View Full Version : Buying a Canonet

03-06-2004, 14:00
I have decided to get a Canonet GIII QL17 off eBay. Anything in particular I should ask / look for?

I understand the camera will likely need to be cleaned and whatnot, and the whole 625 mercury cell thing.

Anything else? I'm looking forward to shooting flash-free low-light shots!

[Or, if you really want to stir the pot, you could suggest another similar camera...]

Wayne R. Scott
03-06-2004, 14:26

Excellent choice in a starter rangefinder. I have a couple and consider them my poor boy Lecias. I like the 40mm view and the lens is quite sharp.

What to look for? Most of the never ready cases are in pretty sad shape these days so the case may not be a sign of camera condition. If you can get a QL-17 GIII with the matching Canolite flash and 48mm filters and hood it may be worth a few extra $$ not to have to scrounge around looking for them as the 48mm accessories are not real common unlike 49mm and 52mm. If you can find one that works on manual and not A you may get a bargain you just have to use a hand held meter or your brain with sunny 16 rule modified for your location. Also the foam seals will most likely be in sad shape but this replacement can be a do it yourself project. In my case I found a QL-17 GIII at a good will type store with never ready case, larger camera case, canolite flash and 4 rolls of film for $15, because they said the shutter was jammed. I took it out of A mode snapped the shutter a couple of times with my back to the clerk, then slipped it back into A mode and handed over my $15. I ran to the local camera store by a Wein Air cell to replace the dead mercury battery and Viola!! It works on A and the flash also works. I never had any luck bidding on Feebay for the Ql-17 at a price I wanted to pay.

Good Luck.

Edited for some of my fat finger typos.

03-06-2004, 15:13

Maybe I am worrying too much. I suppose buying a vintage camera is not like buying a vintage car.

I am looking at this one. There are a lot on eBay, but I'd like one in Canada to save shipping hassles.


03-06-2004, 15:30
Good luck Dave, and welcome to the forum. My advice after some eBay purchases (including a couple of Canonets) is that no matter if you are outbidded, there always be another opportunity :)

A somewhat fragile component on Canonets is the shutter speed ring, mine was broken and stuck at 1/125, it could be repaired finally, but I ended paying more than some minty and "warranted" ones went for... You can ask if that ring turns freely and shutter speeds seem to change properly.

Anyway I'm really really happy with mine, so it was well worth all the time and effort. As you'll soon find for yourself, that lens is great, and the camera is a pleasure to use :)

Good luck !


03-06-2004, 16:56

It's a good camera, I'm sure you'll like it if you get a good one! I've got three (I kept forgetting I already had one, how stupid is that) and one of them has a slight problem - it sometimes doesn't 'lock' after winding on after a shot - so I end up burning a frame to wind on to the next shot. The other two are brilliant.

Since I've purchased about eleventy-dozen vintage fixed-lens rangefinders in the past year, I'd say that I have a pretty good batting average with the Canonets - they 'mostly' seem to be in good shape and not have the typical stuck/slow shutter or dingy viewfinder of some of the others.

Frankly, I find the Minolta Hi-Matic 7S and 9 series produces sharper images - but the Canonet is built well and is slightly smaller and lighter, and the Canolite flash gives you some cool options for daylight fill flash that only the Hi-Matic 9 can match.

I also find the Yashica Electro 35 GSN series produce sharper images than the Canonet, but they don't have manual shutter speed control, and I've got 4 of 'em - 1 works. See what I mean?

All in all, hard to go wrong with a Canonet - good luck to you!

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

03-06-2004, 17:15
Welcome Dave, when bidding on a camera I always ask about the lens, any scratches, cleaning marks, fungus, dust? Does the aperture ring operate correctly? Has the camera ever been dropped? I like to hear that the seller has used the camera, or has owned it for a while, so he should know something about it. If you are planning on having the camera CLA'd, not a bad idea in my mind even though it may cost as much as the purchase, then as long as you get one that is reasonably in good shape you should end up with a good loyal user.

Watch a bunch of good ones on ebay, bid a fair price, and eventually a good sale will take place. There are a ton of Canonet's out there so you can be patient to get a good one.

Good luck.

Oh, and if you haven't been there yet, here is a link to the Popular Photography thread on this topic.


There also is a Yahoo user group you can look up.

03-06-2004, 18:30
Dave this one may go for a little more than the one you posted, but may be worth a look see.


03-09-2004, 09:20
While the thought if scoring a mint QL17 from a thrift store for like $20 sounds very tempting, I don't have a car here at university, and eBay may just be easier.

I'm in the process of watching a few right now.

I notice a lot of cameras need their light seals replaced, and I've also noticed some DIY talk. Is this difficult work? I've never worked on cameras before. I have built car models and the like though.

03-09-2004, 09:54
Hi Dave,
Changing camera light seals is pretty straight forward for the most part. Main thing is cleanliness, don't lose any little bits inside the camera or inevitably they'll turn up in the shutter mechanism. Kits with instructions are good, one of the best is from Jon Goodman who sells on Eb** under the name "interslice". You can also use a foam hobby product available at Walmart called "Foamies" with some success and even old computer mouse pad material if you're adventuresome. By the way, you really don't want any of the QL 17's available right now on Eb**, at least till I'm done bidding. :^)

03-09-2004, 10:11
In the tread from the Pop Photo forum that I attached above there is a recent discussion of the process. It is a very good explaination of how to change the light seals.

03-10-2004, 14:49
the ql17 is an excellent choice for night photography--i just shot a roll last night in fact and admired this camera anew. one thing that does bother me: no depth of field markings. this makes zone focusing difficult and risky.

for that reason, my favorite camera for night photography has to be the yashica lynx 14e. it's one extra stop faster and has DOF markings, which make up for it's drawback: bulk, which is considerable.

but if you find a nice QL17 for under $75, it's almost impossible to be disappointed.

03-23-2004, 07:18
Apparently there are biddingl lulls on e-Bay, such as just before a big holiday period like college spring break.

I found one of them and bought three Canonets in two days at an average price of about $14 each. I found a Canonet QL28 (early model) a Canonet QL17 (early model) and a QL17 New Model (just before the GIII came out). All in cleanable/useable condition.

If anyone is considering one of the Canonets, the difference in size between the earlier ones with the 45mm lens and the later ones with the 40mm lens is quite striking.

The 40mm version is only a little larger and heavier than an Olympus 35RC. The 45mm version is much bigger and closer in size to the Konica Auto S2, Minolta Hi-matic 9 or Yashica Lynx 5000.

There seems to be very little cosmetic difference between the New Model QL17 and the GIII QL17. I think the GIII had only a few features modified, but the New Model sells for a lot less.

Unless you are collecting, you may not want the QL28. It has automatic (programmed?) exposure and no user selectable shutter speeds other than 1/30 sec.