An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff
Canon Rangefinder Identification Guide
Canon II Series
If your camera does not have a little lever under the rewind knob to change the finder magnification, then it is a late S-II. The S-II was introduced in 1946, when Canon was still using the name Seiki Kogaku. It was the only model in production when the name changed in August ,1947, and remained in production until 1949. The S-II is as close to a Leica copy as Canon ever comes. The earlier rangefinder cameras all have bayonet mounts with the focusing built into the camera, and have pop up viewfinders. The early screw mount cameras all lack the rangefinder, and most (the J-II the exception) the finder housing does not corver around the rewind knob like a Leica. The J-II does as it was assembled from leftover S parts.
The S-II was Canons first step in actually improving the Leica design. It contained the rangefinder and viewfinder, allowing focus and composition to be done without changing windows. It was the beginning of Canons explosive growth. Production of this model alone doubled in three years the entire sales of all previous models.
If your camera has the rangefinder magnification lever, and the speeds split from the fast speed dial on top to the slow speed dial on the front at 20, then you have a IIB. Again Canon had improved upon the basic Leica design, and again production climbed. They sold over 14,000 IIBs from 1949 thru 1952, almost twice the number of S-IIs produced in the eqaul amount of time.
The early cameras have a two piece finder selection lever, consisting of a lever with a knob threaded into it. It was later replaced with a single piece cast lever. If your camera has the early two piece lever, and the speed split at 25, rather than 20, you have a IIC. This is a scarce camera, as only 800 were made during its five months of production in 1951. It was intended to replace the IIB, but in the end, it didn't.
There is the slight possibility that someone out three is scratching their head thinking "slow speeds? My camera doesn't HAVE slow speeds" Well, congradulations are in order. There are two models of Canon rangefinder without slow speeds. Both are rare and both are valuable. If this is your camera, please contact us at once. The two models differ in that the Canon IIA has no flash synch, the Canon IIAF does. Production of the 1952 IIA is not precisely known, but production estimates range from a high of 118, to as little as 14. Production figures for the IIAF are known, in 1953 they made 15 of them.
The next group of cameras share many of the same characteristics, but differ slightly in features. They were produced concurrently, although they were not introduced in the same year, they were (with one exception) all superceeded in 1955. All of these models feature the new one piece finder magnifier lever and speeds split at 25.
If your camera falls into this group, and has no flash provision, and does not have a film reminder in the wind knob, it is a IID. This camera started production in 1952, and was a proficent model with over 21,000 produced.
If your camera does not have flash synch, but does have a film speed reminder in the wind knob, you have a IID1. This uncommon model was produced form 1952-54. Only 2400 were built, however many more probably exist do to the addition of a wind knob with the film speed reminder in it. I know that we have had well more than our share of IID1s for a camera of such low production.
If your camera does have flash sych, and does not have an X on the slow speed dial about where the 15 would be, then you have a IIF. Reasonably common with nearly 12,000 produced from 1953-55, it featured flash synch only for flashbulbs.
If your camera has the flash, and it does have the X on the slow speed dial, then you have a IIS. This camera had flash synch for electronic flash, as well as flashbulbs. Introduced in 1954, only 1850 were produced, making it rather scarce.
In 1955 the IID, IIF and IIS were updated with a new shutter design. The speeds split at 30, rather than 25, and the shutter speed indicator arrow is now on the center shaft of the shutter speed knob. All feature locks on the slow speed dials. These were the final models of the II series.
The IID2, like the rest of the IID line has no flash capacity. Built through 1956, production was slightly over 16,000 units.
Like the IIF, the IIF2 has flash provision for bulbs only, the slow speed dial has no X on it. Unlike the IIF, this was a low production camera (2625), and was discontinued in Nov of 1955.
The IIS2, if you haven't already figured it out, has all of the features of the IIF2, but it also has an x-sych for electronic flash, marked on the slow spped dial. This was a popular model, with production of over 16,000 units, and discontinued in 1956.