Canon RC-701 (© D. Williams)

Canon RC-701 (1986)

The Canon RC-701. An improved version of the D413 prototype. The first professional still video camera to hit the market in July of 1986. RC stood for Realtime Camera by the way. The camera could record up to 10 frames per second. Four intechangeable lenses were available and with a special adaptor (LA-RC) even FD lenses could be mounted. The CCD was made by Texas Instruments. The camera used a flip-up mirror that covered the CCD. Inside the camera were features like automatic exposure control for shutter speed and aperture, motor drive as well as field- and frame mode.

Almost every website and everyone else claims that Canon used this camera in 1984 to shoot the Olympic Summer Games in Los Angeles. This is of course rubbish. Canon used the D413, a prototype version and some newly developed still video devices like transmitter and receiver, to conduct the image transmission experiments. The experiences they made back then led to the development of the RC-701.

Canon offered the camera and lens along with some hefty peripheral devices like for instance a color video printer RP-601 ($6,950), a still video recorder/player RR-551 ($2,700) and still video transceiver RT-971 ($20,900). Each item equally or more expensive than the camera itself! Printing a color image with the RP-601 took up to 4.5 minutes.

Unknown to most, both a color and monochrome version of the RC-701 still video camera were marketed. Canon used the following slogan to introduce the camera to the market:

'By the time you read the words on this page, we can transmit the pictures around the world'


  • Brand: Canon
  • Model: RC-701
  • First mentioned: 1986
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $2,725 (body) and $730 (lens)
  • Imager Type: 0.38MP 2/3" CCD
  • Resolution: 780x490
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Video Floppy Disk
  • Lens: interchangeable
  • Shutter: 1/8s to 1/2,000s
  • Aperture Range: F1.2 / F1.8 / F2.8 /
  • LCD screen size: -
  • Size: 162 x 101 x 51.5mm
  • Weight: 900 gr.
  • Remarks: Color and Monochrome version marketed

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