The Hansa Canon Camera


Sometimes the Unique Photo Used department gets some pretty rare and unique cameras. Earlier this week, we received this Hansa Canon 35mm rangefinder.

This camera was the very first production camera ever made with the name Canon printed on it. This camera was produced for the first time in 1935 and it was designed with a coupled rangefinder, and a really awesome pop up viewfinder. The most interesting aspect tot his camera is its lens. Canon called on Nippon-Kogaku (later known as Nikon) to produce the 50mm 3.5F Nikon Lens.

Gore Yoshida, Saburo Uchida, Takeo Maeda, and Seiki-Kogaku Kenkyusho intended to develop a 35mm rangefinder camera and produced the first prototype for their 35mm camera called the “Kwanon”, but was never commercialized. After the initial designs Uchida and Mazda developed the camera with the help of outside investors and the camera later became known as “Canon”. After equipping the body with the Nikon lens, the camera was finally released in the Japanese market in February of 1936. Originally the camera was produced with the name Hansa on its top plate but was later changed to Canon.


Each Hansa Canon had their lens focusing mount made by Nikon who then were the only Japanese manufacturer of camera glass and the producer of Nikkor branded lenses. Their focusing mount design avoided the patent utilized by Leica which allowed them to utilize their mounts in the Japanese markets. Each Nikkor focusing mount had a number engraved on its base. The focusing mount numbers are the best way to identify individual Hansa Canon cameras. There was also a serial number stamped inside the base plate of each camera but the focusing mount numbers aged better.

Due to the success of the Hansa Canon the small and slowly growing company eventually grew to the massive Canon Camera Company and eventually became Canon, Inc. The success of the Hansa Canon led to the introduction of the Canon S lineup which initially was introduced in late 1938.

Make sure to come into the Fairfield and Philly stores to check out the rest of our used departments for great used gear!