Canon S-II Camera
A Description of the Canon S-II produced 1946-1949
my Canon S-II from 1948
Canon S-II camera
In the aftermath of World War II, Seiki-Kogaku was vigorously seeking to re-establish production, as we saw on the page production of the Canon J-II camera. The Canon J-II was a stop-gap simplified Canon produced from the parts left over from the earlier Canon S and Canon J. Now, Seiki-Kogaku was now determined to produce a camera which would re-establish the Canon camera reputation of combining quality features with quality manufacture. The result was the Canon S-II introduced in October 1946.
Characteristics of the Canon S-II
The Canon S-II combined a number of new features:
- It was the first Japanese 35mm camera with a combined rangefinder/viewfinder. 1 Recall that the Canon Hansa Canon, the Canon S, and the Canon NS all had pop-up finders, separate from their rangefinders.
The Canon S-II for the first time combined the rangefinder and viewfinder. In fact, this was the only Canon rangefinder ever to feature a combined rangefinder/viewfinder without multiple focal-length views which was later introduced in 1949 with the Canon IIB.
- the Canon S-II had a new lens flange for the mounting of lenses. This is described further, below.
- it transitioned the camera identification engraved on the camera from "Seiki-Kogaku Tokyo" to "Canon Camera Company Ltd.", also described below.
- introduction of a new die-cast camera shell with stronger walls as well as easier assembly.
Canon S-II Lens Flange
With the Hansa Canon, the Canon S, and the Canon NS, the lens assembly was mounted in a Nippon-Kogaku manufactured focusing mount. This focusing mount was then screwed into a 39mm screw mount attached to the camera body. With the introduction of the Canon J, the Nippon-Kogaku focusing mount was no longer used, both for economy, and probably because supply of the Nippon-Kogaku mount was limited.
Nippon-Kogaku focusing mount
The Canon J introduced a new 39mm lens mount, which was somewhat different from the lens mount of Leica cameras. The J mount had a diameter of 39mm, identical to Leica, but the thread pitch of the mount was slightly different. The Leica flange had a thread pitch of 26 threads per inch. The Canon J mount flange used 24 threads per inch, so the threads in the mount were slightly wider than those of the Leica mount. 4 This difference meant that Leica screw mount lenses could not easily be screwed into Canon camera bodies.
With the Canon S-II, Canon introduced what they referred to as a "semi-universal mount" in which most, but not all Leica lenses could be mounted. This story ended when in mid-1951, Canon adopted a truly universal mount on the Canon IV and IIIA, and importantly in the widely-accepted Canon IVSB. 3
Seiki-Kogaku becomes Canon Camera Company Ltd
a Canon S-II of late 1947
On September 9, 1947 Seiki-Kogaku Kogyo Company Limited changed its name to Canon Camera Company Limited. 2 This change was reflected at the end of 1947 with the labeling on the top of the Canon S-II changed from "Seiki-Kogaku Tokyo" to "Canon Camera Company Ltd."
Success of the Canon S-II
Peter Dechert wrote in Canon Rangefinder Cameras 1933-1968:
"... Takeo Maeda had become de facto business manager and director of sales under Dr. Mitarai [Canon President]. The primary credit for Canon's success in the occupation post exchange market almost certainly belongs to him. [During the military occupation of Japan 1945-1949, the military Post Exchange network sold only to US and Allied military personnel and only in dollars.] With the S-II, Canon seems to have been the first camera manufacturer systematically to exploit this market... and they remained very active in it for many years. There is no question that the good reputation gained by Canons among occupation personnel eventually helped sales abroad, especially in Europe and North America." 1
a US military Post Exchange in Yokohama in 1946
Sales of the Canon S-II
Recovering from the economic and physical distruptions post-war, Canon was able to produce and sell 7,550 units of the S-II, about 30% as Seiki-Kogaku and 70% as Canon Camera Company, Ltd. These sales 1946 to 1949, including its marked success in selling into the Post Exchange system allowed Canon to prosper while developing the Canon IIB, launched in January 1949. As you can see in the canonrangefinder.org page on the Canon IIB this next camera model launched by Canon Camera Company was the seminal development in Canon rangefinder design. It also transformed the fortunes of Canon. You can read about the Canon IIB by clicking on the link below.
a Canon S-II of 1948 with Canon 5cm f2.0
You can click on the links in the table below to consult other pages of the canonrangfinder.org site.
Any additions or corrections to these pages would be welcome simply by contacting this site as shown at the foot of this page .
1 Dechert, Peter. Canon Rangefinder Cameras 1933-1968. Hove Collectors Books. West Sussex, United Kingdom. 1985. ISBN 0-906447-30-5.
Peter Dechert's book is the most important expert source of information regarding Canon Rangefinder Cameras.
2 Kitchingman, Peter. Canon M39 Rangefinder Lenses 1939-1971. A Collector's Guide. Published by Peter Kitchingman. Perth, Australia. 2008. ISBN 978-0-646-48144-9.
Peter Kitchingman's book is the definitive study of the more than three decades of M39 format camera lenses developed for Canon Rangefinder Cameras.
3 Nostalgic Canon Camera Book. 懐かしいキヤノン EI Publishing Co. Ltd. Tokyo, Japan. June 2003.
4 "Canon Camera Museum" history website. https://global.canon/en/c-museum/history/ published by Canon, Inc. accessed in 2019.
5 Rajner, Hans P. (author), John Wade (editor). Leica Copies. Classic Collections Publications. London, UK. ISBN 13: 9781874485056
Hans P. Rajner's book is an excellently detailed and carefully researched study of camera from around the world which used the Leica M39 lens mount and the same lens to film plane distance.
7 Dechert, Peter. Canon Single Lens Reflex Cameras 1959-1991. Historical Camera Publications. Yakima, Washington. 1992. ISBN 1-879561-04-2.
8 Tomlinson, Shawn M. The Film Photography Book. Lulu Pulbications. 2016. ISBN: 9781365263972
9 Sartorius., Ghester. Identifying Leica Lenses. Classic Camera 19. Tokyo, Japan. 2001. ISBN 4-257-12029-0
10 website http://www.nicovandijk.net/rflensmatrix.htm consulted 2019.
11 O'Reagan, Douglas M. Allied Exploitation of German Science after World War II. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, Maryland. 2019. ISBN 9781421428888
12 website www.canonrangefinder.servehttp.com consulted 2008.
13 Minolta expert Andrea Aprà has posted information on minoltarangefinders group and other groups and further detailed information by email. (thanks Andrea !)
14 website http://www.collection-appareils.fr/objectifs/ consulted 2019.
15 Small, Marc James. Non-Leitz Leica Thread-Mount Lenses. Wittig Books. Hückelhoven, Germany. 1997. ISBN 3-930359-47-2.
16 the Nikon Corporation website: https://imaging.nikon.com/history/ consulted 2019.
17 p 152. Ray, Sidney F. Photographic Lens ISBN 9780240510323
18 website http://www.rokkorfiles.com/Lens%20History.html accessed 2019
19 Katz, Jerome. The Kardon camera story: a dedication to Peter Kardon, great American patriot & pioneer. SJF Enterprises. New York, New York. 1977.
20 Dominique and Jean-Paul Francesch. Histoire de l'Appareil Photographique Minolta Dessain et Toira. Paris. 1985.
21 Asahi Camera.; Tokyo March 1954, February 1955.
22 P. H. van Hasbroeck. 150 Classic Cameras Sotherby's Publications. London. 1989.
If you have any comments or questions about this Canon Rangefinder site, please e-mail me (Larry Huffman) at e-mail address: email@example.com