Canon Cameras: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

1. Canon Was Originally Developed in Japan, and called Kwanon

When Tokyo-based Goro Yoshida disassembled the Leica Model II, he found it to be made of sub-par materials and decided that he could make a better camera for a less exorbitant price. A Buddhist, Yoshida named his prototype Kwanon, after the goddess Kwannon. While the first Kwanon camera was advertised in a 1934 edition of the Asahi Camera magazine, no prototypes ever hit the market. A single Kwanon Model D was found in Japan in 1955, though there’s no proof that Yoshida had anything to do with its construction.

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2. The First Canon Camera Had a Nikkor (Nikon) Lens

When they got started, the world’s two largest competing camera brands were on the same team. In 1933, Goro Yoshida founded Precision Optical Instruments Laboratory with Saburo Uchida and Takeo Maeda. The men were able to make a prototype of the camera body but not a lens, and so turned to Nippon Kogaku Kogyo’s Japan Optical Industries—which would later become Nikon—to use their lens. “Kwanon” was changed to Canon, and Precision Optical Instruments developed a sales and marketing relationship with a camera and accessory shop whose trademark was “Hansa.” When it was released in late 1935 or early 1936 (there’s some speculation as to when it actually hit the shelves), the Hansa Canon included a Nikkor lens, lens mount, viewfinder, and rangefinder mechanism. It wasn’t until Canon 1948 when developed the Serenar 135mm f/4, the company’s first interchangeable lens, that Kogaku would stop supplying Canon with Nikkor lenses.

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3. Canon Was the First to Develop An “Everyman’s” Camera

In the late 1950s, engineers at Canon began to wonder if the differentiate itself by offering a consumer-driven cameras marketed at non-professional photographers. The Canonet was released in Tokyo in 1961, and lines were so long to marvel at the new technology that a projected week’s worth of inventory was sold out in two hours. In 1963 Canon upped the ante again by offering its Canon Demi, a compact, lightweight, single-framed camera, and then again with its Color Demi, available in stylish red, white, or blue casing.

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4. Canon Has Won Two Academy Awards for Motion Picture Photography

First presented in 1931, the Scientific or Technical Class Oscar, or Academy Award, is to recognize significant technical innovations that improve film production or exhibition. n 1973, Canon developed a macro zoom lens for 35mm filmmaking, and won a Scientific or Technical Class Academy Award for its efforts. A mere four years later Canon won the same Academy Award for K–35 super speed motion picture lenses. Other major corporations to have won this Academy include IMAX, for its development of a format to screen wide-angle films and Avid, for its invention of a non-linear editing platform.

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5. The First Canon DSLR Was the EOS D30, 2000

Before Canon released the EOS D30 in 2000, it had worked with Kodak to provide digital SLRs, using Canon bodies with Kodak digital backs. It may seem like a dinosaur today, but when the D30 was released its 3.1-megapixel resolution was revolutionary for its class and weight. Users could shoot in either JPEG or RAW format, and the camera included a built-in flash, automatic white balance, a CMOS sensor, and a Canon EF lens mount, compatible with several Canon film lenses.

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