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Canon Celebrates 80th Anniversary of Kwanon, the Company's First Camera

LONDON, September 2, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --

Canon Europe, leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced that its parent company Canon Inc. is commemorating the 80th anniversary of Canon's first camera, the Kwanon. Marking Japan's first 35mm focal-plane-shutter camera, the Kwanon was produced in prototype form in 1934, the culmination of the dreams of engineers who wanted to catch up with Europe, the leading presence in the camera industry at the time.

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The engineers who created the camera decided to name 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-after Mahakasyapa, a disciple of Buddha-also took its name from Buddhism. 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 the Hansa Canon[1], its first commercial 35mm focal-plane-shutter camera, thus embarking on the Company's history as a camera manufacturer.

In 1959, Canon introduced its first single-lens reflex (SLR) camera, the Canonflex, followed in 1961 by the Canonet, an immensely popular rangefinder camera that took the market by storm, selling out an entire week's worth of inventory in a mere two hours. Following these successes, the Company continued to lead the industry with a range of popular camera models, such as the F-1, a top-of-the-line 35mm SLR camera introduced in 1971, and the AE-1, introduced in 1976, which was the world's first SLR camera equipped with a built-in microcomputer.

In 1987, following continued technological innovation, Canon launched EOS, the world's first AF (autofocus) SLR camera to employ a fully electronic mount system. In 1995, EOS marked its entry into the digital era and the line-up continues evolving today. In 2012, the Company released the Cinema EOS System, a line-up of professional digital cinematography cameras and lenses realised through the culmination of various technological innovations centred on optical technologies developed since the Company's founding. Since its introduction, the Cinema EOS System has contributed to expanding the horizons of visual expression.

Masaya Maeda, Managing Director and Chief Executive, Image Communication Products Operations at Canon Inc., comments: "Over the 80 years since the birth of the Kwanon camera prototype, Canon has continuously innovated to fulfil the Company's never-ending ambition to create the world's finest cameras. 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."


1. Made possible through the cooperation of Nippon Kogaku K.K. (present day Nikon Corporation). "Hansa" was the trademark of Omiya Photo Supply, a wholesaler of cameras and photo products. In accordance with a contractual obligation, it was engraved on the top of the camera.

About Canon Europe

Canon Europe is the regional sales and marketing operation for Canon Inc., represented in 116 countries and employing 17,000 people across Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

Founded in 1937 with the specific goal of making the best quality camera available to customers, Canon's tireless passion for the Power of Image has since extended its technology into many other markets and has established it as a world leader in both consumer and business imaging solutions.  Its solutions comprise products, ranging from digital compact and SLR cameras, through broadcast lenses and portable X-ray machines, to multi-function and production printers, all supported by a range of value added services.

Canon invests heavily in R&D to deliver the richest and most innovative products and services to satisfy customers' creative needs. From amateur photographers to professional print companies, Canon enables each customer to realise their own passion for image.

Canon's corporate philosophy is Kyosei - 'living and working together for the common good'. In EMEA, Canon Europe pursues sustainable business growth, focusing on reducing its own environmental impact and supporting customers to reduce theirs using Canon's products, solutions and services. Canon has achieved global certification to ISO 14001, demonstrating a world-class environmental management standard.

Further information about Canon Europe is available at:

Media enquiries, please contact:

Magda Bulska
Nelson Bostock Communications (on behalf of Canon Europe)
t. +44(0)20-7792-7424
e. [email protected]

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