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My L3 shouldn't exist?!?!
Old 02-13-2018   #1
tvrguy
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My L3 shouldn't exist?!?!

Folks I just bought a really strange animal. It appears to be an L3 (the bottom plate says that), however, it has a self timer, PC socket, and 1/1000th shutter speed?!??!?

Were these officially made, or has mine been modified?









I can't find any record of an L3 having these features. Anyone else?

Thanks
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Old 02-13-2018   #2
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I’ve got a canon VL1 that’s almost identical to yours except for the baseplate, rewind knob and steel shutter curtains. Yours could be one of the later models with a different baseplate.
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Old 02-25-2018   #3
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It's interesting, I've still been searching for any info on this, and haven't found any explanation for this camera existing. it actually looks like a VL-2, but it has 1/1000th shutter speed. Otherwise, it's close. I'd be tempted to say it's some other camera with the baseplate transplanted from an L3, but I haven't found any other Canon rangefinders that have the lever advance, self timer, 1/1000th shutter speed, flash sync, and the pop-up knob rewind.

I am wondering if it's some kind of prototype. Also, there is some kind of marking around the viewfinder in the front of the camera, that seems to indicate something had been mounted there at some point. Very strange.
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Old 02-25-2018   #4
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Odd beast, for sure! According to Dechert's book, nothing was produced with those specs and configuration irregardless of what the baseplate says. Would you mind sharing the serial number?
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Old 02-26-2018   #5
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It's a hybrid of VL1 and L2 with a bottom plate from L3.
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Old 02-27-2018   #6
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The VL1, L2 and L3 were all in production at roughly the same time. It's possible that Canon was just using up some old parts so mixed-and-matched to create you hybrid camera.

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Old 02-27-2018   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
It's a hybrid of VL1 and L2 with a bottom plate from L3.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mackinaw View Post
The VL1, L2 and L3 were all in production at roughly the same time. It's possible that Canon was just using up some old parts so mixed-and-matched to create you hybrid camera.

Jim B.
Possibly cobbled together using parts from several donor bodies?
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Old 02-27-2018   #8
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Ha! This is hilarious. I am awaiting arrival on an almost identical beast bought off ebay this weekend.

Though the auction did not show pictures of the base plate, it appears to be an L1 with a VL2 top plate.

Has 1/1000th speed, flash sync, cloth curtains, no self-timer...yet has the knob rewind.

Here's the auction: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-L1-35...53.m2749.l2649

Once I get it I will report what if any markings on the base plate. I actually bought it because I like the knob rewind. It stays out of the way better when loading film.
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Old 02-27-2018   #9
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That's interesting. So there may be other "unique" cameras out there from that time period.

I was going to put it on ebay myself, or sell it through here. Tough to determine what's it's worth, though, when there are no other cameras like it!
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Old 02-27-2018   #10
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I've been messing with these models for a number of years and have never seen one like these-- but two in the same week! That's serendipity! Yes, baseplate switches happen more frequently, and while anything is possible, I suspect both of these are user-conversions...for whatever reason. If anything, it probably makes them less valuable (these models don't seem to fetch much money anyway, despite the relative rarity...(I'm not complaining)). I may open mine to clean the viewfinder...but unless I'm mistaken Canon did not inscribe serial numbers on the internals like Leica, so it will be pretty hard to tell if it came from the factory that way.
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Old 02-27-2018   #11
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Probably true, bluesun267. Oddly, though, even the top plate features don't seem to match having a self-timer. Forgetting about the bottom plate engraving - was there a body that came with self-timer, flash sync, 1/1000th max shutter speed, lever wind, and the rewind knob??

One thing that I guess we all have to keep in mind - the likelihood that our sources of information on these cameras are likely ancient and possibly not complete.

I did call Canon and essentially, they didn't know anything about it. Ancient history for them.
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Old 02-27-2018   #12
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Canon didn't have an 'a la carte' program. Sorry.

You have a bitsa. Someone's fantasy camera. Bitsas are rare, but only in the sense that because they are made from disparate parts, each is unique. A one of one. But, bitsas don't sell well. Rarity does not equate to value.
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Old 02-27-2018   #13
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Gotcha. Still interesting though.
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Old 02-27-2018   #14
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There’s a retired Canon repair tech on the Facebook “Canon Historical Society” group. He personally has created hybrids using parts from V-series and L-series cameras. Maybe you have one of his creations.

A few weeks back, somebody was selling a Canon 7 that had a trigger-wind from a Vt attached to its bottom.

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Old 02-27-2018   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mackinaw View Post
Thereís a retired Canon repair tech on the Facebook ďCanon Historical SocietyĒ group. He personally has created hybrids using parts from V-series and L-series cameras. Maybe you have one of his creations.

A few weeks back, somebody was selling a Canon 7 that had a trigger-wind from a Vt attached to its bottom.

Jim B.
I remember seeing that one, and thought, isn't the Canon 7 big enough already?
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Old 02-27-2018   #16
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Oh cool, maybe I'll see if I can track that person down.
Thanks
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Old 02-27-2018   #17
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I thought I'd give a rundown of what I know of these L/V models, based on several years experience:

VT--Trigger wind, 1/1000th, FP/X flash sync, rewind KNOB, cloth curtain, self-timer
L1--Lever wind, 1/1000th, FP/X sync, rewind LEVER, cloth curtain, NO self timer, model # on baseplate
L2--Lever wind, 1/500th, FP sync only, rewind KNOB, cloth curtain, NO self timer, model # on baseplate
L3--As L2 but no flash sync of any kind
VT Deluxe--As VT, but with rewind LEVER and metal curtains
VL--Lever wind, 1/1000th, FP/X sync, rewind LEVER, metal curtains, self-timer, NO model # on baseplate
VL2--As VL but with 1/500th and rewind KNOB

I read somewhere the late-production L models can sometimes be found with metal curtains, but have never seen one myself.

I think I should make some sort of spreadsheet for this...
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Old 02-27-2018   #18
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So it kind of seems like I have an L1 with a self-timer.
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Old 02-27-2018   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tvrguy View Post
So it kind of seems like I have an L1 with a self-timer.
L1 has rewind crank, not knob. The knob is a L2/L3 feature.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesun267 View Post
I thought I'd give a rundown of what I know of these L/V models, based on several years experience:

VT--Trigger wind, 1/1000th, FP/X flash sync, rewind knob, cloth curtain, self-timer
L1--Lever wind, 1/1000th, FP/X sync, rewind lever, cloth curtain, NO self timer, model # on baseplate
L2--Lever wind, 1/500th, FP sync only, rewind knob, cloth curtain, NO self timer, model # on baseplate
L3--As L2 but no flash sync of any kind
VT Deluxe--As VT, but with rewind lever and metal curtains
VL--As L1 but with self-timer, metal curtains, NO model # on baseplate
VL2--As L1 but with 1/500th, self-timer, metal curtains, no model # on baseplate

I read somewhere the late-production L models can sometimes be found with metal curtains, but have never seen one myself.

I think I should make some sort of spreadsheet for this...

I have an L2 with metal curtain. The seller listed it as VL2..
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Old 02-28-2018   #20
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Guys, if you don’t have a copy of Peter Dechert’s long out of print Canon rangefinder book, I highly recommend tracking down a copy. Very concise and informative. A good read for any Canon RF enthusiast.
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Old 02-28-2018   #21
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Quote:
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Guys, if you donít have a copy of Peter Dechertís long out of print Canon rangefinder book, I highly recommend tracking down a copy. Very concise and informative. A good read for any Canon RF enthusiast.
Yep, I agree. I bought mine back in 1985, when it first was published. It's now tattered and torn, but is my go-to book on anything Canon rangefinder. The best thing out there, by far.

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Old 02-28-2018   #22
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Just updated the list to correct VL2 description and perhaps make it a little easier to ID the key differences:
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesun267 View Post

VT--Trigger wind, 1/1000th, FP/X flash sync, rewind KNOB, cloth curtain, self-timer
L1--Lever wind, 1/1000th, FP/X sync, rewind LEVER, cloth curtain, NO self timer, model # on baseplate
L2--Lever wind, 1/500th, FP sync only, rewind KNOB, cloth curtain, NO self timer, model # on baseplate
L3--As L2 but no flash sync of any kind
VT Deluxe--As VT, but with rewind LEVER and metal curtains
VL--Lever wind, 1/1000th, FP/X sync, rewind LEVER, metal curtains, self-timer, NO model # on baseplate
VL2--As VL but with 1/500th and rewind KNOB
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The Mystery Thickens
Old 02-28-2018   #23
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The Mystery Thickens

I received the VL2/L1 Hybrid camera today...very hazy finder so I immediately commenced to disassembly.

What I found intrigues me:



As you can see, the last four digits of the top plate serial no are inscribed on the inner chassis. Pretty sure this was done by Canon, as I recall now my VL has the same thing (but it's been awhile since I opened that one up). This serial number corresponds to VL2 range, yet we've got no self-timer, cloth curtain and 1/1000th top speed. The L1s I've seen have lower serial numbers, in the 520xxxx to 540xxxx range approximately.



The baseplate has no Model # either.

Unfortunately the viewfinder might be a total loss. The beamsplitter is a cemented prism and I don't see how to gain entry to clean the haze. (Anyone know about this? Advice would be appreciated).

I began searching ebay for a donor camera and immediately found an apparent L2 in the VL2 serial# range, but with cloth curtain, FP/X sync and NO self timer! So that's THREE Canon's that shouldn't exist in one week!

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Canon-L2-Le...oAAOSwWb9aluLP

At this point I'm inclined to conclude that Canon may have put together some cameras from disparate parts and those delineations between L/V series models may be more amorphous than originally thought. (I have Dechert's book on order BTW.)
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Old 02-28-2018   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluesun267 View Post
.......At this point I'm inclined to conclude that Canon may have put together some cameras from disparate parts and those delineations between L/V series models may be more amorphous than originally thought. (I have Dechert's book on order BTW.)
Dechert mentions in his book that Canon made too many top plates for the Vt (with knob wind) so used them on other rangefinders of this time period. Mixing and matching of extra parts was not an unusual practice. Canon (or any manufacturer) wasnít going to throw away parts (Nikon used extra top plates for the M on early S models). If they made them, they used them.

And you will enjoy Dechertís book.

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Old 02-28-2018   #25
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The other book of great interest to Canon collectors is
Peter Kitchingman-- Canon Lenses 1939-1971
ISBN 976-0-646-48144-9
It is self published at [email protected]
www.canonrangefinder.com
There is more in this book than you ever need to know, including
cracking the Canon numbering system.
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Old 02-28-2018   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mackinaw View Post
Dechert mentions in his book that Canon made too many top plates for the Vt (with knob wind) so used them on other rangefinders of this time period. Mixing and matching of extra parts was not an unusual practice. Canon (or any manufacturer) wasnít going to throw away parts (Nikon used extra top plates for the M on early S models). If they made them, they used them.

And you will enjoy Dechertís book.

Jim B.
Thanks for that Jim. That would explain a lot of what we're seeing--as long as they didn't engrave serial numbers ahead of time, nor cut the opening for the frame counter window until the camera was put together (trigger wind models have window at 6 o'clock, lever wind models at 10 o'clock).
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Old 02-28-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kangaroo2012 View Post
The other book of great interest to Canon collectors is
Peter Kitchingman-- Canon Lenses 1939-1971
ISBN 976-0-646-48144-9
It is self published at [email protected]
www.canonrangefinder.com
There is more in this book than you ever need to know, including
cracking the Canon numbering system.
Cheers
Kangaroo2012
That website does not work for me. Any help?
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Old 02-28-2018   #28
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That website does not work for me. Any help?
Peter's site is DOA. If you want to see what he wrote on Canon rangefinder lenses, you have to buy his book.

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Old 03-01-2018   #29
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This is all fascinating and great info. I also suspect, they used what they had. That's a lot easier than believing someone went through the trouble of combining parts from 3 different cameras to make the one that's on my desk right now. Either way, it's fun to dig into this stuff. Maybe I'll buy one or both books.
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