Canon Pellix

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The Canon Pellix is an unusual 35 mm SLR camera. Introduced in 1965,[1] it was Canon's first 35 mm focal-plane shutter SLR camera with through-the-lens metering. The moving mirror normally used in an SLR camera is replaced with a fixed, semitransparent pellicle[2] mirror. This divides the light from the lens, about two-thirds passing through the pellicle to reach the film, and the rest being reflected to the viewfinder. This arrangement has several advantages in comparison to a conventional SLR camera:

  • A simpler mechanism.
  • Quieter operation, without the sound of the mirror mechanism.
  • Less inertial motion of the camera when the shutter is released.
  • The viewfinder does not black out even momentarily during exposure.
  • The stationary mirror allows the use of a lens whose rear elements protrude further into the camera body; Canon made the compact Tessar-type FLP 38 mm f/2.8 lens[3] exclusively for use on the Pellix.

There are also disadvantages to the pellicle mirror. Being permanently in place, it reduces the amount of light available to make the image on the film. To compensate for this, the standard lens for the Pellix is the fast Canon FL 58 mm f/1.2 with automatic aperture diaphragm operation; the camera was also available with the 50 mm f/1.4 (again, an FL lens, not the FD lens pictured here). Later examples of the Pellix QL (below) were supplied with a 55 mm f/1.2.[4] Unlike a normal SLR, any dirt on the mirror also affects the image. The mirror itself, made of thin foil, is extremely vulnerable to damage. Examples sold second-hand often have torn or dirty mirrors. Finally, it is necessary for the focal-plane shutter to have metal curtains rather than cloth, to prevent the sun from burning holes in it, since it is likely to be illuminated from the lens for longer periods than the shutter in a normal SLR camera. The shutter gives a normal range of speeds, 1 - 1/1000 second, plus 'B'.

The pellicle mirror allows TTL metering. A meter cell is placed on a moving arm that 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 unfavourable 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 (Quick Load) feature, making film loading much easier, announced by a small QL badge on the front of the body (The Canon Camera Museum lists this as a separate model, the Pellix QL; in addition to the QL feature, the updated model also has a lock on the stop-down lever, and could accept a meter booster device for use in low light.[4]

The Pellix is considered collectible because of its unusual features, and examples are sold even when unusable.


  1. The Pellix at the Canon Camera Museum.
  2. Pellicle means a thin skin, membrane or film; Concise Oxford Dictionary, 9th edition, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995. ISBN 0-19-861319-9.
  3. Canon Camera Co., Canon Interchangeable Lens Guide, August 1968, pg. 141
  4. 4.0 4.1 Pellix QL at the Canon Camera Museum.


Canon Cameras