Canon Canonet QL17 GIII Rangefinder

Front page of QL17 GIII Manual

Front page of QL17 GIII Manual

I've recently fallen in love with rangefinders. Every single model has an aura about them that only resembles something cool. For me, I think its the fact that you aren't peering through a concoction of angled mirrors, or maybe its just because I love boxy objects. Those Leica "M" line rangefinders have top plates that are so ridiculously sexy with that swooping L engraved into the Leica name. 

What do you do though when you can't afford a sexy Leica? You get the "poor man's Leica," as the QL17 GIII is so lovingly named. 

I picked one of these up off eBay a while back from a guy who services cameras and sells them. I payed a little more as it had just been serviced and he had replaced all the light seals. Canon produced the QL17 from 1972 to 1982 while creating three models or "gens," which you can see on the front of the camera (GIII).

One cool thing to notice is the CDS cell on the filter ring of the lens. If you have a filter screwed on this little thing will compensate for it which is sorta nifty I guess.

Rangefinders are usually pretty nice in size and this one is fairly compact. Its also really simple to use. All the parameters for aperture, shutter speed, and film speed are all set on a 40mm F/1.7 flash-sync lens as it is non-detachable. A little focus lever extends off the side of the lens, which for me is quite awkward to use and based on the first 6 or 7 rolls I shot, it's very hard to get a crisp subject wheN at f/4 and under.

The back yields a battery check button and light. Although the camera can be used with no battery whatsoever, when then lens is set to auto the internal light meter will automatically decide what aperture to use based off your shutter speed. When the lens is set to "A" the light meter is continuously running so you'll have to turn the aperture off auto when you aren't using the camera. 

The orange stripes in the little window dance back and forth when advancing the film to let you know that nothing is jacked up. 

When I first started shooting with this, I thought it was broken. Its so quiet that I couldn't hear the shutter slap. I had to slow it down to 1/4th sec and look down through lens to see if the shutter was opening and closing. QL17s tend to have sticky aperture blades which have to be accessed through the back of the camera which is a pain.

One of the things I don't like about this camera is its fastest shutter speed is 1/500th which makes it easy to underexpose in broad daylight. Your basically running f/16 and 1/500th the whole stupid time your in the midday sun. I also don't necessarily love the way you focus the thing. The little nub that sticks out is easy to miss in quick scenarios but overall, I love it.  

Cool stuff anyways. Looks pretty sexy with the G-III in red on the front. I take it with me just about everywhere I go.

A few recent shots from mine...

Ilford HP5+ 400

Ilford HP5+ 400

Ilford HP5+ 400

Ilford HP5+ 400

Ilford HP5+ 400

Ilford HP5+ 400

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400

Fujicolor Superia X-TRA 400