Canon jumped into the half-frame fray shortly after the Olympus Pen series took off. They had two successful half-frame series of cameras -- the Demi line and the Dial line. The Canon's generally had more features that the Pens, but were also larger and heavier -- an approach that Canon used with their full-frame rangefinder cameras, as well.
In 1963, after the success of the Olympus Pen camera, Canon decided to enter the half-frame market. The Demi was the first Canon half-frame and sported a 28mm (f2.8-22) manually-focusing lens (5 elements in 3 groups). Shutter speeds of B, 1/30 - 1/250. It had a selenium meter, with a match-needle system (readout on top of camera) that set the shutter speed and aperture at the same time by turning a single ring on the front of the lens. At f2.8 the shutter speed is 1/30, at f22 the speed is 1/250. The settings could be made manually -- disregarding the meter -- but you were stuck with the combination of f-stop and shutter speed that it gave you as you turn the ring. This exposure setup was used by several other half-frame cameras, such as the Soviet Agat 18. At the B and FLASH (1/30) settings, the f-stop could be set independently of the shutter speed. The camera also had a PC contact, but no built-in shoe. Focus detents at 1 m, 3 m, and 15 m. The lens shows distance icons instead of numbers, however a scale on the back of the camera translates the icons into numbers. Close-focusing to 0.8 m. Film speed range of ISO 10 - 400.
-- see BELL & HOWELL
Same as the Demi original, but it came with a special "leatherette" covering that was available in black, red, white or blue. The wrist strap and case were also dyed the same color -- very attractive!
(1965) An "upgrade" from the Demi, the camera itself has the same features. It had a 28mm (f2.8-22) manually focusing lens with five elements in three groups. 34mm filter thread. Shutter speeds from 1/30 - 1/250, plus B. It had a selenium meter, with a match-needle system (readout on top of camera) to set the aperture and shutter in a stepped program taking you from f/2.8 @ 1/30 sec to f/22 @ 1/250 sec. The camera also had a flash PC contact. Most importantly, it had a lens which could be removed! Canon also made a 50mm (f2.8) lens (seven elements in six groups) that was fully interchangeable. This was equivalent to a 75mm lens in full-frame 35mm format. It was not just a simple add-on converter as some authors report. 48mm filter thread. Otherwise, the size and shape were like the Demi. Film speed 10 - 400. In many ways this was a spare-no-effort attempt to make a half frame which could do what the later Leica CL would do -- except for the lack of freedom of exposure and rangefinder. In any event, it got two precision lenses into the hands of people who might never have had such a chance!
30mm (f1.7) manually focusing lens from infinity to 31 inches. The CDS meter can be set for manual operation or shutter-preferred automation. The shutter speed is selected and the meter readout in the viewfinder indicates the correct f-stop. ISO from 25 - 400. Focusing, parallax and over/under exposure information is also in the viewfinder. Cold shoe with PC connector, tripod socket, self-timer, and cable release socket included. Shutter speeds from 1/8 - 1/500, plus B. Also has +1 and +2 exposure compensation setting. 34mm filter size. Takes one 625 battery.
A less expensive version of the Demi EE17, it had simpler and fewer features, such as an f2.8 lens, selenium meter, and no self-timer. 34mm filter size.
Later version of the Demi.
(1964) An "upgrade" from the Demi, it had a faster lens and more shutter speeds. Now it has a 30mm (f1.7-22) manually-focusing lens with six elements in four groups. Shutter speed from 1/8 - 1/500, plus B. It had a selenium meter, with a match-needle system (readout on top of camera) to set the aperture and shutter. Also had a PC contact. Film speed from 25 to 400. 34mm filter thread.
(1964) An updated version of the Demi S, this model used the Agfa Rapid cassettes. The lens was the same as on the Demi S -- a 30mm (f1.7-22) manually-focusing lens . Shutter speeds and film speeds were also the same. But the meter was upgraded from the selenium to a CDS cell with shutter priority automatic exposure. That freed up space to improve the viewfinder -- exposure readout and distance information were added in the viewfinder. Film speed was set by the film cassettes. Self-timer added as well.
(1963) The Dial cameras were a unique approach at the time. The cameras were small, thanks to the half-frame format, but some offered exceptional features. This model was named "DIAL" because the unique CDS meter -- which looks like it is a selenium meter -- also resembles the dial on a telephone (at least in 1963!). It had a manually focusing, 28mm (f2.8 - 22.0) (5 elements in 3 groups) lens. The lens could be focused with a distance scale on the lens or distance symbols in the viewfinder. Close-focusing to 0.8 meters. Shutter speeds were set manually from 1/30 - 1/250. Then the correct aperture could be set manually or automatically with the built-in CDS meter. For manual exposure, the button under the viewfinder was pulled out and rotated. The viewfinder had an f-stop readout for metered-manual use. For automatic exposure, the button was pushed in. After the shutter speed is manually selected, the meter displayed the set f-stop in the viewfinder. Either way, you never had to take your eye away from the viewfinder to set the exposure or the focusing -- very nice!!! Over and under (use flash) exposure symbols in the viewfinder. But that's not all!!! The camera also had a spring-wound film drive. While not as speedy as the electronic drives of today, this unit was built into a small "handle" on the bottom of the camera. Rapid shooting was possible if you had a quick finger -- about 20 shots could be taken with each winding of the spring. To rewind the film, just press the rewind button -- no cranking was needed. Film speed range of ISO 8 - 500. 48mm filter thread. Cable release socket in shutter release button, and tripod socket in spring drive. ISO/DIN converter on the back. An amazing camera for the time, it sold on the street for under $40. PC contact and cold shoe. Soft leather case. It's a good thing that it's a half-frame (with up to 72 exposures per roll), because you can burn through film pretty easily with this guy!
-- see BELL & HOWELL
(1965) This camera is a real head-scratcher. Looked at quickly, it is just a modified version of the Dial 35 with a faster lens. It had a 30mm (f2.5), (5/4) manually-focusing lens. Just like the original, the lens could be focused with a distance scale on the lens or distance symbols in the viewfinder. Close-focusing to 0.8 meters. The camera also had a spring-wound film-drive. 48mm filter thread. Takes one 625 battery. Now for the differences. It used Agfa Rapid cassettes -- hence the "RAPID" name. The film speeds are now 25 - 400 and set automatically by the Rapid cassette tab. Then the shutter speed is chosen -- now from 1/30 - 1/500 PLUS B. Then the correct aperture is set automatically by the built-in CDS meter. No manual f-stop settings. It added a self-timer. It drops the PC connection and flash shoe, but it has a socket for AG-1 flash bulbs! Under the tripod socket is a compartment for the flash bulb batteries. So despite coming out TWO YEARS AFTER the original, this camera took two steps forward and three steps back! No wonder it didn't sell well, is hard to find, costs a lot to buy (if you can find one), and yet is prized by collectors.
(1968) An updated version of the original. The differences were nice, but not enormous. This version used the smaller PX625 battery. The readout in the viewfinder was similar but showed all of the f-stops and a blue scale where everything would be in focus (if the distance on the lens was set to the hyperfocal distance). In addition the ISO was changed to 10 to 1000. Also, a hot shoe was added, and a wrist strap (very convenient) added to the spring-motor drive. Same 48mm filter thread. Same cable release socket in shutter release and tripod socket in spring drive. The nice soft leather case was changed to a hard leather(?) case. The ASA/DIN converter on the back was changed to a "Check List for easy picture taking". You can tell a Dial 35-2 from a Dial 35, not only because it says Dial 35-2 on the front plate, but the front plate (under the focusing scale) is black on the Dial 35-2. It was also sold by Bell & Howell as the Bell & Howell Dial 35. Overall, these nice improvements make the Dial 35-2 the shooters' choice. Takes one 625 battery.
-- see BELL & HOWELL
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