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

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CR Guy's Canonflex

You can read more about the Canonflex here:


32 responses to “History Lesson – 1959 Canonflex”

  1. I promise you that the meter does not need a battery.

    I have one of each body in the C-flex series. The original version, the one pictured above (which I call the R1000) with meter, the R2000 with meter, the RP (and a second one in black)with meter, Canon RM, Bell & Howell RM. The RM version had the built in meter while the others used an optional clip on meter. The R2000 meter had an extra setting for the 1/2000 shutter speed which the other clip one meters lacked. I also have all the lenses from 35 to 600mm and a number of accessories. I’ve added the 19 FL-R and 28mm FL lenses to get wide angle coverage.

    The R lens mount is the same as the FL and FD mounts. The difference is in the operating system for each family. R lenses have two prongs on the back. FL have only one. FD have two but arranged differently. R lenses will mount on later cameras. FL lenses will mount on C-flex cameras. FD lenses are either impossible to mount or will cause damage to themselves or their host. When using lenses on cameras they were not designed for there’s no automation and everything must be set by hand.

    @ Jason

    I don’t see any continuity of style between this and later Canon film cameras. the RM version was totally different to the one pictured here.

    The two apeture rings were a cross between a pre-set and an automatic lens. One ring let you set the desired value but the lens only closed down during the time the shutter was open. The second ring actually did close down the lens to whatever value you selected and kept it there until you changed it. This served as the depth of field preview.

    The long teles used a bellows focusing system had had no auto diaphram. They came straight from the rangefinder line where they were used with a mirror box. Because of the bellows focusing, these long teles can be used on today’s EOS models with a glassless EF-FD adapter ring and they will focus to infinity. There were also economy versions of the 85, 100 and 135 lenses that were also RF lenses with different mounts.

  2. I have a camera just like yours without the flash on top. Any idea what year it is and what it is worth? It has two lens sizes (50mm & 135mm). It was my Dad’s (he’s 82). He used an Argus light meter. I don’t know if he ever had a canon light meter with it. There is also an additional part that fits on the back of the camer to look through. I’m not sure how it is used. Oh, I just figured out where it goes. The eye lens removes from the top and the additional longer eye lens fits in and you can look through the top of the camera. I’m glad I found your site because I have had this camera over 10 years and never checked to see how it worked. What a great site and very informed people on the site. Thanks everyone.

  3. By the way, I noticed your eye lens attachment has a flash bracket. My camera does not. Is that the only way to use a flash with this camera?

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