Canon IIF2 - Rare and Fine in the Blur of Time

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by lou_meluso, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. In 1955, While I was still a gleam in my daddy's eye, Canon was busy making Leica type rangefinder cameras. While based in form and function on the Leica cameras of that era, Canon introduced some of it's own innovations such as the combined viewfinder/rangefinder that provided multiple magnifications. In that year they introduced their latest camera - the Model IIF2.
  2. I acquired this remarkably fine example, and some accessories, from a local collector I know who was thinning his collection. He called and asked if I wanted first dibbs. Knowing well the vastness and quality of his collection, I was over there in blur of speed like Superman turning back time. In some ways, I find using these old cameras is like turning back time and living a bit of history I never knew.
    Of the early Canon rangefinders, the Model IIF2 is something of a rarity with only about 2625 cameras ever made. This one shows the "EP" engraving which indicates it was purchased by U.S. military personnel at a PX. The Canon IIF2 is similar to the Canon llF, but has a new range of shutter speeds. It also has improved eyepiece optics. All the Canon models aound this time look similar and are a bit confusing but there is no doubt that this camera, in this condition, is a true photographic collectable.
  3. The build quality, fit and finish is excellent. It's rounded profile and compact size make it a delight to hold. The finder, while still small, was not nearly as squinty as the earlier models. However there are no framelines. The finder is emaculate and the shutter, with speeds from 1-1/500, T, B, is Swiss-watch perfection. The shutter release is uniquenly smooth and precise feeling. The film advance, by knob wind, has a smooth, positive feel.
    With the base plate removed and the condition of the interior and spring loaded take-up spool, I get the distinct impression that this camera has never seen a roll of film in it's 57 year life. I can understand how one can become intranced by such a remarkably precise, beautifully assembled, miniature machine. As an object alone, it's something to be admired.
  4. The lens is a Canon Serenar 50mm f/1.8 in standard LTM mount. The serial # indicates this lens is type 4 produced 4/53-7/56. (according to Kitchingman) In later versions, Canon dropped the Serenar name. It is a coated, Gauss type with six elements in four groups.
    I was thinking that I should put this fine, collectable camera in my camera safe to retain it's beauty and value. But then....Naaaah! At least I should shoot ONE roll just to insure everything is working, right? So I do the bottom load dance and head out to give it a spin. Here are a few pics from my test roll of Fuji Superia 400. Exposures determined by eye.
  5. #1 The Edge of the Woods
  6. #2 Corner of the Smoke House
  7. You were at the right place at the right time, Louis. Beautiful camera. Hope we can see some
    photos soon.
  8. They're a comin, Rod.
    Trees Against a Wall
  9. Oops, picked the wrong file
    #3 Trees against the Wall
  10. #4 Chicken Coop
  11. #5 The Side of a Storage Building
  12. #6 Portrait of Alex
  13. The camera performed perfectly. The Canon lens is sharp with smooth bokeh. Some softening in the corners was seen but cleared up by f/4. There is a real satifaction in using a quality classic rangefinder camera. I may just have to put another roll, or ten, through it in the days to come. Oh, and did I mention I got some accesories with it?
  14. What a catch! I'm glad for you that you got hold of such a wonderful setup. Your pictures are a delight, too. #s 1, 2, 3, and 6 are superb.
  15. Man, that is a sweet camera. Beautiful pics Louis. How do you compare it against a Leica M?
  16. What a beautiful find and a fine presentation Louis. The pictures are very nice especially the portrait of Alex is captivating. I have a IIB somewhere mounted with a Jupiter-8, and can understand your comments around the fine rangefinders Canon built; mine is not in the condition yours appears here however, and the rangefinder is very dim. Once again, thanks for sharing with us.
  17. Beautiful camera and photos, as well as an interesting review/presentation.
    The chicken coop photo is quite nice. Fine portrait as well.
    It looks like you've acquired a work of art. I'm sure you'll enjoy it for a good long while.
    Thanks for sharing.
  18. Now that's what I call a fine collection...What a wonderful outfit, complete with all the cases and accessories. Great presentation, Louis, and the images are as good as we've come to expect; #'s 1, 2, & 3 would be running neck and neck for my choice of favourite. Thanks for a great post.
  19. Holy Toledo, that camera is awesome, Louis! That shiny steel finish with all the knobs make it look like a fancy pocket watch. And your pictures are amazing. I especially liked "Trees Against A Wall" and the portrait of Alex. Everything is so incredibly sharp, and it looks you really nailed the exposure.
  20. i looked at this camera for a long time - a real work of art! And excellent pics. thanks for the post.
  21. A wonderful presentation for a very deserving LTM 35mm rangefinder. The innovative variable, 50/100/135 focal length viewfinder developed by Canon deserves another mention.
    It's awesome that you have such a full system of lenses and accessories for the IIF2. For example: I used to have a Canon P and was never able to acquire the tripod attachment that centered the lens with the head of the tripod. You have both the tripod attachment and its case.
    As for the lens signature when shot wipe open, just go with the flow. My modern AF lens for my digital Nikon aren't that sharp or contrasty in the corners wide open and they vignette by at least an f/stop.
  22. Louis--really nice!
    Great photos, too.
    What is the "Auto Up" accessory?
  23. Looks like the Auto-Up is a close focus diopter along with goggles to correct the RF and VF.
  24. Louis - I just had glimpse of your gallery. I must say, it's very impressive.
  25. Very enjoyable. I rmember Konica ued to sell an "Auto Up" accessory for the C35. I think it must be a clumsy translation of a Japanese term.
  26. Hi Louis,
    Great post and remarkable pictures! We must commend you for your decision not to put the camera directly in a safe. Keep posting your results!
  27. The finders even on this last generation of Canon bottom-loaders are still pretty "squinty". I got a IV-SB2 to "improve" on my II-F, and it was a rather small improvement in the finder. A Canon P, 7, or 7s is a totally different experience, which is more like a Leica M. (But none of the Canon rangefinders have the "sharp edged" moving image of a Leica M, that's unique to that much more complicated rangefinder.) That's why my primary rangefinder camera is my Canon 7s.
  28. As for construction quality, both my II-F and IV-SB2 are quite beautiful inside. I think the parts quality and precision are higher than my Leica IIIa. Leica had a lot of "select at test" parts, and may have had to adjust (file) parts at test. Canon looks to have taken Deming's approach to heart, everything looks so precise inside, I suspect that there was a lot less fiddling to get the cameras working.
    Painful side is that it's harder to change the shutter curtains on the Canon, since they have to be absolutely precisely located on a jig that isn't available anymore. On the Leica IIIc and later, there's adjustment points for the 1/500 and 1/1000 shutter speeds that make assembly of the shutter curtains far less critical.
  29. gorgeous! i'm officially envious.
  30. Wonderful story, pictures, and camera p o r n.
    Even though I've not been tempted by these before, envy is certainly the emotion of the day. Thanks for sharing.
  31. Louis -- wonderful story, and your photos are excellent. That's one fine camera.
  32. It is a beautiful camera and I think you should put lots of films through it. They really are for using while film is still available and I am really pleased that you have exhibited here.
  33. Wow, Louis. Those are really very nice pictures, especially the portrait. The camera is a beauty as well but what you consistently do with them amazes me. I think I've gotten more inspiration from your photos and Rick Drawbridge's than any books or magazines I've looked at anytime recently. Thanks very much for another outstanding post.
  34. What a nice surprise to come home from work and see all these replies. Thank you all so much. I appreciate your comments, contributions and kind words about the post and these few humble pictures.
  35. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Very Nice Louis I have a 1951 model III with a Rapid Winder on the bottom and I have the 35mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.8 lenses for it. Both the black and chrome late 50's early 60's era lenses. A pleasure to play with.
  36. Great fine and images. Thanks for sharing.

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