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edmund j. kowalski | profile | all galleries >> Galleries >> Canon Pellix with Flawed Optics tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Canon Pellix with Flawed Optics

The Canon Pellix of 1965 is a fairly unique item in the history of SLR camera bodies.

Typically, the mirror inside of an SLR camera reflects the image from the lens up onto a screen to allow for composition and focusing before opening the shutter. Then, just before the exposure, the mirror flips out of the way to open the path back to the fiIm (or sensor, in a digital SLR).

But the Pellix was designed with a "pellicle" in place of a conventional mirror. This is a semi-transparent thin wafer set at a 45 degree angle to reflect about a third of the light up onto the focusing screen while two thirds or so of the light is allowed to pass through and on back through the shutter to the film.

They were not a cheap camera, and I had never owned one.
Then I found this Pellix body on a five dollar per item table at the Belleville Flea Market. For another five doallars I picked up a Canon mount Vivitar f:2.5 / 28mm lens.

On the outside the body looked very good. The shutter worked perfectly. And the meter came to life with a battery, looked to be accurate as well.
Everything else tested out mechanically. The light trap at the hinge end of the door was deteriorated, but still there, and its position does not look all that critical.
I looked through the five dollar f:2.5 / 28 mm lens. It was clean on the outside, front and rear glass good. But inner surfaces of the glass had a good bit of fungus visible.
And the pellicle mirror in the camera body was absolutely filthy.

I researched a bit on the internet about the pellicle. They are quite delicate, made of mylar or some such material. Everyone seemed to agree that they cannot be cleaned, and once dirty they are useless. And it is extremely difficult and expensive to replace.

Well, I had nothing heroic in mind for a five dollar camera.
So I thought, there is smudgy dusty dirt on the pellicle, and what would be the least traumatic approach in cleaning most anything? For anything impermeable, should be plain water. I pulled out a fresh cotton swab and went to the sink, and wet an end with a few drops of water, then immediately delicately wiped the front side of the pellicle, using minimal pressure. And much, if not all, of the dirt came off.

I found a 27 exposure roll of generic no-name film, asa 400, of unknown age in my freezer and let it warm overnight.
In the morning I impulsively loaded the Pellix (it has the Quick Load feature) and went out into back yard and front yard, and had an enjoyable time exposing all 27 frames.
Something quite noticeable is the way there is no lag time between pressing the release and the shutter opening. Shutter does not have to wait for a mirror to flip out of the way. I rather liked the sensation of instant release.
I mailed the cartridge off to Dwayne's.

Who knew what I would get? I was thinking maybe fall scenes with a dreamlike look to them?

Well, the results came back from the lab today. There was a bit of that dreaminess in some of it, but I was actually shocked by the quality of most of the images, considerating the flaws in the optics and the questionable history of the film. A fair sampling is below.

Please click on thumbnails to see enlarged.
All images are 2017 E.J.Kowalski.
Thanks! Ed
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