|Favorite Classics Cameras Canon Demi|
by Henry Taber
The Canon Demi is a half frame camera. In fact, Demi is a French word for "half". And although it uses ordinary cartridge style 35mm film, it takes two 24 x 18mm exposures on a normal 24 x 36mm film frame. This means a 36 exposure roll will actually hold 72 separate half frame photos. Quite a savings in money if only simple snapshots are desired. Economics was the reason for the half frame cameras of the sixties. Color film was very expensive in comparison the B&W of the day.
The Demi is a beautiful child of the sixties. Yet its styling was much ahead of its time. It looks more at home among the modern electronic point and shoots than it does among its heavy rangefinder Canonet and SLR contemporaries. Its sleek, metal body panels wrap around rounded corners giving the camera a comfortable feel in ones hands.
The first Demi was introduced in February of 1963, by no means was it the first half frame camera. (The very first half frame was the 1908 Lleo, since it was the first still camera to use perforated 35mm film. 35mm movie cameras expose frames the same size and orientation as a half frame camera. So in reality 35mm cameras are "double frame" cameras.) It wasnt the first from the big Japanese makers either. The very popular Olympus Pen cameras were first released in 1959.
By the end of 1963 Demis came in four colors: the original black leatherette, red, white, and blue. The latter three colors were quickly discontinued.
Then in September of 1964 Canon released a higher end version: the Demi S. It had a better lens (30mm f/1.7 instead of the original 28mm f/2.8) and improved metering system.
In April of 1965 an interchangeable lens version came out: the Demi C. It had two lenses that only fit the Demi C: a 28mm f/2.8 and a 50mm f/2.8.
The Demi Rapid came out in June of 1965. It was basically a Demi S with the new fad "rapid loading system" a battery operated Cds metering system and a self timer.
May of 1966 saw the debut of the top of the line Demi EE17. It was a Demi Rapid without the rapid film loading spool. Progress!
The final Demi was the Demi EE28. It was released in April of 1967 and was a giant step backwards from the Demi EE17 having a selenium cell metering system and the 28mm f/2.8 lens.
But the time of the half frame cameras was ending. Color film was getting cheaper so economics wasnt the big incentive it once had been. And Kodak Instamatic 126 cartridges were becoming the newest short lived fad. Like the half frames, 126 cartridges were soon replaced by the very small 110 cartridges. And I suppose APS will finally be a replacement for the 110s. (Dont get me started ranting on why 35mm cartridges havent been upgraded to the excellent capabilities of the modern APS cartridges.)