Vintage Leicas remain some of the most popular cameras with collectors and film photographers. Along with them, Leica copies and competitors also receive a fair amount of attention, whether for novelty or for being interesting models on their own. A great example is our latest vintage find, a rare Canon 7 rangefinder, which became a direct competitor of the Leica M3. If that makes you curious, step right up, and check it out!
The rare, black Canon 7 body spotted on eBay is listed by Japan-based seller arigato-jpn in near mint condition, with only a few scuffs from normal use. Upon checking the item with serial number 830015 at a camera specialty store in Japan, the seller found that it still works properly. The viewfinder is bright and has no problems with visibility. It also comes with a body cap.
Like what you see so far? It’s yours for $1,199.90. It’s more or less within the price range of a Leica M3, but certainly less than original black paint bodies in near-mint condition.
Why would you pick a Canon 7 over a Leica M3? What makes it an interesting Leica copy worthy of a space in your camera collection? According to Camerapedia, this 35mm rangefinder was manufactured from September 1961 to early 1965. It has an M39 screw mount and could also fit a special bayonet mount for the Canon 50mm f0.95 lens. It has a 0.80x magnification viewfinder with switchable frame lines for 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm, and 135mm, and a Selenium cell light meter.
The Canon 7 was designed to address the need for a fast rangefinder camera – the target market being the press. CanonRangefinder.org cites Peter Dechert, the author of Canon Rangefinder Cameras 1933 – 1968, as having said that this model had a longer development period compared to any of the Canon rangefinders prior, and was considered state of the art when it came out. In fact, Camera Quest stated that the Canon 7, as well as its improved (and now rarer) versions Canon 7s and Canon 7sZ, are among the most advanced among the Leica copies in existence.
However, the Leica M3 proved to be the more popular option, and rangefinder cameras also found themselves in competition with the early SLR cameras released at the time. Today, the Canon 7 has become significantly popular for its compatibility with the Canon 50mm f0.95 lens, which was the fastest lens at the time, and among the noteworthy fast lenses made. Also, only the Canon 7 and its improved versions have the outer bayonet mount for attaching this super-fast lens.
Interested in the Canon 7 but aren’t willing to fork out $1,200 for this black model? You can grab any of these chrome bodies for way cheaper. They may be total bargains, but Camera Quest also assures us that this camera is “a far better user than ANY of the other Canon RFs other than the 7s, and a far better user than ANY of the Leica screw mount bodies. Its only other disadvantage is not being able to brag to your friends at the country club about how much it cost.”
Photos from the ebay listing by arigato-jpn