Original Canonet vintage rangefinder

Original Canonet vintage rangefinder

Original Canonet vintage rangefinder

Original Canonet vintage rangefinder

Original Canonet vintage rangefinder

This is the the original, standard setting Canon Canonet. The camera industry went into uproar when Canon announced it was to introduce an affordable 35mm camera with a fast f1.9 lens, but the camera proved to be a huge success and set a new benchmark for camera design. A week’s worth of stock was sold out in only two hours, and a million Canonets were sold in just two and a half years.

The camera features a bottom mounted trigger wind which leaves the top of the body free for a very clean and elegant design. You use your left hand for winding and the right for shooting which is a nice balanced and quick way of operating the camera. It has a very short wind stroke compared to other rangefinders so is quicker to operate. The rewind crank is on the right side of the bottom plate, and the take up spool is on the left (this might seem backward at first, just imagine the camera is upside down when loading film).

The Canonet has a very quiet film advance and shutter. The viewfinder is bright and shows the aperture setting. The shutter will lock if there is insufficient light when in automatic mode. The lens is incredibly sharp with extremely good contrast and detail. The selenium cells have a shelf life so more often than not these cameras will have to be used full manual with an external light meter or the Sunny 16 rule.

Adding to the aesthetic quality of the design is the selenium photocell which is mounted around the lens element. The proportions are absolutely perfect and this has to be one of the best looking cameras we have ever seen.

Title Data
Lens: Canon SE 45mm f1.9
5 elements in 4 groups
AOV: 52º
Diaphragm: f1.9 - f16
Shutter: Copal SV
Shutter speeds: B, 1 - 1/500
Viewfinder: Automatic parallax correction with projected frames
Focusing: Double-image type coupled rangefinder
Focal range: 2.8ft - ∞
Exposure modes: Manual & Auto shutter priority
Exposure meter: Selenium photocell
Flash synchronisation: MX flash synchronisation
Battery: N/A
ASA: 10-400
Filter mount: 55mm screw-in
Self timer: Yes
Winding method: Trigger-action lever on the base plate operated by left hand
Winding distance: 100º
Dimensions: 140 x 78 x 64 mm
Weight: 725g / 1.6lb
Year: 1961

Download the manual (PDF)