The announcement of the release of the cameras under the name "Kwanon" was posted in the summer of 1934 by Seiki-Kogaku Kenkyusho, in the magazine "Asahi Camera".

Seiki-Kogaku Kenkyusho was first renamed the Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory and then the Canon brand. The firm was originally housed in a small office building in Tokyo.

Kwanon was the development of Goro Yoshida (1900-1993), who dreamed of producing cameras for 135 type (35mm) film in Japan, which in quality would be no worse than the cameras of the best manufacturers of that time - Leica and Contax, but would be cheaper. The name "Kwanon" comes from the similar name of the Buddhist goddess of mercy - Goro Yoshida was a believer. The lens that came with the camera was called "KasyaPa," after the Buddha's disciple. The lens is very similar to Leitz Elmar, focusing distance markings in meters.

Subsequently, from a small office, the company grew into a global giant of Japanese mechanical engineering.

Kwanon models:

Kwanon model A

The Kwanon A had an identical Leica cocking disc. shutter, combined with the frame counter located on the front cover of the camera.

The shutter could handle shutter speeds from 1/20 to 1/500. The rewind disc has therefore been moved upward to make room for the long exposure handle. The film ran from reel to reel, and there was no need for a rewind knob. The viewfinder and rangefinder were housed on the top cover, just like the Leica II. This is the only camera model without marking on the top cover. It was speculated that this prototype had no functionality.

Kwanon model B

A month after the first model was announced, Seiki Kogaku Kenkujo advertised the release of the Model B, however, the camera was similar to the previous one, only it had an engraved top cover. The camera was probably also a prototype.

Kwanon model C

Two months later, in September 1934, the third version was published.

Since Leica had patented a viewfinder and rangefinder of its own design even before World War II, the future Canon company could not use it in its models, so the company turned to Nippon Kogaku, the largest optics manufacturer in Japan at that time, in the hope of finding a way to use a different type. viewfinder. By 1935, a new chassis design was developed and produced.

kwanon camera 5

A folding viewfinder of the "Albada" type was used in the camera. This type of viewfinder was later used on the Hansa Canon range.

Thanks in part to their experiences with Hansa and Kwanon, Nippon Kogaku produced their own first 35mm Nikon I cameras, however, in 1948. The legacy of this landmark collaboration has been the development of both Canon and Nikon into the two largest camera manufacturers today.

A non-working Kwanon Model C camera with serial number "2" was auctioned off in the USA in 2006 for 138 thousand dollars.

Kwanon model D

On the D model, the cocking knob shutter was moved to the top cover, leaving only the frame counter disc on the front of the case, like in Canon Hansa. Since the existing images of this model are of incomprehensible origin and poor quality, it is believed that the Model D and Yansa Canon cameras are one and the same.

Kwanon model X

This model is an early version of the Kwanon, bought by a Canon employee from a dealer in Osaka in the late 1950s. Perhaps this is one of the surviving cameras made before 1933. Possibly an advertising prototype for cameras produced between 1937 and 1940. Has a Kashyap 50mm f3.5 lens. There is no frame counter on the front of the camera, it is located at the top, and is combined with the gear knob shutter, the cover itself with the viewfinder is very similar to that used in the Leica II camera. On the Canon Digital Museum website, in the section dedicated to this model, there is a picture similar to this prototype.

Some sources mention that several models were used for advertising purposes.


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