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Canon IIIA Camera

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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Taken on September 10, 2006