Notes on the Canon EOS
Elan 7. (Elan 7E, EOS 30/33, EOS 7)
© 2002 NK Guy
some commentary on the Canon EOS Elan 7 camera. I dont own this camera,
so my comments are based purely on occasional use of the product rather than
extensive day-in day-out use - just like a typical magazine review.
Elan 7, aimed at advanced amateurs, is the North American
version of the EOS
33 and was introduced in 2000. Canons EOS product lineup currently
looks like this, from most expensive to cheapest:
1v > 3 > 30/Elan 7*> 300/Rebel 2000 > 3000/88
The Elan 7
is identical to the 33, only it was given a name and not a number in North
America for marketing reasons. There was an original Elan (EOS 100) and an
Elan II (EOS 50) but no Elans 3 through 6 - the 7 is just marketing
silliness, presumably meant to reflect the 7 point AF system.
The Elan 7E
is the same camera with eye control, sold as the EOS 30 elsewhere. In Japan
the camera is sold only with eye control and, oddly enough, marketed under
the EOS 7 name. Very strange, as it precludes Canon from using the name for
a future 7 series camera. It also implies that the camera is in a higher product
tier than it actually is. Anyway. Heres the full product matrix:
of the world
Elan 7E Date
clear whether there is a non ECF version of the camera with date printing
available - it appears not. Ill refer to the camera in this document
as the Elan 7/30, since its easier than writing out Elan 7(E)/EOS
30/33/7 or whatever. As far as I know there are no technical differences
between the North American, Japanese and international versions of the camera.
The Elan 7/30
is not a technological breakthrough from the point of view of introducing
new features. In fact, the pushbutton cursor keys on the rear control dial
are about the only new design feature. Instead, the camera is a sensible evolutionary
package containing most of the features of previous EOS cameras that advanced
amateur photographers look for, all housed in a sturdy and attractive shell.
I was quite
interested in this camera when it was announced - it really sounded like the
perfect camera for non-professionals, including all the basic features. Sadly,
it turned out to be a disappointment for me. The Elan 7/30 is a very good
camera for most people - a feature-packed upgrade from its predecessor, the
EOS 50/50E/55/Elan II/Elan IIE - but Canon made certain cost-cutting and marketing
decisions which limit its appeal to me.
Why? Well, I
have a variety of photographic interests, but three particular priorities
of mine are infrared photography, low-light photography and occasional use
of old manual-focus lenses. The Elan 7/30 is terrible at all of these in ways
that its predecessors, the Elan/100 and the Elan II/50/55, largely were not.
(the one exception being IR compatibility - all three models have problems
in this area) Of course, if your particular photographic interests dont
cover those three areas then those three deficiencies probably wont
this is more of a general handwaving gripe, the Elan 7/30 just seems... unimaginative.
It does everything its predecessors did and a little more. It looks very nice.
But compare the camera to the remarkable Minolta Dynax/Maxxum
7, and the 7/30 really comes up short. Admittedly the Minolta product
is somewhat more expensive, but it also clearly represents camera designers
thinking hard about the ways in which computerized automation can add unique
functionality to a camera design.
Stuff I like about the
The vast majority
of my complaints about the original
Elan/EOS 100 are rectified in the Elan 7/30, which is fabulous.
a 35 zone metering system, support for E-TTL and FP mode flash, multiple (7)
focussing points, manual metering mode simulated match needle scale, readily
available battery grip that takes both AA and lithium cells and replicates
the shutter release, support for the famous custom function 4 (permitting
AF control by a rear button), support for both wired and wireless shutter
releases, depth of field preview button, flash exposure compensation settings
affect both internal and external flash units, a leader-out custom function,
side-style mode dial lock and film plane mark.
Wow. So far
its sounding like the perfect camera! Here are some details.
- The basic feature
set is very complete. All the usual metering modes - manual, full auto, time
and aperture priority. Built-in flash, fine for fill flash when you dont
feel like lugging around a big external flash gun. Second-curtain shutter
sync. Lots of custom functions. Plus piles of other stuff, like the usual
idiot modes (portrait, landscape, macro, sports, night), auto exposure bracketing,
depth of field exposure mode, multiple exposure settings, AI Servo
focus tracking, etc. Suffice to say that Canon has all the basics covered.
35-zone metering system.
- Supports E-TTL
and FP mode flash. Also supports the latest Canon flash features - wireless
flash ratios and modelling flash.
- 7 widely-spaced
focussing points. You can select these points by using the rear-panel cursor
keys or, if you have an ECF version of the camera, by looking at the appropriate
- Rear quick
control dial. Its great to be able to be in manual mode and adjust the
aperture and shutter speed values with one hand - thumb for the back dial
and index finger for the top dial. You can also use the dial for program shifting.
The Elan 7/30 adds a new feature to the dial as well - small pushbutton cursor
keys that can used to select the focussing points manually.
- Its very
quiet. At least for an SLR. Canon claims, in fact, that the Elan 7/30 is the
quietest SLR theyve built. Im not sure about this myself - the
Elan 7/30 seems pretty quiet, but it also has a distracting higher-frequency
mirror-click noise than the original Elan/100, which was the previous record-holder
for quiet cameras. Still, the Elan 7/30 is very quiet compared to deafening
tanks like the EOS 3. It is not, however, silent, no matter what Canons
promotional material may claim.
I like quiet cameras. I suppose noisy cameras are good at impressing people
with their solid clunk sound, but I really dont find that personally
interesting. The only advantage I can think of for a noisy camera is in fashion
photography, because apparently models are familiar with changing poses when
they hear the camera click.
- The Elan 7E,
EOS 30 and EOS 7 support Canons eye-control system, ECF. I havent
used it enough to offer opinions on it, but views tend to be in two camps
on this one. Either its a hugely useful system or its not. These
views tend to be based around whether ECF is capable of reading your particular
eyeball reliably or not.
- Manual metering
mode has a simulated match-needle scale.
- Optional battery
grip BP-300 which can contain either four AA cells or two lithium CR123A cells.
The grip also has AE lock and shutter release buttons, with a separate switch
to disable the duplicate controls to avoid accidental triggering. The grip
also has a tripod mount, though offset from the lens axis. Unfortunately it
lacks a second control dial.
- Support for
the famous Custom Function 4. This lets you move autofocus control to a rear
button rather than relying on the shutter release halfway push.
- Support for
both wired and wireless remotes. The wired RS-60E3 remote uses the small phono
jack, not the expensive T3 and N3 sockets employed by the higher-end EOS models.
(I know some people think these sockets are a good thing, particularly the
newer locking version, but being a geek Id prefer to have a cheap phono
plug thats open to inexpensive hacking)
The wireless is the wonderful RC-1 remote - compact and handy, with both immediate
and 2-second delay releases. In bulb mode you can press the RC-1 button once
to open the shutter and once again to close it, and since its wireless
you arent bumping the camera.
- Built-in dioptric
adjustment. Very cool. If you wear glasses you can adjust the viewfinder to
compensate, then look through the finder without your glasses.
depth of field preview button, located near the lens mount. The same button
also triggers the modelling flash.
- There is a
custom function supporting leader-out on film rewind.
- The mode dial
has a side-mounted release lock which is hopefully less vulnerable to the
breakage problem suffered by the EOS 5/A2 and Elan/100.
- For a non-pro
camera, it seems quite sturdy. The top shell is made of textured aluminum,
which gives it a solid quality feel (particularly compared to its predecessors),
but the inner shell is still polycarbonate plastic. It has a steel lens mount,
not plastic (polycarbonate) like the low-end Canons.
Keep in mind, however, that since the mount is attached to a plastic frame
its not as sturdy as a pro EOS camera thats metal all the way
through. The key advantage of metal mounts is that theyre superior to
plastic in terms of wear resistance, which is important if you change lenses
- Its an
excellent size - just slightly smaller than the Elan II, and definitely sleeker.
A bit big for a lot of occasions, perhaps, since people tend to get apprehensive
when they see a large camera looming towards them (compared to a typical consumer
camera, its fairly big. Compared to a pro camera its small) and
tend to associate big camera with professional photographer. So its
not that great for casual snapshots, even though its a bit smaller than
its predecessors - the Elan/100 and the Elan II/50. But neither is it a monstrously
heavy solid metal beast like an EOS 1 or 3. It feels solid in the hand; good
heft. Like all cameras these days its designed for right-handed people,
but frankly left-handed users havent got much choice in that regard.
Physically the Elan 7/30 is much more rectangular and blockier than the rounded
early 90s EOS cameras - Canon seem to have decided that the Luigi Colani curved
look is over and are now going back to more sharp-edged lines, starting with
the EOS 3.
- Mirror lockup,
enabled by a custom function. Unlike with previous Elan cameras its
not mirror prefire - its true electrically-controlled lockup, activated
by pushing the shutter release once. Push once more to take the photo. However,
its not manual mirror lockup like on an old manual camera - you cant
lock the mirror indefinitely.
- Flash sync
of up to 1/125, and since its a type A camera you can go as high as
1/4000 sec in FP mode if you use an external E-TTL compatible flash unit.
- AE lock button
on the back, by your right thumb. If youre used to older EOS cameras
such as the 10/10s you should note that the selection point button and lock
button positions are reversed.
a film plane mark printed on the top deck.
- You can switch
between the three available metering methods - evaluative, partial and centre-weighted
averaging - as you like. For the record, the Elan 7/30 uses the same less
than entirely intuitive iconic system for identifying the various meter modes
as the old T90. Evaluative metering appears as [(*)] in the LCD,
partial metering appears as [( )] and centre-weighted average
metering appears as [ ]. Unfortunately this information
is not displayed in the viewfinder - just the top-deck LCD. Also, you have
to press a rear-panel button and rotate the command dial to switch modes,
unlike the dedicated lever used by the Elan II/50, so its a nuisance
changing metering patterns in the dark.
- Whether you
set the shutter speed value using Tv mode or M mode or the aperture value
using Av mode or M mode, the Elan 7/30 remembers the values, even when turned
off. It appears to store the two values as two variables. (ie: the M mode
settings are not retained independently of the Av and Tv mode settings) This
is in contrast to older cameras like the 10/10s which stupidly always forget
your settings when you go back to them.
fast 4 frames per second shooting speed. (3.5 frames in AI Servo mode)
Stuff I dont like
about the Elan 7/30.
As noted in
my introduction, the camera is an excellent product with five crippling limitations,
from my point of view and in terms of my needs as a photographer. And theyre
really a shame because the Elan 7/30s predecessors, the original Elan/100
and Elan II/50/55 did not suffer from most of them. (they only have
limitation 3 - incompatibility with HIE film - in common)
In several important
(to me) regards, therefore, the newer camera represents a step back in quality
and functionality. I think this is really unfortunate.
- Serious limitation
1: lousy low-light autofocussing performance.
I have no idea why Canon decided to take this disappointing cost-saving measure.
Their advertising emphasizes the speed at which AF can work, so perhaps they
focussed primarily on speed over low-light. It may also be because of the
wide AF point spacing.
Whatever the reason, the cameras AF system is rated at performing between
1 and 18 EV, just like the cheap Rebel 2000/EOS 300. Compare to 0 and 18 EV
for its predecessors - the Elan/100 and Elan II/50/55. And -1 and 19 EV for
the similarly priced Nikon F80/N80. I do a lot of low-light photography, and
so this limitation is a huge problem. You cant even rely on manual focussing,
because the viewfinder isnt very bright (limitation 5) and lacks any
manual focus aids like split screens.
Canon have an excellent reputation for fine AF performance. I dont understand
why theyre undermining this reputation by releasing products like the
Elan 7/30 and the digital D30 (which has even worse AF at 2-18 EV). Hopefully
things are going to improve in this area. The D30 was roundly criticized for
its poor AF and its replacement, the new D60, has an AF range which allegedly
starts at 0.5 EV, though this is apparently primarily due to changes in its
AF assist light.
- Serious limitation
2: poor AF assist.
Not only is the camera bad at focussing in low light, but it doesnt
have a proper AF assist light. Instead it simply pulses the main flash tube
at a blinding and epilepsy-inducing rate, which is unbelievably annoying.
Not to mention battery-draining. You can, of course, turn this strobing feature
off using a custom function but then you have no AF assist at all unless you
attach a flash unit.
I much prefer the patterned red light employed by its predecessors, which
bothers subjects considerably less. I guess Canon moved to using the flash
since large lenses can block a body-mounted AF assist light, putting an AF
assist light in the flash would mean affecting the pretty svelte lines of
the flash head, and eliminating the high-intensity LEDs probably saves a few
yen - two would probably be required to cover the cameras full autofocus
Of course, you can attach an external flash unit or ST-E2 controller and use
the AF assist light on that. But if you do any non-flash photography in low
light, as I frequently do, this is not an optimal solution. Pay many dollars
extra plus have a large cumbersome unit sticking out the top - yeah, thats
an attractive idea, all right.
- Serious limitation
3: IR fogging.
As with all of Canons current lineup except the top of the line 1V,
the infrared positioning diode that senses film sprocket holes also fogs the
lower edge of Kodaks HIE infrared film. This is a huge problem for users
of HIE and irrelevant to everybody else. I have another page dealing with
high-speed infrared film
and EOS cameras for those interested.
- Serious limitation
4: no manual lenses.
The Elan 7/30 does not support stop-down metering for manual
lenses. Previous EOS cameras let you attach manual focus lenses through
special lens mount adapters, but the Elan 7/30 does not meter correctly when
a manual lens is installed - it apparently meters about 3
stops out. So you have to compensate for this yourself when shooting.
Note that I say apparently since Ive heard conflicting reports
as to whether the camera metering error is linear or not. A non-linear error
is obviously much more difficult to compensate for.
I have no idea whether this design flaw was due to obscure technical reasons
(maybe entry angle of light in the metering system, affected by the presence
of ECF or diopter adjustment?) or whether Canon marketing decided itd
be a good idea to lock camera buyers into using EF-compatible lenses only,
but either way its frustrating for those of us who like to use manual
lenses from time to time. I can understand a limitation like this being built
into low-end consumer models, but come on! This camera is sold as the perfect
advanced amateur camera. And advanced amateurs are the most likely crowd of
people to want to use manual-focus lenses. Certainly more likely than either
beginners or professionals.
- Serious limitation
5: Poor viewfinder.
Finally, the Elan 7/30 viewfinder is dim and murky. I did a side-by-side comparison
with the original Elan (EOS 100) and the Elan II (EOS 50/55), and theyre
both bright and clear compared to the Elan 7E. The newer cameras viewfinder
may be a step up from Rebel class consumer cameras, but sadly its a
big step back from its predecessors.
So. Not only does the camera have difficulty focussing in low light but you
cant see quite as well either. And oddly enough, theres a strange
yellowish (warm) cast to the viewfinder image. No idea why - perhaps Canon
had to make some serious compromises in the finder in order to jam both dioptric
adjustment and ECF in there.
Now, I dont
own an Elan 7/30 and so in all fairness cant judge exactly to what extent
these limitations may be a problem on a day to day basis. However I do know
the type of photography I do, and limitations 2, 3 and 4 represent real stumbling
blocks. Limitations 1 and 5 are more subjective, but I own the Elan/100 and
the 10s/10, both of which are better than the Elan 7/30 in these specific
areas. And I know how frustrating it is already that the low-light
AF performance of these cameras isnt better. I really dont want
a brand new camera thats worse than these ten-year old cameras; even
problems arent as serious as the first 5, in my opinion. But theyre
- Like its predecessors,
the Elan/100 and the Elan II/50/55, the Elan 7/EOS 30/33/7 battery door doesnt
have a proper moving hinge. Instead you flex open the plastic itself, which
inevitably will break some day. Idiotic design. This is a problem especially
in cold weather, because plastic tends to become quite brittle at low temperatures.
And if the door breaks the camera will stop working unless you keep the battery
pushed into place with one hand.
Now I realize you dont change the battery all that often. And Im
sure the hinge has been tested at room temperature to work a certain number
of times. But its more a reminder that the camera simply isnt
built to last. Like a modern car, its designed for the first owner only
- maybe five years. Then itll break and will cost so much to fix you
have to go out and buy a new camera instead. My 25 year-old mechanical Pentax
Spotmatic would probably have been working just fine decades hence had some
scum not stolen it. An Elan 7/30 will be a useless lump of plastic.
- I do a lot
of low-light and night photography, and being able to change camera modes
in the dark is pretty important. The Elan II/50 is great in this regard -
it has a physical lever to set metering patterns; something I actually do
fairly often. Since its a physical lever you can tell by feel what setting
youve got. The Elan 7/30 is bad in this regard - you have to push a
rear-panel button, then rotate the main dial whilst peering at the top-deck
LCD. Though the Elan/100 is far worse - you have to press the metering button
and turn the dial simultaneously, which means you have to hold your flashlight
in your mouth or something.
However, the Elan 7/30 lets you set self-timer mode using a lever, which is
- The six-second
timeout on the exposure settings. If youve pushed the shutter release
halfway and have customized the exposure settings and then let go, youve
only got about 6 seconds before the viewfinder display shuts off and it forgets
whatever youve put in. Thats a bit short sometimes. All EOS cameras
seem to do this, yet only the 1V and 1D have a function to let users extend
this time if they want.
also a timeout on the remote-control sensor. The camera wont recognize
the RC-1 control signals unless youre in self-timer mode, which can
be annoying in itself, but after a few minutes it shuts off the remote sensor
as well. I presume this is some sort of power-saving measure, but its
certainly one that eliminates the possibility for many fun hacks.
- This is an
extremely insignificant point, but Canons promotional material goes
on and on about the sophisticated and elegant appearance of the Elan 7/30.
Yet it actually has a smaller LCD than its predecessors - a tiny panel surrounded
by a big silver bezel. And it also uses cheesy triangular arrow symbols which
point to printed icons on the bezel, rather than actual symbols on the LCD
for some reason. This works just as well as a larger LCD, but boy does it
look cheap. And on a very minor and purely aesthetic grumble, the mode dial
doesnt have the off position printed in red like previous EOS models
do. Its now called OFF rather than L, which
makes more sense, though.
- As with all
of Canons cameras the Elan 7/30 lacks a (post-exposure) flash confirmation
indicator in the viewfinder. This is apparently for patent reasons, but still
annoying. The 540EZ and most EX series external flash units have a flash exposure
confirmation lamp, but that means you have to check the back of the flash
unit after each picture - you cant just look for a light in the viewfinder.
- The partial
metering mode covers only 10% of the image area, compared to 6.5% for the
original Elan/100 and 9.5% for the Elan II/50. Odd that the Elan/100 is better
than the newer cameras in this regard, but there you go.
- No manual focus
indicator in the viewfinder. A little MF symbol in the viewfinder, not just
the top-deck LCD, would save you that extra second of wondering whether the
lens is in auto or manual focus mode and fumbling for the switch to double-check.
has only about 90% coverage (90% vertical and 92% horizontal, to be specific).
Oh, well. Consumer camera. It also isnt very easy to look into if you
wear glasses. Nikons cameras generally do a much better job of accommodating
- This applies
to pretty well all cameras these days, but the LCD itself is only supposed
to last 5-10 years or so before it fails. My EOS cameras are about a decade
old, and still have working LCDs, but the fact that they might fail and have
to be replaced at my expense is pretty annoying. See my complaints above about
the flimsy battery door.
- The latch on
the camera back is made of plastic, not metal. And the catch is exactly the
sort of thing that will snap off with use. For that reason I always push the
door in and release the catch, then open the door with the catch open, in
an attempt to minimize stresses placed on the catch and thus the chances of
it breaking on me. Maybe Im paranoid, but it doesnt take any extra
effort, and Id hate to have the catch break in the middle of a shoot.
- The Elan 7/30
uses two CR123A lithium cells, rather than the single 2CR5 lithium battery
used by most previous EOS cameras. The CR123A configuration offers no power
advantages over 2CR5, but costs more. Canon presumably switched since two
CR123As take up a tiny bit less room than one 2CR5, but its definitely
a move which inconveniences customers. If you have another EOS camera and
want to use the Elan 7/30 as a backup camera youll need to take two
sets of incompatible backup batteries with you.
- No backlit
top dial and LCD. Makes it a bit of a pain to operate in the dark. Wouldve
cost peanuts to add a couple surface-mounted LEDs in there for night operation.
Or, for a bit more money, an EL backlit screen like on the EOS 620. (one of
the oldest EOS models around)
will change in the future. The EOS Kiss III L, a minor revision to the Kiss
III (Japanese name for the Rebel 2000/EOS 300) sold only in Japan, has an
illuminated top-deck LCD, as do the digital D60 camera and the new Rebel Ti/EOS
300V/Kiss 5. Lets hope Canon continues this through the line.
- The camera
supports the latest EOS wireless flash features, including ratio support.
But unfortunately the camera itself cannot serve as a master flash unit. If
you want to trigger an external 420EX or 550EX Speedlite unit you need either
an ST-E2 or a 550EX to do the mastering. Its a shame that the camera
cant use its built-in flash to control slave units. That would save
the nuisance and bulk of carrying around an extra piece of equipment.
- No textual
or mnemonic explanation for what the custom
functions are. If Canon were to use a simple dot-addressable LCD they
could easily throw a few bytes of extra data into the ROM that would actually
explain what CF 1 or 7 does, so you dont have to tape a photocopy of
the manual onto your camera bag. The digital D30 and D60 have full text of
custom functions displayed on the rear screen, which is handy.
- No frame counter
information in the viewfinder - just on the top-deck LCD panel.
- If youre
into astrophotography you should know that the Elan 7/30, like most Canon
EOS cameras, appears to use power to hold the shutter open in bulb mode. And
that can drain the battery flat in a few hours. I say appears
as Ive not seen any information to the contrary, and all EOS models
similar to the Elan 7/30 suffer from this problem. Heres a useful table
comparing the various EOS models in this regard.
- The metal tripod
socket is not in line with the lens axis. It wont affect most people
but if, for example, you want to shoot a QuickTime VR panorama and need to
locate the camera on a bracket so that it rotates around the lens nodal point
this might be a minor issue, depending on the type of bracket.
- Back isnt
removable. So you cant replace it with a bulk-loader or Polaroid adapter
or date-printer or whatever. This doesnt affect me at all, but as above,
I suppose it might affect someone. There
is a date version which includes a date-printing back, but since the backs
arent interchangeable you either have a date-printing camera or you
- No interchangeable
finder screens. The 600 series cameras were the last non-pro EOS cameras to
have interchangeable viewfinder screens.
- It aint
sealed. Okay, so Id have to spend two or three times the money and get
a top of the line EOS 1V or 3 to get a fully-sealed weatherproof camera, but
itd be nice to have some basic rubber seals around things, even if they
werent up to the 1v standard.
What can I say?
I want to love this camera, but I just cant. No camera is perfect for
everyones needs, but this one has just too many flaws from my point
of view. Especially for the money involved - the flaws would be acceptable
on an entry-level camera, but this is not.
The chief designer
of the Elan 7/30 was previously in charge of designing the Rebel 2000/EOS
300/Kiss III. And, well, I get the feeling that he brought too much of his
consumer-market thinking with him, like the dim viewfinder, poor AF and pulsing
flash AF assist. Thats purely speculation on my part, of course, but
these problems are all seen on the Rebel 2000/EOS 300/Kiss III, but not on
the Elan/100 or Elan II/50/55.
If Canon fixed
the weak autofocus, added a proper AF assist light, brightened the viewfinder
and permitted the use of manual focus lenses Id be completely thrilled.
Im sort of resigned to Canon treating high-speed infrared film users
as an irrelevant minority and also reserving spot metering as a marketing
tool to sell their high-end cameras, so Im not hoping for anything there.
As it is Im sticking with my older gear for the time being.
said that, my criticisms of the Elan 7/30 stem purely from my own photographic
requirements. Its entirely possible that your photographic needs wouldnt
be so directly affected by the Elan 7/30s limitations - in which case
the camera could be absolutely perfect for you. As noted above, theres
a hell of a lot going for it, and it has a very impressive feature list.
For more of
whats important to me in a film camera have a look at my wishlist
document, for what its worth.
Philip Greenspun has written a brief
A site called
Steves Digicams has a pretty short
review that also has a lot of photos of the product.
EOS fan Julian
Loke runs an Elan 7E mailing
list. The mailing list site also contains an extensive list of links to
useful pages and reviews.
of the EOS 5/A2/A2E, the
EOS 50/50E/Elan II/Elan IIE/EOS 55 and the EOS 30/33/Elan 7/7E/EOS 7.
Camera Museum has an entry for the EOS
NK Guy, PhotoNotes.org.
is copyright © 2002-2013 NK Guy, PhotoNotes.org. This information is provided
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