Canon Commemorates 80th Anniversary of Its First Camera: The Kwanon

Canon Commemorates 80th Anniversary of Its First Camera: The Kwanon


Melville, NY—Canon USA announced that its parent company, Canon Inc., is commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Kwanon, Canon’s first camera. Japan’s first 35mm focal-plane-shutter camera, the Kwanon prototype was produced in 1934, as the culmination of the dreams of engineers who wanted to catch up with Europe, the leading presence in the camera industry at the time.

The engineers who created the camera named it after Kwannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy, “hoping the deity would share her benevolence as they pursued their dream to produce the world’s finest camera.” The camera’s lens, called Kasyapa, was named after Mahakasyapa, a disciple of Buddha. Additionally, the top portion of the camera body featured an engraving depicting the thousand-armed Kwannon.

In 1936, two years after the birth of the Kwanon and following much trial and error, Canon launched its first commercial 35mm focal-plane-shutter camera—the Hansa Canon, which was made possible through the cooperation of Nippon Kogaku K.K. (the present day Nikon Corporation).

“Over the 80 years since the birth of the Kwanon camera prototype, Canon has continuously innovated to fulfill the company’s never-ending ambition to create the world’s finest cameras,” said Masaya Maeda, managing director and chief executive, Image Communication Products Operations, Canon Inc. “Leveraging the technologies and know-how it has acquired over its history, Canon will continue contributing to the development of the photographic and video imaging culture through its technologies and products designed to satisfy the expectations of our customers.”

In 1959, Canon introduced its first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, the Canonflex. Following, in 1961, was the Canonet, an immensely popular rangefinder camera that sold out an entire week’s worth of inventory in two hours. Canon then continued to introduce a range of camera models, including the F-1, a top-of-the-line professional 35mm SLR introduced in 1971, and the AE-1, which was the first SLR camera equipped with a built-in microcomputer when it was introduced in 1976.

In 1987, Canon launched the EOS 650, the first AF (autofocus) SLR to incorporate a fully electronic mount system. In 1995, EOS marked its entry into the digital era, and in 2012, the company started to ship the Cinema EOS system, a lineup of professional digital cinematography cameras and lenses.