Skip to main content

Canon’s EOS system is turning 30 — here’s what it really stands for

Canon EOS 80D
The electronic connection between the camera and lens that makes features like in-lens stabilization possible is turning 30 with the Canon EOS camera system. Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
The electronic connection between a lens and a camera body that makes everything from complete EXIF data to lens stabilization possible is now nearly three decades old. Canon’s SLR camera, the EOS cameras, lenses and accessories, turns 30 in March, with a history spanning from film to the latest digital shooters.

Canon’s move to add an electrical connection between the camera body and the lens was actually named after Electro, the Greek goddess of the dawn, earning the series the name Electro Optical System and an EOS acronym that still continues today. At the time, Canon was the first to use an electronic mount.

The Canon EOS 650, a film SLR, and the company’s line of EF lenses first debuted in March 1987. The company has now sold over 80 million EOS bodies and 120 million EF lenses.

“When the EOS system originally launched in 1987, one of its most important differentiations from other leading camera systems at the time was the introduction of fully electronic communication between the camera body and its interchangeable lenses and other system accessories such as battery packs, etc.,” Chuck Westfall, a Canon USA spokesperson, told Digital Trends.

“This design improved overall system performance by replacing levers and pins that were subject to mechanical wear and tear with electronic components that were not only more precise but also more robust. Fully electronic data communication also increased the amount of data that the system could handle, and this characteristic enabled Canon’s engineering team to add new and powerful features such as optical image stabilization in EF lenses, among many other things, to improve overall system performance.”

Thirty years later, the electronic lens-to-camera connection has helped the camera giant introduce a number of new features to SLR cameras. In 2008, it was the first to offer full-HD video inside a DSLR with the EOS 5D Mark II, later leading the company to launch the EOS Cinema line in 2012. The EOS system also saw the first entry-level DSLR with the EOS Digital Rebel in 2003.

According to the Consumer Imaging Product Association, Canon EOS became the top-selling global interchangeable lens camera in 1990 — and held that spot for 13 consecutive years.

While the line’s history spans the jump from film to digital, the EOS systems means that every EOS lens is compatible with every EOS camera, so photographers can use the latest body with a classic lens. Canon says that EOS foundation will continue to drive new imaging technology, including three-dimensionality and a sense of realism.

“Details must remain confidential, but the versatility of the original EOS system design provides Canon with the ability to accommodate a wide variety of future technological advancements. As always, we will endeavor to enhance customer satisfaction with Canon products,” Westfall said.

As the EOS camera celebrates three decades, the current lineup encompasses 24 different cameras and 97 EF lenses.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
The Canon EOS Rebel T8i brings 4K to a $750 budget DSLR
canon eos rebel t8i announced eost8i front efs18 55mm

Canon may be teasing a high-end full-frame mirrorless, but the company isn’t about to start neglecting DSLRs. The new Canon EOS Rebel T8i upgrades the processor and autofocus in Canon’s popular budget DSLR, resulting in a $750 camera that’s equipped with 4K and enhanced performance for stills.

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i still houses the same sensor as the T7i, a 24-megapixel APS-C design that’s been around for a while, but isn’t bad considering the price point. While the autofocus has been updated to include face and eye detection when using the screen instead of the viewfinder, the focus still uses a 45-point Dual Pixel system.

Read more
Canon EOS R5 is everything the R isn’t, thanks to stabilization, 8K, dual slots
canon eos r5 teased teaser

Less than two years after venturing into full-frame mirrorless, Canon has unveiled the “next generation” of EOS R with a camera that appears to address the biggest complaints from the original. Teased on Thursday, February 13, the Canon EOS R5 will house image stabilization, 8K video, 12-20 fps burst shooting, and dual memory card slots. In the announcement, Canon also shared that nine RF lenses will be launched in 2020.

Canon says the camera will have a newly developed full-frame sensor but didn’t offer any hints on the camera’s resolution. If the 8K video is any indication, however, that sensor’s pixel count will be on the high side. An 8K camera needs at least 33.2 million pixels on the sensor, or 33.2 megapixels -- if the camera uses the full sensor to record video.

Read more
The unrestrained 1D X Mark III proves Canon still knows how to lead. Will it?
canon eos 1d x mark iii proves ready to lead video leader featured


This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.

Read more