Canon screwmount questions and request for suggestions

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by r s, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. r s

    r s

    I like classic, older cameras and I like building up a kit that is as 'accurate' as possible when it comes to body, lens, shade, etc.

    I just recently bought a Canon VT deluxe (photos here and with it a Canon 50/1.8 lens.

    First impressions are 'holy cow!'Love the viewfinder - switching from 35-50-RF(not sure what RF does yet) is amazing and the rangefinder is accurate and BRIGHT and CONTRASTY. Hmmm..not sure I should say this so close to my M3 but so far it is at least as good as the M3 in that respect. Awesome. Can't wait to take it out this weekend.

    Not having used classic Canon cameras before I got some questions that a) are bound to be annoying to people who think caring about your camera is ridiculous and all you should do is pick up a digital camera and take a thousand shots a day - and b) may be very Canon- newbie quesions.
    Still hoping that some kind soul out there will be able to help me :)

    1. My current 50/1.8 - shade
    The kit I bought came with a lens shade but not the one that goes with this lens. It came with a "Canon series VI" lens hood for 50/1.9 or 35/3.5. The shade is metal and in as-new condition.
    What's the 'correct' shade for the 1.8 lens? 40mm shade?
    What does "Series VI" refer to and what other series are there?

    2. Recommendation for a 35 and faster 50mm lens
    What contemporary - to my body from 1957 - 35mm and faster-than-1.8 50mm Canon lenses are there that I should be looking for?
    How is the 50/1.2 from that era? Serial number ranges to keep in mind for either lens would be greatly appreciated.
    Are these lenses refered to as "S Mount" lenses?
    Serenar vs Canon?
    I like to have fun using my cameras as well as challenging myself to build kits like that. So sue me :)

    3. Using external finder
    The kit came with a 50mm Lumi-View finder. Would be interested to hear from anyone here who is using a camera like this what your thoughts are on using the built in finder vs external ones for various focal lengths.

    4. Manual
    Does anyone know where I could find a scanned instructions manual?
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Your lens shade sounds great. Use it (if 40mm).
    There may be several "correct" shades, for all I know. The only one I've seen is "clamp-on": there's a screw that loosens it; you push it on, you tighten up the screw. It's not vented. Walz made a vented alternative. Thus the inauthentic is better than the authentic.
    The 35/1.8 and 50/1.2 were released in April '56, the second version of the 35/2.8 in March '57 (I don't know about the first version), the 35/1.5 in August '58, the 50/1.4 in August '59. All that info is from Miyazaki's large and elusive book (it seems to be rarer than a number of Canon "rarities"), and Peter Kitchingman's site is likely to be more authoritative.
    I've never used the 50/1.2 and don't much want to: it's bigger and heavier than the 50/1.4 for a tiny gain in maximum aperture and (people seem to say) a general loss in quality.
    "S mount" lenses may be Leica screw mount. I don't think it ever means "Serenar". Serenar was the name for Seiki Kōgaku's lenses, "Canon" for its cameras; the company renamed itself Canon and then renamed its lenses Canon too.
    I do have a little experience using the monster turret/zoom Canon viewfinder: 28mm to 50mm plus 85mm to 135mm if I remember correctly. It's large, heavy, and the view is inferior to that provided by the Soviet turret finder. If you have lots of money, time, or both, you'll instead want to collect the set of finders that are designed to mate with the parallax correction prong: 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm, and 135mm. Quite aside from the parallax correction, these are good. They're also useless on any other camera, unless you use them in conjunction with some device to stop them flopping down to the minimal distance. (Canon may have made such a doodad, but if it did this is not something that you'll be able to find, other perhaps from the "Arsenall" joker.)
    You don't need an instruction manual. In case you're worrying, the instruction manual for the lever wound equivalent says that it's OK to change shutter speeds before winding on. Any other worries?
  3. r s

    r s

    Peter, thanks for your reply! Your lens shade sounds great. Use it (if 40mm).
    Unfortunately it doesn't fit on this lens - too big.

    Walz made a vented alternative.
    What is the Walz-Canon relationship? The lens came with a very nice chrome, metal lens cap that screws onto the lens and have "Welz" written on it ("118 Japan" on the inside).

    The 35/1.8 and 50/1.2 were released in April '56, the second version of the 35/2.8 in March '57 (I don't know about the first version), the 35/1.5 in August '58, the 50/1.4 in August '59.
    I've never used the 50/1.2 and don't much want to: it's bigger and heavier than the 50/1.4 for a tiny gain in maximum aperture and (people seem to say) a general loss in quality.

    Thanks - great information. Is the 50/1.4 generally considered a better performer (sharpness and contrast) than the 1.2?
    How about the 35/1.5, 35/1.8 vs 35/2.8?

    You don't need an instruction manual. In case you're worrying, the instruction manual for the lever wound equivalent says that it's OK to change shutter speeds before winding on. Any other worries?
    Just a few questions really;
    a) What does "RF" mean/do when selecting it with the frame selector?
    b) There is a lever attached to the shutter speed dial that can select the following: XF, FPM. What's that?
    c) The shutter speed dial have a setting for "30-1" (in red). Is this the flash sync speed?
    d) There is also a red X on the shutter speed dial.
    e) The shutter button have a lever than can select "A". Purpose?
    f) On the top, back of the camera, right behind the frame counter is a small silver button. Purpose?
    g) As you can tell I haven't used the camera yet - not even loaded a roll yet. The knob on top left (where you can dial in the film speed) I assume is the film adance know. Will it automatically 'stop' when one frame has been advanced or do you twist X times?
    h) On the front of the camera is what appears to be a knob for slower shutter speeds? Is that the purpose of it - and if so if using that knob for shutter speed what should the shutter speed dial on the top of the camera be at?
    i) Not having used a top-mounted viewfinder before - what's the 'workflow' here? Since there is no rangefinder in the viewfinder do you first focus in the internal finder and then switch to the top finder? Seems pointless if that's the case so I'm sure I'm missing something obvious here.

    Thanks again!
  4. gib


    about (i) maybe a little pointless....but where you are shooting in a situation where you have set focus and exposure - f8 1/60th and 20 feet - you can keep your right eye to the top finder, keep your left eye open, and fire the shutter, advance to the next shot and keep going with a better awareness of the situation.

    Now that is based more on my experience of using a Leica IIIf not your Canon or any Canon.

    In the case of my IIIf, when I mount a CV 35mm f2.5 lens, I use a CV external 35mm view finder on the cold shoe.

    I have used a Soviet turret finder on a Kiev 4 with a Jupiter 12 35mm f2.8 lens mounted. Works well.

    My other experience with this specific point is a Bessa R with switchable frame lines and with a Jupiter 9 85mm lens - R has 75 and 90 framelines. Soviet turret finder has 28, 35, 50, 85 and 135, with a kind of parallax setting to 1 meter or to infinity, so some advantage.

    I have considered the Canons in the past when I was acquiring lots of rangefinders but never quite bid to catch one.
  5. r s

    r s

    Wj, thanks - I'll try it out and see how it works for me.
    It's my first 'classic' Canon camera as well and I must say it's very well built and it really is a beautiful camera.
  6. Walz was a manufacturer of accessories for all the major camera & lens lines. Kenko & Hoya made similar accessories. Kenko & Hoya are still around, but Walz isn't. E.g., I have Walz screw-in vented hoods in 39mm, 40mm, 40.5mm, & 43mm, which are marked "For Summicron," "For Canon," "For Sonnar," & "For Nikkor," respectively.


    "What is the Walz-Canon relationship? The lens came with a very nice chrome, metal lens cap that screws onto the lens and have "Welz" written on it ("118 Japan" on the inside)."
  7. The Series designation refers to an accessory system, not invented by Canon (perhaps by Kodak?), where filters came unthreaded in various Series sizes (designated by Roman numerals, V, VI, VII, etc.). Different manufacturers made adapters, either screw-in or clamp-on, that fit all the different lens sizes but also took a particular Series size filter. Thus, even if you had a bunch of different-sized lenses, say 39mm, 40.5mm, & 43mm, you could just get the various adapters for each lens, but be able to use Series VI filters w/all of them (rather than buy separate filters for each size lens).


    "It came with a "Canon series VI" lens hood for 50/1.9 or 35/3.5. The shade is metal and in as-new condition.
    What's the 'correct' shade for the 1.8 lens? 40mm shade?
    What does "Series VI" refer to and what other series are there?"
  8. If you really want to learn more about Canon RFs, just spend a few bucks & pick up a copy of Peter Dechert's "Canon Rangefinder Cameras 1933-68" ISBN 0-906447-30-5.
  9. Peter Dechert's book is excellent and worth the money, but it says little about the lenses and very little indeed about accessories.
    40mm is an unusual filter size but not impossibly so.
    Is the 50/1.4 generally considered a better performer (sharpness and contrast) than the 1.2?
    Sharper, yes. I don't know about contrast. The 50/1.4 is excellent. Some people have a very high opinion of the 50/1.2 as well -- but relative sizes and weights are pretty indisputable.
    How about the 35/1.5, 35/1.8 vs 35/2.8?
    I haven't used any of them, but the consensus seems to be that the 1.5 just buys you a slight edge in speed (but not quality); if you want quality at high speed, swallow the slight loss in speed and "inauthenticity" and get the CV 35/1.7. Among Canon 35mm lenses, the second version of the f2 is the one to look for. (Externally, it's nearly identical to the first version. It has fatter lettering on the front and optically it's a new design.) This is an anachronism for your camera; well, live with it.
    There's been plenty of discussion of all of these lenses, with the possible exception of the 35/2.8.
    But heavens, man, put ten rolls of film through this, or at the very least two or three, before you spend time fantasizing about how to spend more money on it!. And to set you off:
    • (a) RF means higher magnification for critical focusing.
    • (b) Electronic flash versus flashbulb.
    • (c) "30–1" means "Some speed between 1/30 and 1 inclusive, as determined on the slow speed dial."
    • (d) "X" on the shutter speed dial is the highest speed you can use with electronic flash.
    • (e) "A" is film Advance; this is where it's normally set. To rewind the film, move the lever to the other (unmarked) setting. (NB A quirk of Canon cameras of this generation is that when you move the lever the shutter may fire. So I normally put the lens cap on or stop the lens down and stick the shade in my gut when I move the lever.)
    • (f) I'm not sure what this is. I see it in a photo in Dechert's book. I don't have a trigger-wound Canon, and the lever-wound version has no such button. Could it be specific to the trigger winding, perhaps choosing between trigger and knob? Apropos of frame numbering, note that Canons of this generation count downwards; if you're using a short film, it's for you to set it to 24 or whatever.
    • (g) I'm sorry, I don't know anything about the film advance knob, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't know when to stop. (Er, you have noticed that you have trigger wind too?).
    • (h) Yes, that's the slow speed selector. To use it, the main selector should be set to 1–30. When you're not using the slow speed selector — when you're using a faster speed — perhaps it's better to set the slow speed selector to 30, I forget.
    • (i) How you use the combination of rangefinder and external viewfinder is up to you and the particular situation. With small apertures or wide lenses, you'll find that you don't have to use the rangefinder so much.
    HTH; now put some film in the beast and go for a walk!
  10. A quick 'P.S.' to Peter Evans's (h): Memory stirs (back decades) and I think it was indeed best to set the slow-speed dial to '30' when using the speeds on the main dial.
  11. rich,
    i'm short on time now but i can explain more later.
    the 50/1.8 has a shade very similar to the one you have but also very rare and hard to find. i use a caon hood round hood that says 50/1.8 & 35/2.8 on it. it uses series vi filters. walz also made a similar hood that says made for canon series vi on it. i have photos i can show you.
    if you have no use for that shade you now have, i do, and would buy it if made available.
    35 was slow for that period. i think the fast one was a 35/2.8. it's a nice lens, somewhat sharp, low contrast. i like the look from it. canon's premier 35 was the 35/2. it's black and from a later time period. i have both, the 2 is very sharp. both are tiny and light.
    i ahve the address of a place that sells copies of manuals. later...

  12. Your hood is fully suitable. There is also a version of that hood marked for the 50/1.8 and 35/2.8 lenses. It's rarer, and about an eighth of an inch wider. But if the one you have doesn't vignette, go for it. Either one is wonderful for being very effective, and not blocking the view from the finder.

    Kodak series VI filters are common as dirt, but some have failed by now. They don't like moisture. I have the genuine Canon ones, but they cost "collector" prices. (Like $100 for a full set of 5 B&W ones in a stack case.)

    A 50/1.4 Canon Lens would be much more practical than the 50/1.2. Including that the S-50 shade for the 50/1.4 is easy to find, where the special shade for the 50/1.2 can cost nearly as much as the lens! Either one is going to block some of the finder, the 50/1.2 a lot more of it. (Both of these are newer lenses than the camera.)

    The S-50 shade takes Series VII filters, but since that lens has a 48mm filter ring, you can also buy that size of filters easily.

    The Canon 50/1.5 would be perfectly appropriate on this camera, if you want a Sonnar formula lens. No question the 50/1.4 is a "better" lens, but there's a different look to the Sonnar formula. It's in the earlier all-chrome styling. Also, the 50/1.5 is much smaller, and you can share a hood with the 50/1.8. (I'm not sure if that hood doesn't loose a little lens speed wide open on the 50/1.5.)

    The Canon 35/1.8 lens is indeed nice, it is small and light, and has the same black/chrome styling as your 50/1.8. The 35/2.8 is not a bad lens at all. There is a very small but dense all chrome version, with 34mm filter ring. The later, and contemporaneous version is chrome and black, same optics, but in a larger mount with 40mm filter ring. There were about 20,000 of the earlier version made, and 10,000 of the later version.

    The 35/1.8, and the later 35/2.8 can both share your lens hood directly. If you get the smaller chrome 35/2.8, you will need to find a 36mm slip-on (or clamp-on) to Series VI adapter ring.

    Yes, these lenses are described as S-mount on Canon Camera Museum in Canon's web site.

    As you get lenses longer than 50mm, you will want to get the correct Canon bright-line finders. They are not cheap, $100 is a good ballpark price. (Still cheaper than Leica bright lines!) Be careful, while most are the variety with automatic parallax correction, others have manual bases for the other models.

    Unusual for the previous owner to have bought the 50mm bright-line finder, must have wanted that view. It's probably rarer than many of the other focal lengths.

    The other "wonderful" Canon lens is the 100/3.5. Tiny, very light, fine optics. The earlier black/chrome version is contemperaneous, uses 34mm filters, hood somewhat hard to find. There's a later all black version that takes 40mm filters, it's really newer than your camera, I've never seen the hood for it on eBay.
  13. 1. Postscript to John Shriver: the much earlier 100/4 (also 34mm filter size) is bigger and heavier than the 100/3.5 and not as good; but it's small, not heavy, not at all bad, and (at least in my part of the world) plentifully and cheaply available.
    2. When putting anything into the accessory shoe, I'd make sure that its underside is concave. (Almost every finder is concave.) I don't know what would happen if one plugged in a finder or flashgun that didn't allow the parallax correction prong to do its thing, and I don't much want to find out.
  14. Film advance in this camera works by way of a trigger wind on the bottom of the camera. There is no advance lever on the top right like other cameras. The knob on the top right side is an auxiliary advance knob which you need when using the camera with a tripod as the tripod mount blocks the lever on the bottom of the camera. The button on the back of the camera just below the auxiliary advance knob is the button that engages the auxiliary knob - push in, pops up, then turn. And yes, this knob will stop for each frame. But you use the bottom mounted advance lever for every day shooting - very funny as this is an accessory for which Leica people pay dearly for. Canon's little joke. Here is the best treatise on the Canon VT that I could find - Stephen Gandy's lecture on his website, CameraQuest: Below is your photograph of the camera's advance lever.
  15. The auxiliary rewind knob (K) and the button (B) that releases it for use.
  16. If you have a Canon lens that takes 40mm filters there is no need to pay collector prices for them. Just use E39 filters, which are common, and adapt them by the following method which is reversable in the event you want to use them on a 39mm lens again. Here's what you do but it makes the purists go ape! Take a pair of smooth jawed needle nose pliers and at third points around the periphery of the filter thread, bent the threads out slightly -- it takes only a fraction of a mm -- and by trial and error see if they will not screw into the 40mm lens bezel. It is best to practice first on a junk filter to find the amount of distortion necessary. If you are careful you can even make them fit a 40.5mm bezel. If you want to restore them then just carefully work the threads back down to the correct diameter. I tried making the bends at sixth points but found the three point method more effective. If this offends anyone's sence of propriety I apologise, but in my most arrogant opinion a practical solution to a problem is more attractive than stubbornly conforming to outmoded convention.
  17. manual can be found here.
  18. r s

    r s

    Thanks for comments and help :)
    Found an adapter push-on ring amongst the things that came with the camera and voila I can now use the 50/1.9 hood on the 50/1.8 lens.

    Looks like this:
  19. Rich: Congratulations on your beautiful camera. I love Canon rangefinder cameras and lenses. Currently, I use a Canon P and a Canon VI-L. AS for lenses, I have the 35mm/1.8, 50mm/1.8, 85mm/1.9 and the 135mm/3.5. All are sharp and worth their cost.
  20. The 50/1.2 is a fast lens that is also big and heavy. You either love it or you hate it. It is a little soft wide open and it is sharp closed down to 8.0 or so. Some of these 1.2 lenses lose allignment over time and they need a total CLA job. They still are a bargain compared to fast Leitz lenses.
  21. The Canon 50mm :1,2 Thats my favourite "Portrait" lens for Leica M.
    It is "soft" (at least in the corrers) at 1,2-2, but 2,8 onwards VERY nice in my opinion. You mentioned they get softer with the times. YES I found out why: The big shade tends to unsrew the front element out. You just remove the shade, grab the front element assy positively with a short piece of rubber covered electrical wire and turn the front element assy in-VOILA! perfectly sharp pictures again... About the large lens blocking the finder?? Use the 1:1 Voigtl䮤er auxliary finder and shoot both eyes open!
  22. Regarding the question about which 35mm lenses to use with a Canon rangefinder camera,I own three such lenses, and have used them with Canon and Leica M bodies to photograph a variety of subjects.
    Canon 35mm f1.8 -- This lens offers good sharpness and contrast, and has sufficient speed to be useful for shooting in available light (which is one of the main reasons one buys a rangefinder camera). First marketed in 1957 and sold until around 1962, it was faster than the 35mm f3.5 and 35mm f2.8 lenses previously available. More of these were manufactured than the other two lenses described here, so it may be easier to find one offered for sale at a reasonable price.
    Canon 35mm f1.5 -- The designers appear to have intended this lens especially for available-light photography rather than general photography. The maximum aperture of f1.5 is very fast when compared with other 35mm lenses available when this lens was first introduced in 1958, back when the fastest film generally available was Kodak Tri-X at ASA 400. The contrast is relatively low. It is unclear whether this was an intentional objective of the designers, to help reduce somewhat the wide contrast range typically encountered when shooting by available light in dimly-lit situations; or whether it was simply an unavoidable result of making a wide-angle lens that fast within the limitations of the optical technology available at that time. Whatever the reason, pictures taken with this lens during brightly-lit daytime conditions are not as sharp or contrasty as pictures taken with the other two lenses described here, so it is not as good a general-purpose lens as the other two. (It is also slightly larger and heavier than the other two, but still compact and light enough to be convenient to use.) Canon did not make as many of these as the other two lenses described here, so it is rarer and typically more expensive. This might be a good lens if you do a lot of available light photography, or judge equipment on its appearance -- with that big maximum aperture and knurled focusing ring, it definitely looks cool in a late '50s photojournalist sort of way. You might also want one if you are a collector. It is probably not the best choice, though, if what you are looking for is a reasonably-priced utility lens for daily use in a wide range of situations.
    Canon 35mm f2 -- Introduced in 1962 and remaining in production until the 1970s, this lens produces results that are noticeably sharper and contrastier than the other two, and still compare reasonably favorably with modern lenses. While the maximum aperture is marginally slower than the other two, it is fast enough for available light shooting in most situations, especially with fast modern films. As a lens for actual use in a wide variety of situations, it would definitely be my choice over the other two. This may be partly the result of advances in optical technology during the five years or so which elapsed between the introduction of the 35mm f1.8 in 1957 and this lens in 1962. It might also be the result of a choice by the designers to optimize the design for best optical quality in a range of conditions, rather than for highest speed. From a user's perspective, the slight loss in speed is more than made up for by a large increase in image quality. This lens is also the most compact and lightest of the three. I use this lens often, and it's one of my favorites. This is something of a landmark lens, designed so well that it still produces excellent results decades later. It's definitely a keeper.
    All three lenses are easy to handle in use, are manufactured to a high level of mechanical quality, and should prove to be sturdy, durable and precise (unless you get an example that has been heavily used by a professional under adverse conditions, or has been abused).

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