Tag Archives: Canon IIF

The living dead

“It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.” ― Voltaire

I thought I would post an image with all three of the cameras that I have worked on so far.

All three are now in working condition. Actually I have gone through four Autocords, three 35’s, and two chrome 50mm’s … these just happen to be the last ones that I have now off the bench.

The Minolta Autocord has new grey Griptac leatherette from Cameraleather.com. The Minolta-35 has some nice brown leatherette, from eBay seller camera-shop-pl, that I custom cut. The Canon IIF didn’t need a recovering.

I will say that restoring/repairing is quite satisfying … cameras are supposed to take pictures, so having one that is just a broken mantel piece does not fit well with me. I would like to restore all the cameras that I have, but sometimes you just can’t … some things are just broken beyond repair or replacement parts no longer exist (though that leads to buying more cameras).

Canon IIF rangefinder – the inside out

OK, so back to the Canon IIF. This time I am going after the slow speed gears, as it appears that some of the speeds from 1/25s to 1s were off key and I needed to get a good look at the shutter curtains. Getting the inside out wasn’t too much of an effort, and is the only way to really visually check the shutter curtains … as this is a bottom loader Barnack style camera.

Tools: screw drivers, tweezers, Ronsonol, q-tips, and liquid electrical tape.

First remove the bottom film loading cover plate and set that aside.

Remove the bottom cover plate.



Unscrew the flash trigger wire terminal.

The lens mount has to come off as there are two retainers, behind the ring, that will get in the way in removing the body.

Unscrew the four screws on the ring, take the two left first. This will cause the retainer to fall into the body. Note that this will be different in shape than the one on the right.

Carefully pull off the lens mount ring as there may be brass shims behind it. Make note of exactly where the shims are positioned as they will need to go back in the same place.

The slow shutter speed dial will be removed next. There is a small lock screw on the side of the knob, loosen it and unscrew the knob counter-clockwise.

Unscrew the retaining nut with tweezers. Pull off the low shutter speed dial.

Remove the three screws that hold the slow shutter speed registration pin, and pull it off the body. Remove the spacer plate.

The body is held on by the four screws on the front (the short one was hidden under the slow shutter speed dial plate), and the six screws (three in front and three in back) connected to the top plate.

Push down the rangefinder coupling lever to get it out of the way and pull off the body … note that the film pressure plate will pop off, including the two springs.

The slow speed gears are on the bottom with a cover that is held on with two screws. The front screw is easy to take off, while the back one is in an awkward position. I tried to access it from the back with the shutter opened (bulb) but I could not get enough catch on the slotted head due to the angle. Possibly a screw driver with a long and thin shaft may be able to do it. I just put Ronsonol around the openings and soaked the general area, and it eventually got to the gears.

Note: refer to Graham’s comment about getting to the slow shutter box …

You can exercise the gears by pushing on the lever to the right (relative to the image above) of the gear box, which is attached to the arm that is pushed by the slow speed dial mechanism.

Now you can check out the shutter. Use a flashlight to check for pin holes and make sure to check both shutter curtain (this is best done in a dark area). I use liquid electrical tape to seal up the tiny holes … use a toothpick (or shave down the end of a q-tip) to apply very small amounts. Check for holes again. Make sure to let it dry before winding up the shutter so not to get it attached to the curtains when rolled up.

To put this all back together … put the springs and pressure plate on first. Press it down with your thumb while you slide the innards into the body, then press the rangefinder coupling lever down to clear the lens mount hole.

Then you can put the one body screw that is located under slow shutter speed dial. Secure the body with the ten screws.

Assemble most of the slow shutter speed dial … leave the knob off. If your slow shutter speeds are off then you can now adjust them. Take out the inner screw. You can then turn the inner slotted nut … clockwise to speed it up (and you can figure out how to slow it down). Put the inner screw back on then check the speed again, when you are satisfied put the knob back on.


Canon IIF rangefinder – cleaning the viewfinder

I got this Barnack style rangefinder for the lens that was included with it. The camera turned out to be in very good condition. All it needed was some cleaning of the view/rangefinder.

Tools: slotted screw drivers, flexi-clamps, tweezers, spannerwrench, q-tips, cleaning solutions.

The first thing to remove is the cover for the rangefinder window. If you do not have flexi-clamps then you can use pliers and a thick rubber band (to keep it from scratching the metal) … or even try removing it by hand if it is loose enough.

Pull out the window cover.

Unscrew the adapter ring.

Unscrew the collar for the shutter button.

The shutter speed dial is held on by three tension screws. Loosen them and pull off the dial.

The film rewind knob is unscrewed … you will have to hold onto the column to keep it from turning.

Completely unscrew and remove the collar lock. The rewind column will fall into the body.

The magnifier is held on by the ring screw, unscrew it with the spanner wrench or even your tweezers.

Pull off the magnifier lever.

Remove the two screws.

Remove the single screw just behind the hot shoe.

Unscrew the four screws to remove the hot shoe

Pull off the top plate.

This is a front view.

The rangefinder prism is on the left and the viewfinder mirror/prism is on the right.

Behind that is the rotating magnifier.

Clean the surfaces.

Watch out not to get any fluid behind the rangefinder prism.

If the secondary viewfinder image looks weak, it could be either dirt/liquid behind the rangefinder prism or the main viewfinder mirror has de-silvered. You can’t do much about de-silvering, but you can remove the rangefinder prism and clean the back. On the Canon IIF the rangefinder prism is held in place by two small screws and lacquer. Acetone or nail polish remover can soften the lacquer … do that or you may strip the screws. Once you clean it and put it back in you should check the image alignment through the viewfinder.

Attach a lens to the camera. Set it on infinity. Look though the viewfinder and then make slight adjustments to the rangefinder prism until it matches up or at least gets very close. Then you can tighten the prism.

Put the cover back on. Put the three screws and hot shoe back in to secure it. Attach the rangefinder adapter ring and cover window.

Turn the cover window to change the vertical alignment.

The vertical alignment screw is covered by a screw by the viewfinder window. Remove it, and then you can use a thin slotted screw driver to change the horizontal alignment. It the horizontal alignment is way off, it means the prism is not positioned correctly.

Once that looks ok, but the rest back on … make sure you put the shutter speed dial back in the right position by first pulling/turning the column until you find Bulb, then wind the shutter and attach the dial.

Canon IIF – some camera history

The Canon IIF rangefinder came out in 1953, made by Seikikōgaku Kenkyūsho … which changed to Canon in 1947. It is a copy of the Barnack designed camera, the classic Leica rangefinders. The first of the Canon rangefinders was the Kwanon, and they started rolling out models after that first prototype.

Kwanon … the name ‘Kwanon’ refers to Canon, the Buddhistic Goddess of Mercy.

Many series II cameras were made, each with slight variations in design.

The Canon IIF model was specifically marketed for export (not available for purchase in Japan), which is why you will typically see them with the E.P. (Post Exchange) stamp on the top … you will find may auctions calling this a Canon EP camera model name in the USA as many military personnel had purchased these cameras.

One unique feature of the Canon II rangefinders is the three position viewfinder magnifier … makes focusing easier and can also be used to reflect the field of view for an image of 50mm, 100mm and 135mm.

I find that the “feel” of this camera is more solid than the Leica IIF that I had … I think it has more metal, and the single view/range finder window is handy. I have only had to service one of them, and there was not much to do as it was in great condition.

Since I am getting into the habit of introductions … my next post will be about the servicing of this camera. This one, as I mentioned, did not require much so it is going to be a short one.