Canon S Rangefinder Camera

A Description of this model produced 1938-1945


Canon S

Canon S of 1939


Introduction of the Canon S


In October 1939, to expand the slow moving sales of the Canon Hansa, the Precision Optical Industry Co., Ltd. - 精機光学研究所 - introduced its first new model: the Canon S or 'Standard' model. Production of the Canon Hansa ended in 1940, while the Canon S continued through WW2, but at a reduced level.


Canon S Characteristics


The Canon S was in most of its construction similar to the Canon Hansa. The changes made were intended to make use more easy, and attractive to users. First, slow shutter speeds of 1 second, 1/2 second, 1/4 second, 1/8 second and 1/20 second were added on a separate dial, located on the front of the camera. Previously, 1/20 second was the longest shutter exposure offered on the Canon Hansa. Also, a 'bulb' exposure marked 'Z' was added, but no time exposure setting.


The slow shutter speed dial had a lever attached to make adjustment easier.


Canon S slow dial

Canon S slow shutter speed dial, with lever


Also, the film frame counter was moved from the front of the camera - where in the case of the Hansa, it had interfered with the photographer's grip of the camera - to the top, underneath the film advance knob, next to the shutter release.


Canon S film counter

Canon S film counter


Also, the top structure which enclosed the rangefinder was expanded to the fast shutter speed dial in a superstructure shape similar to the Leica II of the 1930s.


Canon S top


The camera continued to feature a Nikkor 5cm f3.5 lens, bayonet mounted into a Nikkor focusing mounting. Also, a Nikkor 5cm F2.0 was offered as shown below. However, the 5cm f3.5 lens was the lens most often sold 2.


Production of the Canon S


By 1942 with World War 2 totally engaging Japanese manufacturing only a small number of Canon S cameras continued to be produced with perhaps 20 going to the Imperial Navy. There were further small numbers of Canon S cameras assembled in 1943 and 1944 for journalists and for the military, but with no further commercial sales to the public. 1. So 1944 was the final year of the Canon S which had established Canon as a successful maker of a quality 35mm camera.


Canon S

1939 Canon S with 5cm f3.5 white face Nikkor lens in the Nikkor bayonet focusing mount.

the button on the Nikkor focusing mount just below the rangefinder window was to release the lens from being locked at infinity.


1939 Nikkor 5cm f2

1939 5cm f2.0 Nikkor lens with black interior in the Nikkor bayonet focusing mount

f stops were set on the outer ring of the lens


You can click on the links in the table below to consult these pages of the site.


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Canon Rangefinder Cameras - 1 Canon Rangefinder Cameras - 2 Canon Rangefinder Lenses
Canon S Canon IVSB2 Canon 19mm
Canon J Canon IIS2, IID2, IIF2 Canon 25mm
Canon NS Canon VT, Canon L2 Canon 28mm
Canon JS Canon L1, L3 Canon 35mm
Canon J-II Canon VT Deluxe Nikkor 50mm
Canon S-II Canon VL, VL2 Canon 50mm
Canon IIB Canon VI-L, VI-T Canon 85mm
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Canon IIIA, IVF, IVS Canon 7 Canon 135mm
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Canon IVSB Minolta Rangefinders Minolta Lenses
Canon IIF, IIS Other Rangefinders other M39 lenses
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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.
Peter Kitchingman's book is the definitive study of the more than three decades of M39 format camera lenses developed for Canon Rangefinder Cameras.
4 "Canon Camera Museum" history website. 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 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 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 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: consulted 2019.
17 p 152. Ray, Sidney F. Photographic Lens ISBN 9780240510323
18 website accessed 2019

If you have any comments or questions about this Canon Rangefinder site, please e-mail me (Larry Huffman) at e-mail address: