What does EOS stand for, and why do so many Canon products have this name attached to them? There are various theories, some more plausible than others. In this article, we are going to provide you with the answer. Furthermore, we are also going to take you on an EOS journey.

what does eos stand for in photography

What Does EOS Stand for?

If you are passionate about photography, then the name “EOS” surely sounds familiar. You may even own an EOS but still don’t know what it means. So what does EOS stand for anyway?

Some people have gone as far as suggesting that Canon may have drawn inspiration from the Greek mythology. See, the ancient Greeks had a Goddess of Dawn and her name was – you know it – Eos.

The analogy is probably due to the dawning of autofocus that single-lens reflex cameras are capable of. This is quite a romantic approach, but the reality is quite far from it.

EOS actually stands for Electro-Optical System. As a matter of fact, Canon started using the name EOS in the late ‘80s. That’s when they produced their first autofocus single-lens reflex camera.

But wait – we’re not done. Some people suggest that EOS actually means Eye on Start. Here’s why.

Early Canon models with an electronic focusing and metering system pack a sensor in the viewfinder chamber. This camera system will only start focusing and metering once the body is brought near the photographer’s eye.

Consequently, the name may also have something to do with Eye on Start. So what does EOS stand for now? Don’t worry, we’re sticking with Electro-Optical System, so you won’t go wrong by sharing this information.

girl with eos camera

Where Did It All Begin?

The not-so-Greek-goddess EOS began its journey in mid-1980s. Canon was set on building a fantastic SLR camera, moving away from the FD lenses to the EF lens mount.

This move proved to be a huge success. Photographers easily left behind their old cameras and upgraded to EOS. Over the years, the sales have remained high, and EOS is now one of the most popular SLR systems.

The first camera with the Electro-Focus (EF) mount was the EOS 650. The camera hit the market in March 1987.

One of the first EF innovations was the Ultrasonic Motor (USM). With it, Canon created a way of utilizing piezoelectric elements to manufacture a drive mechanism that could power autofocus.

Thanks to this revolutionary development, the EF lenses became famous for their autofocus capability.

Back in September 1989, Canon launched their first “1” series camera. The EOS-1 soon established itself as a market leader among action and fashion photographers.

The camera’s Cross-type Base-Stored Image Sensor allowed for autofocus with unprecedented accuracy.

Along with the new EOS-1, Canon simultaneously released two lenses that would gain an equally wide appreciation: EF 50mm f/1.0L USM and EF 80-200mm f/2.8L USM.

EOS History: Continued

Just one month later, in October 1989, Canon presented the EOS RT. This camera featured a new innovation from the Japanese manufacturer.

The EOS RT came with a fixed pellicle mirror. This means that it allowed for a shutter delay of only 0.008 seconds. As a result, photographers could track their subjects in “Real Time”.

In October 1990, Canon launched their $1,000-worth EOS 1000. This pricey camera packed the One-Shot AF and AI Servo AF modes. This too became a hit among photographers in all corners of the globe.

In November 1992, Canon introduced the Eye-Controlled Focus with their new EOS 5. The Eye-Control BASIS sensor’s uniqueness lied in the fact that it could track the position of the photographer’s pupil.

As a result, the camera would select the point the user was looking at, automatically achieving focus.

canon eos 5

EOS History: Continued

In July 1995, Canon debuted their first Digital EOS. The EOS DCS 3 was the first to produce transmission-ready photographs straight from the device.

This camera was manufactured in collaboration with Kodak, who was responsible for the major electronic components.

Later that same year, Canon launched the EOS 50E. It was Canon’s first camera to feature the E-TTL (Evaluative Through-The-Lens) – the manufacturer’s most advanced light metering system. The sensor would meter through the lens.

As a result, it was less likely to get confused by reflected light. Since then, the E-TTL has been replaced with the upgraded E-TTL II.

In November 1998, Canon brought the 45-Point Area AF with its new EOS-3. The 45-Point Area AF allowed for a new level of both accuracy and speed of focus. The Eye-controlled Focus was also enhanced.

EOS in the 2000’s

In October 2000, Canon presented the EOS D30, the first camera to be produced with Canon components only. The Japanese manufacturer brought something new to the table this time too.

The camera featured a 3.11MP CMOS image sensor, which may not sound at all new. However, it was the first time that the CMOS technology was used for the imaging sensor.

Until then, it was only deployed in developing the AF and metering sensors.

In November 2002, Canon launched the EOS-1Ds. This was a major breakthrough for the manufacturer because it featured a full frame CMOS.

Unlike smaller sensors, the full frame CMOS allowed for larger, more sensitive pixels. This meant better detail, especially in dark and highlight areas.

The full frame sensor proved to be a hit among photographers using wide-angle lenses, as they could now get the most out of their lenses.

In March 2005, the EOS 350D was rolled out. With it, Canon brought new technologies such as the DIGIC II and the E TTL II.

Its low price and the fact that it gave consumers the opportunity to exploit all EOS system’s capabilities made the 350D the fastest selling DSLR of all time. Way to go, Canon!

EOS to Today

In February 2007, 20 years after the launching of the first EOS camera, Canon takes a leap forward by introducing the EOS-1D Mark II.

Accumulating years of EOS technology, the camera delivered crystal-clear images at an unprecedented 10fps.

It set new standards, becoming the world’s fastest DSLR.

Fast-forward to 2016, and we have the new EOS-1D X Mark II.

Capable of shooting 14fps, it’s built around a 20.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor while packing the Dual Pixel autofocus system.

This goes to show that Canon continues to make legendary cameras for pros and amateurs alike.

Types of EOS Cameras

Now that you know the answer to the question, “what does EOS stand for?,” it’s time to learn about the different options of Canon EOS cameras.

1. Canon Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D

  • Type: DSLR
  • Megapixels: 24.2MP
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Screen: 3.0in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots
  • Lens mount: Canon EF-S
  • Max burst speed: 5fps
  • Viewfinder: Pentamirror
  • User level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Max video resolution: 1080p
  • 24.2 Dual Pixel AF sensor
  • Fully articulated touchscreen
  • Basic 9-point viewfinder AF
  • New EOS 250D is better for video

2. Canon EOS 80D

  • Type: DSLR
  • Megapixels: 24.2MP
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Screen: 3.0in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots
  • Lens mount: Canon EF-S
  • Max burst speed: 7fps
  • Viewfinder: Pentaprism
  • User level: Enthusiast
  • Max video resolution: 1080p
  • Fully articulated touchscreen
  • Great features and handling
  • Prices staying high
  • Full HD video not 4K

3. Canon EOS 6D Mark II

  • Type: DSLR
  • Megapixels: 26.2MP
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Screen: 3.2in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots
  • Lens mount: Canon EF
  • Max burst speed: 6.5fps
  • Viewfinder: Pentaprism
  • User level: Enthusiast
  • Max video resolution: 1080p
  • Novice-friendly, but powerful
  • Fully articulated touchscreen
  • Bulkier than the EOS RP
  • Full HD video, not 4K

4. Canon EOS M50

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Megapixels: 24.1MP
  • Sensor: APS-C
  • Screen: 3.2in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots
  • Max burst speed: 7fps
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36 million dots
  • User level: Beginner
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • Built-in electronic viewfinder
  • Vari-angle touchscreen
  • 4K video limitations
  • Limited lens range

5. Canon EOS R

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Megapixels: 30.3MP
  • Sensor: Full frame CMOS
  • Screen: EVF, 3.69m dots, 100% coverage
  • Max burst speed: 8fps
  • Viewfinder: EVF
  • User level: Enthusiast/professional
  • Max video resolution: 4K UHD
  • Dual Pixel AF
  • Great in low light
  • Single card slot
  • No in-body image stabilization

6. Canon EOS RP

  • Type: Mirrorless
  • Megapixels: 26.2MP
  • Sensor: Full frame CMOS
  • Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
  • Max burst speed: 5fps
  • Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36 million dots
  • User level: Enthusiast
  • Max video resolution: 4K UHD
  • Fully articulating screen
  • Size, weight, and low cost
  • Weak battery life
  • 1.6x crop and no Dual Pixel AF in 4K

7. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

  • Type: DSLR
  • Megapixels: 30.4MP
  • Sensor: Full frame
  • Screen: 3.0in fixed touch, pivot 1,620,000 dots
  • Max burst speed: 7fps
  • Viewfinder: Optical
  • User level: Professional
  • Max video resolution: 4K
  • 30.4MP Sensor
  • Great 61-point AF system
  • Big crop factor for 4K video
  • Burst speed average 7fps

Summing Up “What Does EOS Stand For?”

Now that you know a bit more about the groundbreaking Canon line of cameras, you can easily see how EOS means so much more than just a name. What does EOS stand for? Well, it stands for innovation, uniqueness, and passion for photography.

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