The Canon Pellix, launched in 1965, is a rather unique manual focus SLR. It was Canon Camera Company's first 35mm focal-plane shutter SLR camera with TTL metering. However, what makes it special is the reflex mirror. The traditional moving SLR mirror is replaced by a fixed semitransparent pellicle mirror splitting the light rays from the lens into about 2/3 hitting the film, and the rest being reflected to the viewfinder. This yields an elegant construction, with almost silent operation and no shutter-related vibration, as well as no finder blackout. Also, whereas generally an SLR lens must be designed to consider clearing the mirror when the shutter is fired, this setup minimizes this engineering challenge. In fact, there is a special "FLP" designated 38mm f/2.8 that incorporates a very different 5-element design than the later-introduced 35mm f/2.8 "FL" designated lens using a retro focus lens design. Others have noted that the "FLP" lens was also much more compact. Regardless, mounting this "FLP" lens on an "FL" body will not work and may damage both the lens and the camera body when the shutter is fired.
The Pellix also incorporated TTL metering. A meter cell is placed on a moving arm which is swung-out in front of the film, using the large self-timer lever on the camera front. Pushing the lever towards the lens activates the stop down match-needle meter, while pulling in the opposite direction winds the timer. A viewfinder blind is provided to prevent light, under unfavorable conditions, to reach the film during exposure. It is operated by a knob surrounding the rewind knob, marked CLOSE - OPEN. The meter battery compartment is situated at the left-hand side of the camera, just next to the rewind knob. The rewind release is at the camera base, as is the back opening key. The shutter has a locking device combined with its collar, marked A and L.
A year after its introduction, the camera was equipped with the QL feature, making film loading much easier, - identified by a small QL badge on the front, for Quick Load. After many years, most of these cameras would be rendered useless. The reason being a defective meter circuit and a stained or torn mirror, the latter being extremely vulnerable, and almost certainly not clear and spotless. The camera is however highly collectible.
A major disadvantage of this design was that the photographer effectively lost an f-stop. The standard lens for the Pellix is the fast Canon Lens FL58mm 1:1.2 with automatic aperture diaphragm operation, functional because the extra light it lets through compensates for the loss of light due to the pellicle mirror.
- Photoethnography's Pellix page
- Retrofocus Design Problems: A Synopsis
- Canon Pellix Cameras at Photography in Malaysia
- Canon Pellix on www.collection-appareils.fr by Sylvain Halgand
- User manual in french for Pellix on www.collection-appareils.fr by Sylvain Halgand