Canon Canonet

This is the original first model of the Canon Canonet.
(Image from the Canon Museum)

The Canonet

Canon begins to “Point and Shoot”

The camera business has always been competitive and especially so in the 1960’s. Canon was well established in the serious amature and professional camera scene but this encompassed only a small percentage of people who wanted to take pictures. There was a vast market for cameras that did not have all the features of the SLR’s, that was easy to use, and that would take an excellent picture. It was the market that would one day be the domain of the “point and shoot” camera. And it was here that Canon set its sights in 1961.

In January of 1961 Canon brought out the first model 

of the Canonet to what the Canon Museum says was market “uproar upon learning that Canon, Maker of high-end cameras, was to introduce a mid-class 35mm camera with a fast f/1.9 lens”. It was a good move. In under three years a million Canonets were sold. Between then and 1972 fourteen models came out with continuing strong sales. For this reason this excellent little camera is found at every swap meet, garage sale and auction.

There have to be limits on every collection. I would love to collect them all but there is no room and no money and no time. So I have limited myself to Canon rangefinder and SLR cameras. Still a wide field. But once I held a Canonet and felt its weight and obvious quality build, I decided to include them in my range of interest. When I was shooting film I never came across one of these cameras but I certainly intend to take a few of them for a walk and a few rolls of film.

From the very first model these cameras incorporated a built-in light meter and auto exposure. But the technology was advancing and the competition was always on their heels. New models were introduced to stay ahead of the other companies in the market; models with names like Canonet Junior, Canonet S, Canonet 17 and others. These are all beautiful cameras.

Bell & Howell marketed various Canonets such as the Canonet 28, Canonet 17 and Canonet 19 in America as the Bell & Howell Auto 35/28 or as themselves with the Bell & Howell / Canon logos on the front above the lens.

Beginning in 1970 Canon introduced several cameras that were, according to Canon, not part of the Canonet lineup, such as the Canodate, Datematic and A35 in different models. However, they so resemble the Canonet 28 in size, feel and operation that I chose to include them in my collection and this discussion.

The Canonets by Date of Introduction

Here is a list of the Canonet Series of film cameras and their dates of introduction. I have also listed a few I want to include that Canon says are not actually Canonets. Ones I have already acquired are in a light blue.


Camera Introduced Camera Introduced
Canonet Jan 1961 New Canonet QL 17-L July 1969
Canonet Junior Apr 1963 New Canonet 28 Mar 1971
Canonex Oct 1963 New Canonet QL 19 May 1971
Canonet S Oct 1964 Canonet G-III 17 Mar 1972
Canonet QL 17 Mar 65 Canonet G-III 19 Mar 1972
Canonet QL 19 Mar 1965 Canodate E Dec 1970
Canonet QL 25 Oct 1965 Canodate E-N Mar 1973
Canonet QL 19E Nov 1965 Datematic Nov 1974
Canonet 28 Dec 1968 A 35 Datelux Oct 1977
New Canonet QL 17 July 1969 A35F Mar 1978


Bell & Howell also marketed the Canonet under licence from Canon.


Camera Introduced Camera Introduced
Bell & Howell Auto 35/28 Jan 1969 Bell & Howell Canonet 28 ?
Bell & Howell Canonet 17 ? Bell & Howell Canonet 19 1961

Canonets and related Cameras in my Collection

Canon Canonet 28

The Canonet 28
December 1968

Canon Canonet

The Original Canonet
January 1961

Canon Canonet Junior

The Canonet Junior
April 1963

Canon Canonet 28

The A35 Datelux
October 1977

Canon Canonet GL17

The Canonex
October 1963

Canon Canonet GL17

The Canonet QL17
March 1965

Canon Canonet 28

The A35 F
March 1978

Canon Logo I am not in any way connected to or supported by Canon. I chose their camera line and have stayed with it. I cannot recall why. But a Nikon camera is fine technology and takes a wonderful picture. So too with Sony and the others. But I have been happy with Canon and so I have begun my collection here. One day I may add other brands to my range interest. But that is for another day.