Canon Dial 35 (Bell & Howell Dial 35)


Canon Dial 35 (Bell & Howell Dial 35)

Canon Dial 35


The Canon Dial 35 was first released in 1963. It already has a CDS meter and film is advanced via a spring motor. It's a horizontally orientated semi automatic camera, you choose the speed and it sets the aperture. In 1968 a second version was released, the 35-2, which has major improvements: a much better spring motor, extended ISO to 800/1000, a more recent battery and it has a hot shoe. Both versions were also sold branded as Bell & Howell.

Features and Operation

The camera's main features are:

  • 35mm film half-frame camera, picture size 24 x 18 mm
  • Canon SE lens, 28mm f/2.8 (3-group 5 element), focus 0.8m-∞, focus indicator in the viewer
  • Shutter speeds 1/30 to 1/250, aperture 2.8 to 22, aperture indicator in the viewer
  • Size 140 (95) x 75 x 43 mm, Weight : 455 g
  • ISO 8-400

The Canon Dial 35 is a very big and heavy camera, not so easy to handle, as the settings are in unusual places. Once you get used, it's fine. The indicators for aperture and distance in the bright viewer are very handy. 

It takes sharp pictures. Spacing is tight, so you get at least 75 photos from a roll. It's for outdoor photos and well lit interiors not far from the window. There is no hot shoe for flash, but a flash socket and an accessory shoe. No night photos, as 1/30 is the longest exposure time. It's big and very, very heavy. The massive spring motor sticks far out of the body. So this is a beautiful vintage camera of limited use, but it's fun.

The CDS meter window is at 2 o'clock above the lens. The setting is done by aperture disks which are slid in front of this window according to the film speed and the shutter speed. They are visible on the front photo. If you don't use the slowest speeds, you can turn beyond 400 ISO and still get correct exposure.

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Find a Canon Dial 35 on Etsy


The Canon Dial 35 is an unconventional half-frame 35mm camera with clockwork automatic film advance. It was made in Japan by Canon from November 1963. The Dial 35 was also sold as the Bell & Howell Dial 35.

The body has an unusual "portrait" format rectangular shape, with a short, wide-diameter lens barrel containing the CdS meter photocells window around the 28mm lens. Rotating the lens barrel sets the speed of the Seikosha shutter; the aperture is set automatically. A button below the viewfinder can be pulled out to give manual aperture control, for manual exposure settings or flash. Film speed is set on a scale around the meter window.

Focus is set on a lever around the top of the lens barrel, with a display inside the viewfinder.

There is a cylindrical handle at the bottom, which also winds the clockwork mechanism. On the (user's) left is an accessory shoe. The film runs vertically, from the cassette at the top to the take-up spool at the bottom, giving a landscape-format 24×18mm frame when the camera is upright.

Dial 35-2

The 35-2 has a black nameplate at the top in place of the engraved name and a longer-lasting clockwork motor. Speed range is increased to 1000ASA, the meter uses a different battery and a hot shoe is added.



Check out this camera on Instagram #canondial35

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This post was created with information kindly contributed by 135Compact

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