This Image of the S-I is from the very excellent Pacific Rim Camera Photographica Pages. If you click on the image that page will open with further views of this camera. (I do not own one to take my own pictures, and am unlikely to).

Canon Model S-I

If you are holding this camera, don’t drop it! This is a rare valuable item. Your camera appears to be a model S-I with the following distinguishing features (well actually, everything about this camera is distinctive):


  • No Model Name on Camera
  • Top Shutter Speed 1/500th
  • Has Slow Speed Dial
  • No View Finder Lever
  • Has a Rangefinder
  • Knob Winder
  • Nippon Kogaku Focusing Unit
  • Pop-up Viewfinder

During the War Canon was producing optical equipment for the military including cameras. One of these was theĀ  Canon S which was produced from 1938 thru 1945. However, as the war dragged on things became more chaotic in Japan, communications and transportation broke down, supplies were hard to come by, and output fell. By the time the war was over the situation was impossible.

Tokyo was in ruins, although the Canon facilities were remarkably intact. The Canon staff were scattered across the country, there were no raw materials or supplies and there was no market for cameras. It was bleak. And yet, by October of 1945 Seiki Kogaku began the struggle to rebuild.

Prior to 1945 Canon production statistics are sketchy or totally unavailable and so this period is largely based on recollections of staff from that time. It would appear that the first camera to be produced after the war was the Canon S-I. These were assembled in the period December 1945 thru November 1946 and estimates of the number produced is between 80 and 100. They were assembled from available parts on hand and as such are identical to the Model S produced during the war. As serial numbers were never sequential it is impossible to be sure if the camera in hand is a Model S or an S-I.

No matter which you are holding, it is a rare important piece of Canon History.