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.
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) is 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 to worry that 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.