Canon Canonflex RM

This is the camera I received from Brian (all of these pictures are) with the new top plate. Like Brian, I think I will not install it because it is interesting as it is.

Canonflex RM

The most common of the Canonflex cameras, with a production run
of about 72,000, is the Canonflex
RM. This camera has a built in
selenium light meter. These are
notable because they are basically
a photo cell and they provide their
own power. They are not as sensitive as later types of meters but they don’t need a battery.

They were introduced in 1962 and were the last of the “Flex” cameras. In this model Canon moved the film advance lever to the top right hand corner of the camera body doing away with the bottom wind system which was never popular. The film advance is still awkward and not as smooth as the advance found on the F and later series cameras.

This line of cameras was replaced by the first of the F Series, the Canon FX, which was launched in 1964 with the new FL breech-lock lens mount system.

The details of my own copy of this camera are:

Released:            April 1962

Serial No:          178254

Lens Mount:      Canon R

Condition:         Condition is excellent with a dent in the top left corner (which I discuss below)

Acquisition:      This camera body was acquired on the 24th of January 2016 from E-bay

An now for a camera story! I found this camera on E-bay. It was outside what I was finding on the local Craig’s list and I was anxious to start extending my collection back in time. I bought the camera and in the process exchanged e-mails with the seller who, as it turned out, lived only a few miles from my home. His name is Brian and he too has been a Canon collector but he is now selling his collection. (My kind of guy!)

Anyway, he got the camera to me and I was thrilled with it. Clean, pretty, a joy to hold. This is a solid heavy camera that feels really well built. It is a shadow of things to come in the “F” Series. This one I intend to shoot some film with.

NoteAnd in the package he included a second lens, a 50mm f/1.8 R Series lens for the Canonflex but it was obvious it had been hit on the front edge heavily. The glass is clear and excellent but the front of the lens barrel has been damaged and the iris no longer work. Worse, it is stuck at about f/11 making focus very difficult. A project for the future which I will report on fully. (I have already ordered the necessary lens spanner and other tools to have a go at this little treasure!)

In the E-bay ad for the camera Brian told about its history. I’ll let him tell it again in his own words:

“This is an interesting package … I always enjoyed cameras with a story, and this RM has a somewhat interesting twist in its early life.  During a demo, brand new out of the box at the dealer’s counter, a potential customer dropped this camera in the store! It wasn’t a hard landing onto the carpeted floor, but it dented the top cover (see photos).  The dealer ordered a new OEM Canon replacement top and while waiting for it to arrive put the camera way and then after a few months forgot completely about it, and when the top arrived (apparently many months later) it was tossed into a drawer and never installed.  Then, some number of years later, upon rediscovery of the camera and replacement top in a back drawer of the storeroom, the dealer sold the camera and the new top to friend of mine (a fellow collector who knew the store manager at the time), and who then used the camera for a couple of years as was (the dent has absolutely no effect whatsoever on the functionality of the camera).  Then I bought the camera, about 25 years ago from my friend, and I never changed out the top either because it was a nice display piece with an interesting story (as I said, I like cameras with a bit of a story to them). ………..

By the way, the serial number of the camera is 178254 (with the final ‘Passed’ sticker in place) and the serial number of the new top is 192072 (without the ‘Passed’ sticker installed because of course, no camera was never assembled, inspected and ‘passed’ with that top in place).  

You can imagine the process of somebody having to pull that new top out of the factory assembly line to fill the order for the store, and you can see by the serial number difference how long it took for that process to actually take place and for the top to be sent to the dealer … no wonder they forgot all about it by the time the new top finally arrived!  Certainly an interesting story to this RM … and because of it I enjoyed the camera the way you see it in my photos, with the original dent in place and new cover sitting off to one side behind it on display … it was always a great conversation piece. “

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Hansa CanonSo you may be asking yourself, “what’s with Bell & Howell”? Well, that’s a marketing question. When Canon was ready to market their first camera they had no sales channels. They were not the large company they are today and they had very little clout in the market place. In fact, probably none. So Precision Optical entered into a marketing agreement with Omiya Shashin Yohin Co. Ltd.. “Hansa” was one of their trademarks. And so the camera came out as the Hansa Canon.

Fast forward to the late 1950’s. Canon had no distribution channels in the United States. When first introduced in the US Canon had a distribution agreement with Scopus, Inc.. Later in the 60’s Canon was distributed by Bell & Howell and made cameras that sold under their brand name. Later Canon developed its own distribution channels which allowed it to achieve much higher sales volumes. But, when your the new kid on the block, you need a hand up.

Oh, there’s one more thing, to quote Steve Jobs. Look at that lens in the ad. Classic double gaussian! You remember, we discussed this lens in the article on the Nifty Fifty. Hey, this web site is just full of information!!!

Canon LogoThis page is not a review of this Canon equipment but rather a record of an item in my collection. I have no connection with Canon and receive no remuneration nor benefit for this listing. It is for my own use and possibly your enjoyment!.