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History Lesson – 1959 Canonflex

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Something different
Weekends can be pretty slow for news and rumors, but I still want to add content. So I’m going to try a few history lessons for the folks out there. I’m in the process of collecting various Canon cameras. I’ll give a brief history lesson every so often about each of them.

Canon’s first SLR Camera Body
I finally acquired one of these historical Canon camera bodies yesterday.

Released: March 1959
Discontinued:
August 1959
Production:
17,000 Units (Compared to the Nikon F which shipped 862,000.)
Weirdness:
Bottom winder. You could wind pretty fast, but don’t try to use a tripod!
Feature: Removable Pentaprism

canonflex - History Lesson - 1959 Canonflex
CR Guy's Canonflex

You can read more about the Canonflex here: http://www.cameraquest.com/canonflx.htm

cr

32 responses to “History Lesson – 1959 Canonflex”

  1. Your camera is the original model of the Canonflex. It was introduced around the same time as the original Nikon F. Nikon ate Canon’s lunch back then because Canon only had a 35mm f2.5, a 50mm f1.8, and a 135mm f2.5 preset lenses at launch. I’m not sure if the 58mm f1.2 was available at launch. Poor lens choice plus the folding trigger wind and other oddities made the Nikon the obvious choice.

    That said, the Canonflex is a great camera. It’s built like a tank, the shutter is very reliable and the lenses are quite good although presets are a pain in the rear to use.

    It has a selenium meter. No battery. The array of plastic “lenses” distributes reflective light. There should be a flat translucent white plastic incident light slip on cover with the meter. In your photo, the meter is not mounted correctly on the body. The shutter speed on the meter should correspond with the shutter dial setting. Either way, though, the meter will not be accurate, assuming it is still working.

    As to the removable prism, somewhere along the way, someone grafted an accessory shoe from a much later vintage camera onto it. Too bad, because it mars the original. Canon made a bayonet mount accessory flash holder that mounts onto the bayonet surrounding the PC contact at the end of the camera near the rewind crank.

  2. Addendum to the previous comment:

    The Super-Canomatic lenses did indeed have an automatic diaphragm, but you had to use the second aperture ring for DOF preview. Still a pain.

    Also, I forgot the 200mm f3.5 was available early on. Other lenses including the 85mm f1.8 and the 100mm f2.0 and f3.5 showed up later, but oddly there was not a lens wider than 35mm.

    Cheers.

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