Canon 110ED

Canon 110ED Mini-Review of a Luxury Pocket Camera – By Bob Janes

Canon introduced two 110 cameras in 1975, the 110E, which had an f/2.7 zone focusing lens, and the Canon 110ED, which sported a 26mm f/2.0 lens (one of the fastest on a 110 camera), speeds from 8 seconds to 1/500, a rangefinder, proper hot shoe and a system for imprinting dates on the negative surface.

Canon 110ED top
The Canon 110 ED with front cover closed
Canon 110ED front
With the cover slid back – the dot in the middle of the viewfinder is not standard and has been added to increase the contrast on the rangefinder. The lens itself is behind a filter glass and an exterior shutter.

The 110 ED is quite a luxurious camera, with a decent amount of heft, a brushed aluminium body, a painted metal black front panel with a sliding lens-and-viewinder cover and a plastic rear panel and door. About the only aspect that gives any worries about robustness is the plastic ‘living hinge’ used for the rear door (unlikely to be used often enough the wear out).

Canon 110ED film chamber
Rear door open showing battery compartment

The camera is powered from a commonly available 6v battery that fits in at the left of the film chamber and can only be accessed when the rear door is opened.

This particular model has no sensor to detect 400ASA (ISO) film – that came a few years later with the updated 110 ED 20 model, which also added a 1/1000 second shutter speed.

Canon 110ED bottom
The underside

Although it allows you to use apertures between f/2.0 and f/16, actual aperture values are not shown on the camera, instead the Canon 110ED uses pictograms for various lighting conditions. A window ikon indicates indoors and selects f/2.0, while the cloud and sun symbols select smaller apertures.

The date function is slightly limited these days, as the years stop at 86 (so even my eldest’s baby pictures would have been out of range), however it does allow you to set a single number from 0-9 for the year as well. It seems odd these days that the date is manually set via thumb-wheels, as we are so used to electronic calendars and clocks that would set these values automatically; I guess most modern users will simply turn this feature off.

Film advance is via a sprung slider on the base of the camera at the right end. Focusing and aperture/situation selection are via little sliders on top of the camera, just in front of the well placed and comfortable shutter release. The Canon 110ED has a threaded cable release socket next to the shutter release and a tripod bush on the opposite side of the base to the film advance.

The door covering the front of the Canon 110ED is made of two halves that slide as one, with one half sitting behind the other when the camera is open. The shutter is locked until the cover is completely clear of the lens. The rangefinder is quite a short base, but seems perfectly adequate for the focal length of the lens. The viewfinder gives very little information, with just some bright-frame and parallax lines in addition to the rangefinder patch.

Practicalities and comparisons

Those of us who shoot cameras from the 70s and earlier are used to having to find kludges for batteries and such, but 110 cartridge cameras have a major disadvantage – the availability of film. As discussed in my recent article about shooting 110 film in 2021, Lomography make black and white 110 film, but home processing adds the problems of availability of processing reels for 16mm – and this counts against 110 cameras as practical devices, but doubtless if if wasn’t for high end 110 camera models like the Canon 110 ED, there would probably be no new film available at all. It could be worse, it could be APS.

Over the years it is not uncommon for a rangefinder camera to drop out of vertical alignment, leaving you with one image slightly above the other in the rangefinder patch at proper focus, and this was the case with the Canon 110ED I was using. After I’d run a film through, I found there was an adjustment screw visible in the film chamber, which allows the rangefinder to be adjusted.

Although the adjustable aperture on the Canon 110ED is a simple diamond, it does not have much in the way of adverse effect on out of focus areas.

Canon 110ED Photos

Selfie showing the date imprinting function. You can substitute a single number for the year, but most people will be happy to switch the date off. I was 13 on 1 January 1976.
Thamesmead nature reserve.
Southern outfall at Thamesmead. Aromatic.
Cranes in the mist. The Thames at Barking Reach.
Nice and Sharp.

Canon 110ED Conclusions

The Canon 110ED exudes quality in finish and solidity – this can be seen from the sheer heft of the thing, but also from details like the metal inserts that line the threads for the remote release and the tripod; it combines this high level of finish with a fast lens, but it will give issues with ISO 400 film (not a problem for the updated Canon 110 ED 20).

If you would like to know more about shooting 110 films and cameras, have a read of my article on the subject here.

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20 thoughts on “Canon 110ED Mini-Review of a Luxury Pocket Camera – By Bob Janes”

  1. I liked your article.
    After a Kodak Instamatic, I think the 50 model) I had a super deluxe 110, the Rollei 110. Both cameras were very comfortable for their size and weight.
    I took hundreds of photos with Kodak 110 Gold 200 and the paper copies (7×10 cm) of the time seemed fine to me but now that I have scanned the negatives I have changed my mind. I think it was a mistake not to have bought my Pentax ME before, which has given me so much joy.

    1. I understand the Rollei is rather nice. I’ve recently used the Canon, The Minox 110s and an Agfamatic 4008, but haven’t managed to source a Rollei. I do have a little Minolta 16 P though and if that turns out to function reasonably well, it might merit some kind of write-up…

  2. Nice overview.
    Some years ago now, I decided that my camera collection was lacking. My sub-min collection had already been completed for my purpose, and as I had used my Mamiya 16 Automatic in the mid-1960’s, I had already added to it in subsequent years an Edixa 16s, two Rolleis. the 16 and 16S, four Minoltas, a Minox, Yashica Ataron, and a second Mamiya 16 Auto when I learnt that there was a second model, identical in looks, but which was in meters, not feet as my original, and was minus the 1/2 second shutter speed.

    Now the lacking element was 110 format, so I decided to remedy this with a small collection of top of the range models. This now comprises all the regulars such as the tiny Pentax slr (with all lenses except the zoom) the two Minolta slr’s, the cute Rollei A110, Agfamatic 6008/5008/ makro pocket sensor models, and last to be added the Canon 110ED.

    I’ve just got the Canon down for a further look upon reading your article. To my eyes it lacks the design fun factor of the others. It’s a brick, with a bit of heft, although it is endowed with some nice features, with one I hated – the awkward positioning of the spring loaded push required to advance the film. Nice feature is the 6V battery. The Agfa’s follow the brick philosophy but have beautifully curved edges making them a joy to hold. The 110’s top mounted standard hot shoe would be welcomed by flash users, and should permit most auto flashguns to be synched, as I understand that the f stops of little weather signal aperture settings are known.

    1. Wow, that is some collection! I’m less bothered by the wind-on with the Canon as the operation of the front door, and I think that might be just in comparison to the Minox. There is a lot about the Canon that shows good design and build, but I have to agree about the fun factor…

  3. Great review! There was an excellent 110 from Kodak… the cheap looking black plastic Ektramax… with a very good f/1.9 lens. I got great night street shots while traveling with it and a 35mm Konica Big Mini. Despite it’s “common” appearance, the Ektramax had a wonderful lens, though one has to wonder if it was really 0.1 faster than the Canon ED’s f/2.0. Overall, I think my three best 110s were (in order) Kodak’ s Pocket Instamatic 60, Canon’s ED 20 and the Ektramax.

      1. Sorry Bob… I tried to “gently suggest”! But do look it up, it’s a lesser-known gem with great performance at (to put it mildly) an “understated design.”

    1. Went under my radar as well. Must be super rare now as not a single one on ebayuk. Looks like the collectors have hoovered them up, or went the way of many 110 cameras, possibly believing it was just anothe 110 Kodak.

    1. I’ve got a spare film I’m stashing away just in case I get hold of one.

      I seem to be on a subminiature exploration at present, but I need to make sure I’ve got a working Minolta 16 first…

      1. Rob, I appreciate that you’ve said you are seeking a Minolta P, but in your sub-min exploration of Minolta’s be aware that the 16 II is fixed focus for near field, up to 15ft or so. So if you wish to use it for scenic views you will need the bespoke negative supplementary lens for inifinity.

  4. Very much enjoying your 110 posts, as I am really into the format at the moment, although I haven’t tried b/w yet just expired colour cartridges. I remember these ty pe s of cameras from my youth and find them truly charming. I have acquired the original luxury pocket camera – the Kodak Instamatic 60 – and currently experimenting with various battery hacks to get in going. Cheers, Rock

      1. The original K battery with mercury cells was 4v by all accounts but later alkaline ones were apparently 4.5v-. I have a dud mercury one which I tried to re cell, but not successfully. So I did the tape three button cells together trick, which I have kinda jammed in and the camera has come to life. I do wonder if 4.5v will underexpose as the camera is entirely auto!?

        1. Does the camera give any indications of what exposure it is setting? You might be able to tell by finding a lighting condition that is just before it gives a warning and then work out what f2.7 at 1/30 equates to in real life.

          If you are developing yourself you could try stand development, which sort of evens out exposures..

    1. Rock, having had no success with seeking out an Ektramax, I had a look at the Instamatic 60 you mentioned. And on the surface it looks like it is clearly an Ektramax but with an f2.7 lens 4-element lens and reduced range of shutter speeds, notably maxing out at 1/250. But it does have the rangefinder. A quick search, and I found one on ebay for £8, plus reasonable p&p.
      The seller said it appeared working, highly unlikely without a working K battery, but as I don’t propose using it, it doesn’t really matter.
      As for battery hacks, I assume that you’ve seen the youtube video where the guy has used a K housing to simply act as contacts for an external battery pack holding 2x AA batteries.
      A collector will no doubt be aghast at cutting a small hole in the camera back door for the wire lead out, but once modified this way, battery replacements are a doddle as any 3V or 4.5V battery could be pressed into service, even 3x button cells if AA’s are too large.

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