5 frames with a Canon P and Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens

I’ve had my Canon P for a while now. I mostly bought it for the 50mm f/2.2 lens that was attached to the front of it. That being said, I’ve shot more with the camera than I have that lens, and even then, it’s only one roll so far.

This is far from because I don’t like the lens, or indeed the camera. It’s for the same reason that some of my other gear hasn’t been shot yet too: It’s just in the never ending queue. In the case of the Canon P, this feels like more of a shame than a lot of other cameras that are sat in waiting – I had “Canon P” in my saved searches on eBay for about 3 years prior. I was looking for one around the same time I bought an M3. I’m not sure why I remember that, but I do.

I’ll come back to all this when I eventually review the Canon P, but for now, I just want to point out that there’s a lot of strong arguments to be made for it as a camera. The primary one – at least as far as I’m concerned – is how profoundly simple a camera it is. It has a fairly bright, 1:1 viewfinder with frame lines for 35, 50 and 100mm, a very neat rewind lever, a shutter dial, and little more. All that apart from the fact that it’s built like a tank – I think I’d move my foot out of the way if I dropped it…

By the definition of some, the Canon P is a Leica copy. This definition comes from the post war period when Leica thread mount camera designs were made available for the worlds camera manufacturers to copy. By the time of the Canon P, Leica had moved on to its Leica M cameras, and the style and features of the early thread mount cameras were a thing of the past. The reason the P retains the “Leica copy” broad definition is due to the lens mount being a Leica thread mount. This of course means that Leica M lenses can’t be mounted, but most Leica thread mount lenses can – including the more modern ltm Voigtlander lenses, which I have a few of (and indeed hold in high regard).

The roll I shot with it was a roll of Portra 400 with the Canon 50mm f/1.4 attached to the front. I reviewed that lens here, but didn’t talk about it in combination with the Canon P. These photos were scanned with my Noritsu LS1100

Norah & Connie




I will be back with a fuller review at some point later in the year, I hope…



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12 thoughts on “5 frames with a Canon P and Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens”

  1. “Cameras in waiting”…..Just gotta love it……I have hte same problem…..a display case full of cameras each waiting their turn to be used….mist of them models we could not afford in the day when 35mm was king! Which will be my next to run a film through? My recently rebuilt Yashica FX2 or my Canon F1…you know the original one? Or maybe my Zeiss Ikon Icarex? Choice….Or maybe one of around fifty others!! F ar far too much choice……

  2. Hamish, nice little teaser for your forthcoming review of the P. You’re being generous to all those manufacturers who copied Leica (and Contax) when you typed “..Leica thread mount camera designs were made available for the worlds camera manufacturers to copy.” Being “made available” really means the designs were copied with impunity when Germany lost many of its patents as a form of reparation, one could say.
    Whilst it is true, say, of Canon, at least for the technology, they did at least cut their own furrow in the look of their cameras unlike Leotax and Nicca to give two examples, who made look-a-like replicas. Take my late Leotax TV Merit 2, and which from most angles it looks just like a IIIf, that is until you spot the lever wind! And those who are familiar with Leica’s later screw range bodies would immediately spot the other difference in the hand- the Leotax is larger all round. It’s a IIIf on steroids. Because it looks so much like a Leica, holding it leaves me with a somewhat strange sensation that I can’t readily explain.

    1. I’ve never seen a leotax, nicca, reid etc in real life you know… the only true leica copy I’ve used is a fed… …

  3. Zachary James

    Hey hamish – shooting the Canon on the Canon is quite classy, it’s a great lens (mines a bit Hazy for daytime use but has a wonderful look for wannabe noir night shots, but on that same line of thinking – did you ever shoot any of the sonnars/Jupiter’s on a contax film body? I think I saw some mention that one shot was taken with a iia in a caption in one of the great sonnar articles, but beyond that I can’t remember much mention of them. Also, the P is a very lovely camera, though I ended up trading mine for an F2 because I thought the advance lever was a little misshapen to grip the camera without a strap over the course of a day – the M lever hooks so perfectly!

    1. I honestly can’t remember – probably the opton 50 on the contax – I’d have to dig deep to work out what I did back then 😉

  4. Side Note – I came across this 1956 staged photo of Santa Fe’s El Capitan lounge car. https://tinyurl.com/yd65o4uy

    An acquaintance made these comments on this photo. “Well, other than the styles, the guy on the lower left is holding a camera, a big black one that looks like it has a huge box viewfinder on it. He’s presented as just a passenger, not a pro photographer, so the camera was a popular retail model of the time. There is no detail of the camera but it does have a projecting lens. It appears to have a waist-level viewfinder that the fellow is looking down into, although he is holding the camera as high as possible; this is a typical stance in people snapshots using such cameras. A year or two later, it would have been a 35mm SLR with a pentaprism. Pentaprisms were used as early as 1949 (East German Contax S) but were not common in the public until 35 mm and 6 X 4.5 and 6 X 7 SLRs started appearing in the late 1950’s.”

    Hence, is US, 35mm cameras didn’t appear until late 1950s

  5. Did you guess exposure on frame 3? I have a hard time getting exposure right with that backlit situation. You nailed it!

    1. I used the same exposure as for the other shots she was in the shade – expose for your subject, thats my tip!

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