Canon Self Timer on Model II S2

This Canon Model II D2 has attached to the shutter button a Canon Self-Timer II which will allow up to a 10 second delay in the shutter firing. The red circle on the arm rotates with the timing function giving a visual clue as to how long it is till the shutter releases, much like the flashing light on more modern cameras.

Canon Self-Timers

For years modern “electronic” cameras have had internal self timers that
would delay the camera shutter long enough to allow the operator to get
into the picture. The other major use
to is delay the shutter so that a tripod mounted camera can settle down and get over any camera vibrations that
may be present.

Before electronics, cameras such as
the F series, the Canonflexes, even the Canonets, and some of the “Point and Shoots”, had internal clockwork timers for this purpose. The first Canon camera with an internal timer was the Canon Model VT, introduced in April of 1956. 

But what of before 1956? Well, yes, there were timers available. And that is what we are about to discuss here. But first, some terminology. We shall refer to these external timers as “Self Timers” and internal timers as “internal  delayed action timers” or some variation on those words. I am hyphenating the words “Self” and “Timer” because Canon does so.

I came across these devices on E-bay and have acquired four of them. I can find almost no reference to them on-line and really know very little about them.  However, what I do know I will set out here.

I am not certain how many models there are or even what they are called. One has no designation other than “Canon Self-Timer” and as the others all have a number attached to them I am assuming this is the first model.

 I have also acquired the “Self-Timer II”, the “Self-Timer 6” and the “Self-Timer 8”. I do not know if there are timers 3, 4, 5 or 7. I have looked for them and to this point none have shown up in my searches.

 As a general comment, these are delightful little devices. They are very well made, all metal, and operate really well. On the “web” I found an image of a collection of these things. There were many manufacturers over the years and a couple of dozen different ones exist.  However, here we will only look at Canon offerings.

They all operate just like a common oven timer: you turn the dial or arm through 180 degrees, there is a stop device to hold it, and when you press the button or move the lever, the mechanism counts down and a plunger protudes from the bottom to depress the shutter button. They are a little wobbly on the camera but they do work reliably.

Canon Rangefinder

The bottom end of the Timer is a cup, threaded on the inside, that slips on over the sutter button and screws onto the threads. The plunger can then come down on the top of the button and depress it without pushing the mechanism off the camera.

This system worked well until the coming of the Canon Model VT in April of 1956. This was a revolutionary camera in many ways as Canon struggled against the popularity of the revolutionary Leica M3. Among other things that this camera had was a redesigned shutter button that had no collar and no thread bellow it to secure the Timer.


Canon Rangefinder

Attaching the Timer

On the left is a picture of the shutter button on a Model II D2 Rangefinder camera. You can see that it is surrounded by a high collar. This collar was a common feature of all models after the Model 1950 and Model III. Prior to that it still existed but was a much lower simpler affair.

Look at the picture. How do you attach a self-timer to this? The Timer has to attach in some manner so that the plunger that presses the shutter button does not push it off the camera. Well, the solution is in the next image directly below: the collar screws off revealing a thread that the Timer can attach to.


Canon Rangefinder

This new camera had a new attachment method that was to become standard acorss the industry for many years as a means for attaching a shutter release cable: the hole with the tapered thread in the center of the shutter button.

So, after 1956 Canon Self-Timers had to attach by screwing into this hole in the button. Otherwise the operation of the Self-Timers was unchanged.

TimerOf course, with the coming of the VT Delux model in February of 1957 Self-Timers moved indoors and became an internal part of the camera.


Canon Rangefinder

This Canon Model II S2 has the Canon “Self-Timer” atached to the shutter button. The name on the timer is simply “Self-Timer” and so I assume it is the first one made.


Canon Rangefinder

The Canon Self-Timer

This is the first timer I acquired. The name is simply “Self-Timer” leading me to think it is the first model produced. To mount it one removes the collar around the shutter button and screws the cup on the bottom onto the exposed threads.

To operate the timer one simply rotates the green dial in the direction of the arrow: clockwise. The button on top pops up when you start winding. The red dot goes from the 12 o’clock position to about 7 o’clock. To start the timer you simply push the button on the top.

The length of time can be set by not winding all the way. From 7 o’clock the time is about 10 seconds, from 4 o’clock it is about 5 seconds.

The picture shows a bright green wheel but I have emphasised that in the photo. In fact, on my copy the green is very dark and can be mistaken for black in dim light. The dot and arrow are actually red.



Canon System Brochure

 On page 17 of this Canon System of Photography brochure and price list published in March of 1956 this Self-Timer is shown in  pictures. It says it came in a vinyl case and cost $5.50.


Canon Self-Timer II

This Canon Model II D2 has three accessories mounted on it. The first is the 35mm view finder for the 35mm Serenar lens. The second is the Camera Holder for working on a tripod. The last one  is the Self-Timer II.

Canon Self-Timer II

The Canon Self-Timer II

The Self-Timer II operates exactly like the one above on pre-Model V rangefinder cameras: i.e. before the Model VT which was introduced in April of 1956. So we know it must have been made before 1956 or very close thereto.

The signal arm is turned counter clockwise to the 12 o’clock position. It is held there by a catch on the side of the unit until the shooter is ready. Then the side lever is tripped and the countdown of about 10 seconds begins.

I cannot say why the change from the previous meter described above but I can guess. The round wheel on the timer above is simply not visible from 10 or 15 feet away and so you have no indication of time remaining. The arm with the red circle is certainly more visible.

When timers were built into cameras you could watch the lever that was depressed to set the timer as it returned to its original position. Modern cameras do this with a flashing light that flashes faster and faster as the shutter release approaches. I have also come across sonic warning indicators. 

Like the one above, this is an effective timer. It is easy to use and requires little or no instruction.



Canon Self-Timer II

The name on this device suggests that it is the second timer Canon came out with. It also makes sense that it comes after the one above because it is more functional, the red circle on the arm being more visible during the countdown indicating remaining time.

Canon Self-Timer 6

This Canon Model L1 has the new style shutter button with an internal thread to accept a cable release or timer. Shown on the shutter button is the Canon Self-Timer 6.

Canon Self-Timer 6

The Canon Self-Timer 6

 With the Canon VT the form of the Canon rangefinder cameras changed. This was a result of the success of the Leica M3 and the need to meet it head on.

From the VT all the way to the fully electronic camera shutter buttons had the threaded hole in them for the use of a flexible cable release.

To take into account this change in camera structure the self timers had to adapt. Here in the Self-Timer 6 you can see that it screws into the shutter button. Otherwise it functions in exactly the same way. 

I have no idea about Self-Timers 3, 4 and 5. I can find no reference to them on the internet. I will continue to watch for them and update this page when I get more information.




Canon Self-Timer 6
Canon Self-Timer II

Here the Timer 8 is shown on a Canon Demi S, although, in the Manual for the Demi S they show the Self-Timer 6 as the correct timer. The Manual for the Canonex (page 27) also shows the Self-Timer 6.

The Canon Self-Timer 8

I found this Self-Timer 8 on E-bay but I have been unable to find any reference to it either in camera manuals or in catalogues. It functions exactly the same as the Self-Timer 6 so you have to question what it was intended for. However, I find that time solves all mysteries and this will be no different.

My timer came with the original box and the Instruction Sheet which, although it is not very helpful, does explain its purpose and operation.


Canon Self-Timer 8
Canon Self-Timer 8
Canon Self-Timer 8