Canon have been producing high quality cameras for many years. It is true toi say that the earlier 35mm cameras had a superior build quality to the film models of 1990s. Anyone who has used a F1n and then picked up an EOS 500 will see what I mean. Likewise the modern 'budget' digitals are lightweight and uninspiring. Perhaps one of the best of the bunch was the Canon A1 from the 1970s offering aperture, shutter, program and manual shooting along with a 5fps motor drive. Like it's bigger F1 brother it was a system camera with hundreds of add-ons available to tailor the camera to your needs. Only the lack of interchangeable screens made it lose out to the F1. The F1n was a heavy manual workhorse that could be turned into aperture/shutter priority auto by adding motordrive and/or AE viewfinder. The quality of this camera has to be seen to be believed. Steel/brass construction and in the case of the F1, hand made. Superb.
The EOS range vary greatly. The cheaper models - model numbers too numerous to list- were lightweight and very, very plasticy. Having said that they were fine for fair weather snappers. If you wanted a quality camera you had to shell out for an EOS1, EOS1n, EOS3 or EOS1V. All were very pricy but very well made. The EOS5 was good too but not in the league of its big brothers. The EOS1V is still in production but expect to pay £1400 for a body only. Specification is great - leaving the old cameras in the shade. In its day the F1 with 1/2000sec shutter speed was good. Now the lesser EOS cameras offered 1/8000s but who uses that? Autofocus and better auto exposure meant that pictures were almost always sharp and well exposed. Like most companies Canon have scrimped on quality with the budget cameras of today. The lowest EOS digital is a toy compared with the auto AV1 from 1980. Likewise, the original FD lenses (with chrome collar) are built like BMWs as opposed to the 'Hyundai' EF lenses. If you want a good film camera you can pick up a single digit EOS for £150. Digital EOS are dear - even the EOS450 is £700. Unless you are blessed with small hands they are really small machines - a bit like the Olympus OM1 - an EOS5D is larger and better built. Lenses don't come cheap but with advances in glassware you can get great images from a 28-200mm - a zoom range that didn't exist when the AE1 was around so you camera bag need only contain three lenses - 17-50, 35-105 and perhaps a 100-400.