Canon IIIA Camera

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    Derived from a Leica design, Canon Camera Co. of Tokyo, Japan made approximately 600,000 of these 35mm rangefinder cameras between 1935 and 1968 of various types and lenses. This example, the IIIA, was manufactured from 1951 to 1953. The camera has shutter speeds of 1 sec. to 1/1000 of a sec.—but set on two dials. One selected speeds 1/1000 to 1/40 and then had a position to select the second dial that did 1/25 to 1 sec. The rangefinder had a selector level to allow you to see not only the fame of the shot, but also enlarge the central focusing portion 1X and 1.5X normal. It has a film speed reminder in the winding knob. It is fitted with a Canon Serenar f/1.8 50mm lens, but the lens is changeable. The camera is loaded through the baseplate.

    It is shown here with the flash and reflector of the Canon Flash Unit B-II. I have the round battery holder, it’s just not in the picture for clarity sake. This could be the “Rube Goldberg” of the synchronized flash world! If you look closely, you can see a second shutter button on the side of the flash unit. On the opposite side (not seen here) is a cocking lever. To make your flash picture, you set the camera to it’s flash sync speed—1/25 sec.—and cocked not only the camera (by winding it) but also the flash unit! You could either press on the latch above the normal shutter button or use the second shutter button on the side of the flash unit—useful for taking portrait shots. The spring mechanism in the flash unit would fire the camera’s shutter release and set off the flash at just the right time. Also, the flash reflector is removeable—not just for “easy storage” but also to accomidate a larger #31 press bulb instead of the #6 (shown here with it’s matching socket adapter in place). And yes, all of this still works—if only I could find flash bulbs easy and cheap…

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    fantail media, sebastien.barre, and 27 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Lienchen's Photography [deleted] 99 months ago | reply

      Plesae add this to our Group Icon Competition!!
      Great Camera!!!

      123 Canon

    2. Jim Rees 85 months ago | reply

      I've got this same camera and lens. I had to repair some holes in the shutter curtains around 1971, but they have since completely rotted away. Some day I'll try to replace them. That lens was pretty good. I've never seen the flash unit before, thanks for posting that.

    3. pico di [deleted] 73 months ago | reply

      Thanks very much for posting information regarding the Canon B-II!

      I have one, too, had but no information. Maybe I should send you a few flashbulbs!


    4. benny ng 66 months ago | reply


      Fantastic set!!

      I'm an admin for a group called Canon Rangefinder (RF) Gear, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

      Do share your picture with us!

    5. Canon_Rebel_User 60 months ago | reply

      Wow nice camera but you must get through a lot of flash bulbs.

    6. lsgraulau 50 months ago | reply

      One mostly unrelated question: Do you know if flashes like that (or similar in appearance) are available for DSLR's especially Canon ones and if so can you link me to one that is on sale?

    7. Capt Kodak 50 months ago | reply

      You can pick up "bulb" flash units on Ebay. However, you'll need to have a DSLR that has a "PC" contact, you'll need to find the bulbs too (again Ebay), you may have to find a rare 22V battery from some models and you'll have to use a slow shutter speed to use them--like 1/20 of a second. When cameras used this type of flash, they would actually fire the flash before the shutter opened. It takes the magnesium filament a few moments to come to full brightness. This was call "M" sync and modern cameras don't have this.

      In short, it may not be worth the effort. Some lomo cameras have "bad" electronic flashes (on purpose) that will produce the hard lighting that this type of flash did--but you're talking about a film camera as well...

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