Saturday, August 29, 2009

Close, but no Leica

Hansa Canon. c. 1937
The original model of Canon was the production version of the Kwanon, named for a Buddhist deity. It was originally a response to a call from the Emperor of Japan to the Japanese people to develop domestic technology and industry. The company that produced it, Seiki Kogaku (Precision Optical), was a new company that had never designed or marketed anything, much less a precision 35mm rangefinder camera. It was not a copy of the Leica, but rather a response to it. Great effort was made to avoid infringing upon patents by Leitz and Zeiss. Stumped by the German patents on rangefinder design, and lacking resources to develop their own optics, they turned to another Japanese company, Nippon Kogaku (Japan Optical), to help them out. Nippon Kogaku provided Seiki Kogaku with the rangefinder and focus mount design, as well as building the rangefinders and providing the lenses.

Text & photo © Pacificrimcamera

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