is also dimmer.

The EOS 1V is also available as the EOS 1V HS, which is a 1V with the Power Booster E2 added on. Since it’s such a fast camera already Canon elected not to build a pellicle mirror version.


All four cameras are large, noisy, heavy and expensive devices. And for all that you get excellent ergonomic handling, top-notch performance (in terms of film transport, AF speed and metering), a wide range of features and tremendously rugged cases. In its continual effort to one-up Nikon, Canon have expended a lot of energy developing a strong range of cameras relied upon by demanding professional photographers.

Users of low to midrange EOS cameras will find these cameras rather different from what they’re used to. None of them have built-in flash units, icon (PIC) modes or AF assist lights. The user interface is button based - these cameras do not have rotating top-deck mode dials for switching metering modes. (though they all have main dials located next to the shutter release) They also have more swappable options, such as interchangeable backs and viewfinder screens.

EOS 1:

The first serious professional camera in Canon’s EOS lineup, the EOS 1 was the first model to demonstrate the tremendous potential of the EOS line. Sturdy and rugged, the 1 is somewhat lacking in features by today’s standards. It only has one autofocus point, it lacks FEC controls, doesn’t support E-TTL and so on. However EOS 1 bodies can be readily found on the used market at quite low prices and still remain tough and reliable workhorses.


A huge step forward, and the camera that convinced a lot of professionals to switch to Canon from Nikon. The 1N is a significantly upgraded EOS 1 that still holds its own. The lack of E-TTL support is probably its major weakness from today’s point of view.

EOS 3:

The EOS 3 is an interesting camera. In theory it was a replacement for the A2/5 in Canon’s lineup as a semi-professional model but in reality it’s a giant step in functionality past the earlier model. In most respects it’s superior to the 1N, and packs a lot of technology. Its main drawbacks are its 97% viewfinder and 1/200 sec flash sync. It also has a famously noisy shutter and mirror mechanism.


Probably the most technologically sophisticated film camera ever built, though aficionados of Nikon’s F5 would obviously disagree. There’s really not much it can’t do, as modern film cameras go - the omission of ECF is about the only major point. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement, but how much Canon spend on upgrading their film-based camera line in the future, now that digital is huge, is still to be seen.


1: Weatherproofing:
The EOS 1V and its digital siblings, the 1D and 1Ds, are equipped with gaskets at every conceivable opening. Lens mounts also have ring-shaped gaskets which match Canon’s line of weatherproofed L series lenses. You can’t safely go swimming with this gear, but the seals do keep out a lot of rain and dust.

2: Limit of AF sensors:
The f/8 limit makes the EOS 3 and 1V considerably more useful with long telephoto lenses and teleconverters than the EOS 1 and 1N. Long telephotos with TCs (slower than f/5.6) wouldn’t autofocus with the older models. The sensor limit of the cross sensors is the f-stop at which the high-precision autofocus sensors switch from cross sensor mode to linear sensor mode. (ie: the cross sensors in these cameras require fast lenses to work in high-precision mode)

The 3 and 1V have 45 autofocus sensors, all of which can detect horizontal and diagonal lines at normal precision when used with a lens of f/8 or faster. However they also have 7 cross sensors capable of high-precision focussing. Of this group of 7, the central sensor retains high precision down to f/4 or faster and the remaining 6 cross sensors require f/2.8 or faster for high precision.

The 1N’s single cross sensor required f/2.8 or faster lenses for high precision and reverts to normal precision linear sensing with slower lenses. The camera’s remaining four linear sensors require f/5.6 or faster.

The EOS 1’s single sensor was a cross sensor which provided high precision with f/2.8 or faster lenses and normal precision linear sensing with f/5.6 or faster lenses.

3: Dioptric correction:
Canon weren’t able to cram both 45 ECF-controlled focus points and dioptric correction into the EOS 3 and so left the latter out. If you want dioptric correction you must clip an add-on lens to the viewfinder. As for the EOS 1, there appears to be a conflict between the dioptric compensation levels listed in the manual (-3 to +1 dioptres) and on the Canon Camera Museum Web site (-2 to +2 dioptres). I understand the former is correct and that the Camera Museum site is in error.

4: Active mirror control:
The EOS 1V has an electromechanical system which actively reduces mirror bounce. This system also shortens the mirror blackout time.

5: FP flash:
It’s possible to have limited FP mode flash support added to the EOS 1N by means of an extremely expensive reprogramming of the firmware by Canon.

6: EOS 1 flash controls:
The EOS 1 lacks on-board controls for flash exposure compensation and second-curtain sync. So if you want either of these two features you need to use an external flash unit (eg: the 430EZ, 540EZ) which have pushbutton controls for them.

7: Personal functions:
The EOS 1V supports personal functions, which are user-configurable options - sort of extended custom functions. Personal functions require the EOS Link program (see below) to be set.

8: EOS Link:
The EOS 1V supports EOS Link, which is a Macintosh and Windows software package and USB cable combination that allows shooting data to be trasnferred from the camera to a personal computer. Shooting data includes information such as focal length, aperture, shutter speed, etc. EOS Link also lets the computer alter the camera’s personal functions. The 1V records film roll number information to the film leader (frame zero) so that individual rolls can be linked to recorded data.

9: Remote release connector type:
Earlier EOS cameras use Canon’s proprietary T3 connector, which is an awkward and inconvenient plug design for wired remote shutter releases. While Canon standardized on simple non-locking three-pin 2.5mm submini stereo jacks for wired remote connectors they came up with the N3 connector for their higher-end cameras. These are again proprietary connectors and thus not available cheaply at electronics stores, but at least are less fiddly and annoying to use.

10: EOS cameras and high-speed infrared:
The question of whether these cameras work properly with infrared film is a complex one. I’ve written a whole other article on the subject.

The EOS 1 and 1N have mechanical film counters and so don’t fog infrared film. The EOS 3 has an IR counter and can fog the edge of high speed IR film. The EOS 1V uses an infrared counter, but Canon designed it in such a fashion that fogging of IR film does not occur.


Canon Camera Museum entry for the EOS 1 (note apparent error regarding dioptric compensation mentioned above):

Canon Camera Museum entry for the EOS 1N:

Canon Camera Museum entry for the EOS 3:

Canon Camera Museum entry for the EOS 1V:’s Canon reviews section, which has reviews of the 1N, 3 and 1V:


- NK Guy,

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