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April 4, 2013 / Gregory Williams

Camera Results: Canon Rangefinders

Canonet 28

Since I started posting to this site I’ve tested eighteen 35mm film cameras, and now that my craving to horde these fascinating antiquated devices has subsided, it’s time to share my  findings.

I will ultimately write several posts about the results, but let’s get started with the rangefinders. Specifically, the Canon Canonet 28 and the Canonet QL17.

Canon Canonet 28

This little gem of a jacket pocket sized camera has an Auto aperture setting or manual stops between 2.8 and 16, with support for film speeds up to 400. Compared to other rangefinders the main draw backs are no self timer, and no manual shutter speeds. Sturdy but light construction and a classic look make this a great carry camera for everyday use. Be careful when buying online however. A fair price is no more than $60 depending on condition, and usually can be found in good shape for about $40.

Canon Canonet QL17

Canonet QL 17

Canonet QL 17

In contrast to the Cononet 28, the older QL17 is heavy, boxy, large and fully featured. With support for shutter speeds up to 500/sec, and an aperture as large as 1.7 it’s very versatile with support for film speeds as high as 800. Unfortunately, it’s so old it requires a home made adapter to work with modern alkaline cell batteries, and once powered the light meter on my QL responded too slowly for capturing action with proper exposures. Possibly a voltage issue?

This iteration of the QL line is realistically worth no more than $60 or $70 unless it and its case are in mint condition.

To my eye, the Canonet 28 out performed the QL17 for picture quality and has enough features to still be loaded and situated in an accessible pocket of my messenger bag. The QL17 has been packed away until it’s time to sell or display it.

Next time I will begin to cover the remaining rangefinders I’ve tested. Including the Konica Auto SPetri 7 S Circle Eye System, and the Graflex Century 35.


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