The Perfect Film Camera For Canon Shooters

Canon EOS-1n with a Canon 35mm f/2 IS USM lens attached.

If you currently shoot with a Canon DSLR and want to try your hand at 35mm film photography then look no further than the Canon EOS-1n for your camera of choice.

Preceded by the original EOS-1, the EOS-1n became the new professional SLR film camera from Canon. By the time the EOS-1n was released in 1994 the EOS ecosystem was 7 years old and the camera benefitted from those years of product refinement. Improved zone and partial metering, as well as advancements in the auto-focusing system are some of the most noticeable differences between the EOS-1n and its predecessor. 6 years after the EOS-1n, the EOS-1v was released as the last installment of the EOS-1 film camera line. The 1v had 8 times as many AF points, a higher burst rate with attached battery grip (up 10 fps) as well as improved weather sealing.

On the used market you will find a decent amount of the EOS-1 family of cameras. The EOS-1v tends to be significantly more expensive than the EOS-1 and EOS-1n. The affordability and availability make the EOS-1n the best choice of the EOS-1n family.

If you search for YouTube videos on shooting 35mm film you’re bound to run into countless examples of people shooting with manual focus film SLR cameras or rangefinder cameras. These cameras are fantastic and I own a few manual focus cameras myself but they are not the cameras I reach for when I want to be most effective and creative with my film photography. For that, I reach for the EOS-1n.

I’ve spent years shooting both photos and video with Canon’s EOS system of cameras. Picking up the EOS-1n feels extremely familiar. The design and layout of the body shares common elements with the Canon DSLR cameras I own, the EOS-6D and EOS-70D. A staple of Canon SLR cameras is the quick dial on the back. This makes operating the camera with one hand easy. I can rotate this dial with my thumb and adjust the aperture and adjust the shutter speed with the wheel, that sits next to the shutter button, with my index finger. This method of operating the camera has become second nature for me so being able to operate a film camera this same way is awesome.

The front view of my EOS-1n sitting next to my EOS-6D

Even with modern DSLR and mirrorless cameras I love to shoot photos looking through the viewfinder. A bad viewfinder experience can shape my opinion of a camera. Much like my EOS digital cameras the EOS-1n has a large clear viewfinder with the essential information I need to operate the camera efficiently. Since I operate in completely manual mode most of the time I like to see what settings I am currently using not what the camera thinks I should use.

The EOS-1n brightly displays aperture and shutter speed at the bottom of the viewfinder. On the right side of the viewfinder window is an exposure level display which shows the current exposure level of what you’re metering. This is handy to see how for overexposed or underexposed you are. This exposure scale is a common feature among the EOS family of cameras and even on a couple of cameras prior to the EOS system. Although it’s laid on horizontally on my 6D and 70D the scale is there and it operates in a similar fashion as it does on the EOS-1n.

The back view of my EOS-1n sitting next to my EOS-6D

When Canon switched their professional line of cameras to the EOS EF mount they frustrated a lot of people who hoped they would be able to use their old FL & FD mount glass on the newer autofocus cameras. For many reasons Canon felt they were better off redesigning the mount so they could fit autofocus mechanics in the lenses themselves as well as the appropriate electrical contacts so the lens can communicate with the camera. This resulted in a much faster autofocus solution than what Nikon offered at the time. Since the switch to the EF mount happened in the late 1980s, we have over 30 years of great Canon EOS lenses to choose from. Can a Nikon camera mount older and more lenses natively? Yes but the amount of great EF glass is awesome, both from Canon and third party manufacturers. The lenses I use on my EOS-1n are the same lenses I use on my 6D. That includes the 200mm 2.8 L, the 85mm 1.8, and a newer 35mm 2.0 lens and more.

I always like to make a Pros and Cons list whenever I am considering making a purchase of a camera or any other piece of tech. Here is my list of some of the pros and cons of the Canon EOS-1n:

Pros:

  • Good metering options.
  • Large and useful viewfinder.
  • Familiar Design for EOS users.
  • Good build quality.
  • Solid autofocus.
  • Affordable.
  • Lens availability (There is an awesome amount of EF lenses and you can adapt other lenses just like you can with a DSLR)

Cons:

  • Not compatible with FD lenses.
  • Battery can be pain to find. (Batteries Plus has them)
  • Larger body. (Compared to a DSLR it’s normal but compared to a Leica or Nikon FM2 it’s large.)


I prefaced this blog post by saying “if you are a Canon DSLR shooter…” but in reality this camera is a great camera for anyone. Cameras that allow me to make the most of lenses I already own win bonus points for me, that is one of the biggest reasons I love using the EOS-1n. If you’re mainly a Nikon shooter, or a mirrorless shooter of another brand then your lens collection may look a lot different. Let me know if you guys would want some of my other favorites listed out to help as a guideline for beginning film shooters.

You can find these cameras on eBay all the time but I purchased my EOS-1n from Usedphotopro.com. Whether I’m looking for something specific or just browsing randomly, I usually go to usedphotopro.com first before other sites. One reason is that I love buying there is because I know they’ve tested the gear and it operates as they say it does. Buying used gear can save you money but there’s nothing more frustrating then buying something only to have it not work. That doesn’t happen with usedphotopro.com. Not only do they test it but they have a 180 day warranty. Another reason I love usedphotopro.com is the fact they show you pictures of the actual item you purchasing not a representation. You can zoom in on multiple pictures of the piece of gear and see the scratches, blemishes or lack there of and have peace of mind from knowing exactly what you are buying.

Get 5% off total order on UsedPhotoPro

(My links to usedphotopro.com are affiliate links but just like with any affiliate programs I sign up for, I do because I love the product or service myself.)

I love my EOS-1n and if you decide to give it a shot I’m confident you will love yours too. Let me know if you decide to try one, or have one already.

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