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Canon Canonet QL17 G-III: Poor Man's Leica

Can be found easily, compact, easy to load, automatic or manual override, and equipped with fast and sharp lens make it one of the best and affordable rangefinder camera ever made. Some people call it poor man's Leica.

Photo from: theunderdahls.com

Canonet QL17 G-III is the last Canonet series of produced by Canon, which manufactured from 1972 to 1982. The “G” in the camera designation stood for “Grade Up” which referred to the quality improvement. The “III” indicated the third-generation Canonet series, following the original Canonet QL17 and the New Canonet QL17 (taken from canon.com)

I bought mine cheaply, around €20, from a flea market in a good working condition with clean lens. I was surprised by its compact size compared to other rangefinder cameras. One thing I like the most is its 40mm 1:1.7 lens which is much faster than the lens on my other cameras. Along with self timer, I am able to shoot portrait and self-portrait without having much distortion. Usually, I treat this camera the same as my LOMO LC-A+ in terms of fast operating by using automatic mode (shutter priority) and zone focusing (the layout of focusing lever is also the same as LC-A+). However, I can also switch it to manual mode and focusing precisely with the rangefinder. Inside the viewfinder, coincidence rangefinder and the automatic parallax correcting frame can be seen on the middle while light meter reading for the aperture is shown on the right side.

For film loading, a brilliant system called QL (quick loading) installed so I can simply put the film leader on the sprocket, close the back cover and I’m ready for shooting 40 frames from a roll. No need worrying the film won’t advance because there is a sign that confirming film movement and a sign that turns red when the shutter is ready. Automatic mode for ISO 25-800 is operated by using a 1.3v mercury battery (battery checking function is also available). It is not so easy to obtain the specified battery, but hearing-aid battery is said to be suitable as an alternative. I prefer choosing used LR44 battery from LC-A+ because the voltage is almost the same (I guess) and I don’t really care about a little under or overexposed metering and I usually conform the meter reading with sunny 16 rule.

A rangefinder camera like this is known to be used for street photography and made popular by Leica. If you don’t want to spend much money on a Leica, Canonet QL17 G-III is the best choice for you whatever your style is, automatic or manual, day or night, bokeh or sharp lover, panning or motion stopper, zone focus or rangefinder, for street or portrait.

written by nerdcist

22 comments

  1. trash-gordon-from-outer-space

    trash-gordon-from-outer-space

    Such a beautiful camera. And also a pretty gallery.

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. riki_87

    riki_87

    yeah nice Canonet!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. vicuna

    vicuna

    A fantastic camera and I'm so happy to have this camera in my collection! :) I fully agree with you about the fast shooting, the quick loading, the possibility to shoot 40 pictures on a 36exp roll and the amazing sharp 1.7 lens... a true jewel of photography! I used it by night with Fuji Press 800 and it gave some stunning results.... http://bit.ly/9yHPkz and http://bit.ly/aL4QfE

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. stijn_b

    stijn_b

    Interesting camera, I didn't know about the fast shooting and loading capabilities. Thanks for that! Guess I've got another camera on the wanted list : )

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. nicolas_noir

    nicolas_noir

    Lovely gallery, but 18 would get you arrested over here! Love the long shadow on 25! Great review!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  6. superlighter

    superlighter

    very precious gallery! I have one in my collection but sadly didn't work at all, however...a fab paper weight!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. stouf

    stouf

    Glorious B&Ws !

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  8. wuxiong

    wuxiong

    Great camera. I've been wanting it for years. But it seems that its price is still too high here in used camera shop in China...wuwuwuwu... Like your photos::))

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  9. -a-l-b-e-r-t-o-

    -a-l-b-e-r-t-o-

    I know it's a great camera and your gallery is fantastic

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. falsedigital

    falsedigital

    I got lucky and found this camera in practically mint condition at a thrift sale for only $4. Crazy eh? It's a great camera for sure. One of the best fixed lens rangefinder cameras. Nice gallery, happy to see you use it well :D

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  11. adi_totp

    adi_totp

    I got this from my grandfather :D really great review :D :D

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  12. adi_totp

    adi_totp

    Love no 12 :D

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  13. paramir

    paramir

    great review and gallery!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  14. zulupt

    zulupt

    Great review & gallery!!!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  15. nerdcist

    nerdcist

    thanks everyone

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  16. kylewis

    kylewis

    Fantastic review and congrats on Camera of the week!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  17. frenchplaymo

    Great review..;and now I want one Canonet more than ever!

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  18. stickyvinny

    stickyvinny

    Great review!

    over 3 years ago · report as spam
  19. stormer

    stormer

    These are GREAT cameras. I don't know why lomography.com does not have a camera section for them.

    almost 3 years ago · report as spam
  20. tamsoam

    tamsoam

    Great article man. I 've just got mine today from the french ebay !!! load first time with tungsten. My christmas present so happy !!! thanx to make me wait impatiently with your review.
    see ya maybe when i'll developp my first film. X tungsten i choosed. first with that too !!! :)

    over 2 years ago · report as spam
  21. 110isnotdead

    110isnotdead

    I will totally second the "poor man's Leica" moniker given to it. I inherited mine from my mom (she is still living, mind you). I took it to the grand canyon last winter and got some amazing shots. And it totally held up to the below freezing temps that we encountered (seriously it got into the mid 20s after the sun set).
    Great article, can't wait for more.

    about 2 years ago · report as spam
  22. 110isnotdead

    110isnotdead

    Hey does anyone who uses this know how to get the double exposures. I'm not sure how to do it since it doesnt have a MX switch. THoughts?

    about 2 years ago · report as spam