To begin with, young people decided to carefully examine the products of the then market leaders - German firms Leiz and Contax. But it was easier said than done - photographic equipment was expensive, and the initial capital of the Lab was very, very modest. But, fortunately, Uchida’s best friend, a successful doctor Takeshi Mitarai, caught fire with the crazy idea of two friends and allocated the necessary amount. Having bought all the German cameras available in Japan and disassembled them, friends set about developing the "best camera in the world." Less than a year later, together with another engineer Takeo Maeda, they created a prototype of the first Japanese 35-mm camera with a curtain shutter, called Kwanon.
Young people did not stint on advertising, posting it in the main Japanese photojournal Asahi Camera. Not much time passed and the Kwanon camera made a splash in the Japanese islands. This model concentrated the best design solutions of German analogues, but at the same time it was much more affordable. A separate reason for the pride of young designers was the fact that Kwanon was not just a copy, but was an original engineering development.
Kwanon is the name of the thousand-year-old Buddhist goddess of mercy, which Yoshida and Uchida chose as the "godmother" of their brainchild. But in the international market, oriental shrines were not very popular. That is why in 1935 the name Kwanon was replaced by Canon - which has not lost its connection with the former, but at the same time, more vivid and carries many international meanings. In Japanese, the word "canon" means "cannon", which in a sense can also be attributed to photographic equipment: "camera-gun" - it sounds promising.
The first prototype of the company's symbol was a drawing of the very goddess Kwanon, sitting on a lotus flower. Frames from the tongues of flame were added to the image and they got an oriental tank icon rather than a logo, so the option never went into series. It was replaced by the simply intricate Kwanon inscription. And in 1935, when the cameras changed their name, a laconic Canon inscription appeared, made in an elegant font, which guesses the modern style. In 1953, the letters became "fatter", and three years later the usual logo appeared to us, which still looks modern.
In the late 1930s, in order to attract new investors to the production of photographic equipment, it was decided to transform the Laboratory into a joint stock company Precision Optical Industry Co., Ltd. Despite the name, the company produced only cameras - that is, before the war you could only buy a Canon body, on which lenses were installed ... Nikkor! The situation today is fantastic and, one might even say, blasphemous. But in the 1930s, the industrial "monster" Nippon Kogaku (ancestor of Nikon) produced only high-quality optics, without dealing with cameras. And Canon didn’t have the resources to launch its lenses.
After the war, the company developed several successful models of rangefinder cameras - advanced variations on the Leica theme, which were already equipped with their own optics, since Nippon Kogaku, too, had taken up the development of cameras by that time and had stopped supplying its lenses for Canon.
In 1959, Canon released its first SLR camera. The Canonflex model was distinguished by a robust metal case, interchangeable pentaprism and a built-in exposure meter. But professionals paid more attention to the Nikon F DSLR that appeared in the same year - not least thanks to a wider selection of optics and a variety of additional accessories. Canon’s destiny remained servicing the mass consumer, which, however, brought very good income.
In the 1960s, the company released not only a few interesting cameras, but also achieved significant success in the production of optics. So, in 1961, a lens for rangefinders of 50 mm f / 0.95 appeared, which still remains the fastest in the world.
The world's fastest aperture 50mm f / 0.95 lens
In 1964, the “most wide-angle wide-angle” for DSLRs appeared - the FL 19 mm f / 3.5. By 1969, the company had mastered the production of fluorite optics and released the world's first telephoto FL 300 mm f / 5.6 mm with fluorite lenses and excellent correction of chromatic aberration. In 1971, Canon was the first to use aspherical lenses in lens construction with the release of an FD 55 mm f / 1.2 AL lens. It became part of the advanced FD photographic system, which, in addition to lenses with new FD mounts, included the company's first truly professional SLR camera - the Canon F1.
In 1987, the EOS (Electronic Optical System) system was introduced. The first camera in this revolutionary series was the Canon EOS 650 with the all-new EF (Electronic Focus) mount. Its feature is the presence of electrical contacts, through which a signal is supplied to the AF motor hidden in the lens. The debut of the new system in the world of professional photographic equipment took place in 1989, when the company introduced the legendary Canon EOS 1. The high-strength, dust-tight, waterproof housing of this professional model was distinguished by ergonomics that were unprecedented for those times. Thanks to the outstanding qualities of the new professional camera, since the 1990s, Canon products have begun to determine the choice of most photojournalists around the world. The Canon EOS 1 camera went through more than one upgrade in the future, and Canon’s modern digital top models - the EOS-1Ds Mark III and EOS-1D Mark III can be considered its direct descendants.
In 2000, Canon introduced its independent development - the 3-megapixel semi-professional model Canon D30, which became one of the first mass DSLR cameras in the world. A year later, a full-fledged camera for professionals appeared - the Canon 1D.
Subsequently, Canon released revolutionary digital models with enviable regularity, confirming the reputation of the company, not afraid of the most daring technological and marketing experiments. Thanks to which he became one of the largest and most respected photographer in the world.