Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

Canon Canonflex (Original)

The original Canonflex was first marketed in May 1959, a few months before the Nikon F. It had been developed alongside the VI rangefinder series, and shared some of their traits. The body was of the traditional octagon shape used on their first camera, the Hansa. The shutter was similar to that of the VI models, with all of the speeds on a single dial, which did not rotate while the shutter was firing. This allowed a meter to couple with the speed dial, also like the VI series.

The camera was given a baseplate trigger wind. Although it is generally regarded as one of the better trigger wind designs, the advance system doomed the camera from becoming a serious tool for the professional photographer. Leica, and even Canon in the years before the V series had the baseplate trigger offered the bottom wind as an accessory, which had it's uses. It works well on a rangefinder camera with a short focus lens. But winding with the left hand, and firing with the right leaves no hand to focus the lens. It is extremely cumbersome with longer lenses, and makes using the camera on a tripod a chore. The trigger wind was faster in operation for most people than the knob wind (although some people developed a talent for winding their cameras with the side of their fingers, and could shoot faster with a knob wind than a trigger or lever). However the lever wind was generally quicker than the trigger and left a hand free to focus with.

The finder was removable, the eye level prism finder could be replaced by a magnifying chimney finder. This was designed for use on a copy stand or for technical work, but the trigger wind made the camera unsuitable for either. The finders were finished in black paint. There was no folding waist level finder, nor a metered prism. The camera did have a shoe on the front side to hold a selenium exposure meter. It was coupled to the shutter speed dial, and would show the correct aperture to use, provided you coupled it correctly.

The Canonflex had one advantage over the Nikon F, as the Canonflex has a hinged opening back, while the Nikon has the removable back which must be juggled or set down during film loading. In most everything else it was outmatched.

This first model of Canonflex was only on the market for a year. It was discontinued in May 1960, with more than 16,000 units sold. It was replaced by two models, the RP and the R2000. This model was never given a name other than Canonflex, but is occasionally mis-labeled as the R1000.

This is the 12th Canonflex ever built (which makes it the 12th SLR Canon ever built) with the 14th lens.

With the clip on meter attached.

Ok, this is bragging a bit.Cameras 12, 89 and 101.