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Canon Canonflex 35mm SLR camera

This is an example of Canon's very first 35mm SLR model, the original Canonflex, made in 1959.

My example has had a hard life by the looks of it. One of the two lugs that would hold the exposure meter has gone, and the base-plate is somewhat knocked about.

This model is both well-made and well-featured. The Canonflex has an interchangeable finder, and an instant-return mirror. The focus screen has split-image focus aid.

The cloth focal-plane shutter has speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second, with both B and T settings. To use the T setting, you set the shutter speed dial to the T-B position, and swing the lever beside the dial left towards the tiny frame-counter window. When you release the shutter, the button stays locked down until you swing the lever back towards the dial.

Canon Canonflex 35mm SLR camera

One very noticeable feature is the film advance lever, mounted in the middle of the bottom plate. This supposedly allowed you to shoot three frames a second.

Canon Canonflex 35mm SLR camera

A clip-on exposure meter was available, and this coupled to the shutter-speed dial, but I don't have one for this camera. I have previously owned a Canonflex R2000, and found that the camera was cumbersome to use with the meter bulky attached.

The camera body lacks a flash shoe, but a coupler at the end of the top plate allowed the attachment of an accessory shoe.

Canon Canonflex 35mm SLR camera

The Canonflex was followed in 1960 by the Canonflex R2000, very much the same camera except that it has a top shutter speed of 1/2000 second, and the Canonflex RP with a fixed prism finder and a top shutter speed of 1/1000 second.

The Canonflex RM followed in 1962. This has a built-in selenium exposure meter instead of the somewhat-cumbersome clip-on style used with the three earlier models.

Unlike the Canonflex, Canonflex R2000, and Canonflex RP cameras, the Canonflex RM has a top-mounted advance lever just where you'd expect to find one, not mounted midway along the camera baseplate, .

The Canonflex cameras have the same breech-mount as the later Canon SLRs like the FT, FX and so forth, but had a very different mechanism for actuating the automatic diaphragm of the lenses, with the consequence that while later lenses will mount on the Canonflex, the aperture will not stop down when the shutter is fired, and there is certainly the potiential for damage to occur.

Here you can see the rear of an R-type lens, and a Canon FL lens.

Canon Canonflex lens mount

The Super-Canomatic lenses all have two aperture setting rings, a click-stopped ring to set the aperture to which the lens will automatically be stopped down during exposure, and a second ring without click-stops, which allows you to check depth-of-field prior to taking a photo.

Canon Canonflex 35mm SLR lens mount

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