M39 Lens Mount Rangefinder Cameras


A Description of Other M39 Lens Mount Rangefinder Cameras



Kardon 35mm

a Kardon 35mm with Kodak Ektar 47mm f2.0 and Kodak Lykemar 35mm f3.5 lens


The Kardon 35mm Rangefinder


At the outset of US war with Germany in 1941, the US government seized control of most Germany assets in the US, including the E. Leitz Company of New York. Since the US military could not purchase the leading German cameras in wartime, the Army directed E. Leitz of New York to manufacture Leica IIIa cameras. However, by 1943, it was apparent that the New York Leitz repair facility was not capable of manufacturing a Leica IIIa.


Then, Peter Kardon, a naturalized US citizen born in Odessa in the Ukraine, decided to act. He was head of the Premier Instrument Corporation, which had camera expertise. Using the Leica information in the E. Leitz New York facility, he proceeded to construct copies of Leica IIIa cameras. He found, however, that the design of the Leica IIIa was not compatible with mass production - only for hand craftsmanship of each camera. Kardon therefore embarked on designing components capable for mass production techniques. However, just when he was producing cameras in some volume, the war ended and his Army contracts were cancelled. 19


Kardon then began commercial sales to the civilian market in 1946, but his costs and therefore his selling price was not competitive with imported Japanese and Germany 35 mm cameras. A partial reprieve came from the Army in 1945, with the order of a cold weather version of his camera. This is the model shown in the photographs here. You can see the raised shutter release in the photograph below which allowed operation of the camera with gloves.


Kardon 35mm front back

Kardon 35mm showing US Army Signal Corps identification


However, Kardon production continued to be uneconomic, and Peter Kardon died in 1948 at age 62 of complications from a stomach ulcer, likely brought on by these difficulties. Kardon camera production ceased in 1955 - an amazing story. 19


Lenses for the Kardon 35mm Rangefinder


The US Army arranged for Eastman Kodak to produce lenses which could be used with the Kardon rangefinder. The usual normal lens for the Kardon was a Kodak Ektar 47mm f2.0. Eastman Kodak also produced a Kodak Lykemar 35mm f3.5 lens, which could also be used for Army close-up photography - perhaps for copy work.


Kodak Ektar Kodak Lykemar

(l) Kodak Lykemar 35mm f3.5 lens and (r) the Kodak Ektar 47mm f2.0 lens

you can see the engraving "Premier Instrument Corporation" on the 47mm lens mount, indicating that Peter Kardon's company manufactured the lens mount.



Honor S1

Honor S1 of 1959 with 50mm Hexanon f1.8 lens


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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. 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.

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