When Canon abandoned its fifteen year old “breech-lock” FD line of lenses in 1987 to make room for a totally different EF electronic mount, loyal pro photographers like myself were left wondering. Why would Canon, unlike Nikon, eliminate reverse compatability of their 35mm lenses? I soon switched over to the German Leicaflex SL2 cameras that were built like tanks and had even better glass. When Leica decided not to adopt the autofocus capabilities introduced by the Japanese manufacturers, I moved back to Canon whose zoom optics had improved enough for me to use professionally.

Twenty years later, Canon is looking pretty smart as it celebrates its 60 millionth EF-series lens and domination of the 35mm marketplace. In fact, Canon just set a record of being the first Japanese company to exceed 2,500 patents in one year. I still love using Leica rangefinders, especially the digital M9. But for day-to day workhorse duty, a Canon 5D Mk II with HD video capability is hard to beat. For the beginner, there are now even more reasons to consider a Canon 35mm camera.

Yesterday, Canon announced the new Canon EOS Rebel T3i. This compact 35mm camera features a swivel-out screen and built-in photography guide. The 3-inch rotating screen lets you hold the camera overhead and still frame a shot. With a higher ISO setting than comparable Nikons, 12 megapixel resolution, 3.7 frames per second continuous shooting, and 1080p HD video, the T3i is tough to resist. The new Canon also comes with built-in filters that let you add soft-focus or grainy black-and-white effects, including a Holga-type look.

The Canon EOS Rebel T3i is scheduled to be available at the end of March and will be offered with a new EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II zoom lens, all for under $600. Also announced were updates of several of Canon’s L-series lenses and teleconverters.

The T2i’s viewfinder shows a slightly bigger view however…

When they come out with a “something to say” button, I’ll be really worried.

(Photo courtesy Canon USA)

P.S. Canon’s first prototype 35mm camera was built in the ’30s, after firstly Leica and secondly Contax rangefinders were introduced. It was called a “Kwanon” because it’s designer Yoshida was a believer in Kwannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The camera’s logo depicted a thousand-arm Kwannon Goddess, and even its lens was named “Kasyapa” which came from Mahakasyapa, a disciple of the Buddha.