2other Canon camera in my collection

Canon EX EE

Canon TX SLRs


JapanCanon Canonet [1961 - 1963]



The Canonet was the first of a series of rangefinder cameras, first marketed in January 1961. A week's worth of stock was sold out in only two hours - so the story goes. Two and a half years later, a million of these Canonets had been purchased.

The clean lines of the top, which only houses the shutter-release, with a locking ring for time-exposures (frame counter and an accessory shoe) has been achieved by putting the advance lever underneath the body. The advance lever has a tip, which hinges downwards, making it easy to operate using the left hand. The film is effectively exposed upside down.

Rangefinder focusing is controlled by a lever attached to the focus ring, also at the bottom of the camera. The selenium meter cell is arranged around the lens - thus automatically compensating for filters. The aperture ring is scaled from f16 down to f1.9, followed by an "auto" setting for shutter priority automation.

The viewfinder features a bright-frame, with automatic parallax correction (i.e. the position of the bright-frame moves according to proximity to the subject), and a scale showing the meter selected aperture. Early models had no aperture scale but used two arrows to indicate over or under exposure. A red circle displays to indicate under exposure, and the shutter release button locks.

There appears to have been three versions of this camera.

Version 1 no aperture scale in viewfinder ASA range 10 200 No Cloudy/Sunny settings
Version 2 aperture scale in viewfinder ASA range 10 200 Cloudy/Sunny settings on the bottom of the lens.
Version 3 aperture scale in viewfinder ASA range 10 400 Cloudy/Sunny settings on the bottom of the lens.

The Canonet was also sold by Bell & Howell as the Bell & Howell / Canon Canonet 19.

The camera was advertised in a 1962 edition of Photography magazine at 48-18s-10d, which was a bit more than 2 weeks average UK pay.




viewfinderViewfinder: Coincidence rangefinder integrated with reversed Galilean viewfinder . Automatic parallax correction with projected bright-frames. 0.67x magnification. Viewfinder bottom features aperture scale (f/1.9 - f/16) with pointer needle. A red circle is displayed in viewfinder as an exposure warning.

Focus: Coupled rangefinder with manual ring on lens barrel.

Lens: SE 45mm f/1.9 (5 elements in 4 groups).

Close Focus: 2.6' (0.8m).

Diaphragm: Five blade, stopping down to f/16.

Shutter: Copal SLV; B, 1 to 1/500 sec (* see comments below *). Built-in self-timer. Time exposures with T ring (i.e. the shutter can be locked open). M-X sync contacts.

Cable Release: Standard socket in shutter release button.

Meter: Coupled.

Exposure: Selenium photocell for controlled shutter speed-priority auto exposure. Meter-less manual exposure enabled by disabling AUTO.

Exposure range: EV 3 to EV 17.

Film Speed: From ASA 10 - 400.

Filter Size: 55mm screw fit.

Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync.

Film Advance: Lever with hinged tip. 100° single stroke.

Frame Counter: Counts up. Resets automatically when camera back is opened.

Rewind: Camera-bottom collapsible crank, and rewind selector switch.

Back Opening: Sliding lever and press button.

Size: 140 x 83 x 65 mm

Weight: 700g



My Camera

I paid 10.00 for this camera in November 2013.

I went for this particular (first) Canonet because I liked the bottom wind crank location and clean top plate. Later variants seem to lack individuality, although they no doubt perform well (probably much better)? My camera is the third version, and in good condition. I have replaced the light seals, as usual.

I am very impressed by this camera. You don't realise - until you've got it in your paws - that it's a pretty large thing, but many early 60s cameras were on the large size.

dialThe user manual for the third version model advocates a very specific approach to using this camera. It says ...
a) Set the lens aperture ring to Auto.
b)Set the film speed ... by shifting the film speed indicator.
c) Turn the shutter speed ring so as to set the film speed indicator lever (on the underside of the lens) to the Indoor, Cloudy or Sunny mark.

The third step brings a preferred shutter speed into operation for any given film speed setting and lighting conditions. However the procedure is totally unnecessary. The instruction manual for the second version of this camera puts the feature on its final page (rather than the first), and describes it as a convenient exposure mark, which is intended to get the user in the ballpark of a correct shutter speed setting.



Canon Canonet

Canon Canonet

Canon Canonet

Canon Canonet

Canon Canonet