Canon IV RF Camera Test Report

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by marc_bergman|1, Nov 22, 2017.

  1. Modern Photography magazine, in their November 1952 issue, had a test report on the Canon IV rangefinder camera.

  2. Ernst Leitz, Wetzlar is having some difficulty with E. Leitz, Inc., New York according to this month's Behind the Scenes column.

  3. Here are this month's camera equipment ads.

  4. Here are this month's dealer ads.

  5. Great look back. Really enjoyed the article on color negative film.
  6. Thanks for posting these.

    The whole presentation of Canon effectively being a new name on the market-and the reluctance toward Japanese made cameras as a whole-was quite enlightening and I'm sure the story would have been quite different even 5 years later.

    I've said this before, but I really think that Canon out-Leicaed Leica with the IV series rangefinders, and overall made what are probably overall some of the best LTM cameras made. The IV is a bit chunkier and perhaps a bit less elegant than a Leica III, but the zoomable combined rangefinder/viewfinder makes up for that for me. I have two 50mm 1.8 Serenars-one in chrome and one in black. They may not be AS good as a Summicron, but their cost is more in line with a nice Elmar and they are still great little lenses.
  7. I'm pretty much in agreement with Ben on the Canon outfit reviewed. The IV was, in fact, my first interchangeable lens rangefinder. Well, to be more precise, mine was the IVsb, of which Canon made lots. It's probably the most common LTM Canon found these days. I bought mine from a pawn shop back in about 1983. Paid $75 for it. It came with a Kyoei Super Acall 135mm f/3.5 lens and that was it. I picked up a chrome 50mm f/1.8 for it at a camera show about a year later. It was cheap. Back then, Canon rangefinders still were not very highly thought of within the greater photo community. I can recall, back when I first started operating as a camera dealer back in 1989, I bought a 50mm f/0.95 for not much money and sold it for not much. 50mm f/1.2s -- couldn't get more than about $70 for one of 'em. The more common bodies often sold for less than $100. But the Hansa was already legendary, although nobody I knew ever had one either in their personal collections or for sale.

    I sold my IVsb during a time of too much gear and not enough $$$. But I couldn't stay away from Canon LTM cameras. These days I have two IIIa models, one standard, and another one that had X/fp pc connectors added to it. The IIIa is basically identical to the IVsb except it doesn't have the flash rail. That added on PC connector on one of my IIIa's is much more handy than the useless proprietary flash rail found on the IVsb. Most recently I bought a Canon P, which came with a nice case with a hump to accommodate the meter that could be mounted to the cold shoe. Best of all about my P -- its shutter curtains aren't wrinkled. Very unusual for a P. I have a decent selection of lenses now -- 35/3.2, 50/1.8, 100/4 -- all chrome Serenars, the 35 and 100 have their own leather cases with viewfinders -- and I bought another Kyoei Super Acall 135/3.5 to match the one I sold years ago.
  8. The Canon reviews and ads are interesting. IIRC a Canon RF was featured in the "Tora, Tora Tora" film on the Pearl Harbor attack; a Japanese pilot uses it for documentation.. Japanese cameras and industry were much underrated until the Korean war, and the article insists on a good repairman making adjustments. I agree with Ben that Canon went to the limit in LTM design, especially with the Canon 7.

    The undercurrent is quite clear. "Japan is on the other side of the world and we have no way of determining what kind of qualtity control is exercised in manufacture", this written at the same time when Deming was lighting the fire. Canon was there to stay. Nikon was also investing in ads.

    The stereo article is great. I am old enough to have seen the Cinerama exhibitions, including the one from Aida, but I had no idea it came from a plane gun trainer.

    Rollei was "Master of Action" and a Retina IIa was automatic. Those were the days.

    Thanks Marc for these posts, a forum highlight.
  9. In a lot of ways, I think what we see with Canon is what Leica WOULD have done had they continued developing LTM instead of moving to the M mount and corresponding bodies.

    I agree too on the Canon 7. It has a BIG, bright finder with parallax corrected projected frame lines. The only thing it really lacks vs. an M series Leica is that you have to manually select the frame lines. Still, it beats the heck out of using an external finder.

    The biggest downside I see to the 7 is that it's big. My 50mm 3.5 Elmar looks almost comically small on it. I've said before that the resemblance to the Canonflex RM is quite strong, and I find that the cameras also handle similarly.

    The IV finder is still a bit squinty, but when it's zoomed I find it easier to focus than a Leica III rangefinder. Of course, it still needs an external finder for anything wider than 50mm, but at least one isn't required with longer lenses.

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