Advice on a second-hand Canonet 17 QL III

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Diapositivo, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Hallo,
    I am seriously considering buying a small RF with fixed lens and central shutter.
    I am presently observing this auction on eBay.

    http://cgi.ebay.it/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=290521694316&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT

    I asked the owner about the precision of the shutter times. He answered that times "within 1/30" were tested and found to be within tolerances. He hasn't got actual results as he did not test the camera personally.

    I am going to use the RF which I am going to buy with slides, using an external lightmetre.

    The camera seems to be clean, and I suppose the viewfinder and rangefinder have been actually brought to best performances.

    The doubt I have is about the shutter. Why did the repairer test only certain times and not others? Is there something I ignore? And what would he mean for "within 1/30"? It's usually slower times or faster times that give more problems?

    Possible answers:
    faster times are always reliable, no need to test them;
    faster times are always unreliable, no need to test them;
    slower times are always reliable, no need to test them;
    slower times are always unreliable, no need to test them;
    this camera is certainly not up to take properly exposed slides;
    this camera is very likely able to take properly exposed slides;
    it's a gamble, you'd rather wait for a camera for which serious tests were performed.

    Thanks for any help
    Fabrizio

    PS Would you pay 70 Euros for this camera? (it's the starting price).
     
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I think for US prices, that would be a bit high, but I don't know about Europe.

    My policy lately has been; if the seller doesn't blow you away with great communication, thorough understanding of what he's selling and the ability to return, it's a no go. In other words, ask him more questions, like what you're asking here, and if he doesn't come back with straight answers, let it go. Search 'Completed Listings' for an idea of prices.
     
  3. domaz

    domaz Member

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    The most important thing for the shutter is that it's working consistently, not accurately. Other things that can go wrong with the Canonet include the Rangefinder (it can be off infinity focus calibration), winding mechanism (doesn't stop at 1 after loading film, doesn't lock the winder after advancing one frame). All old cameras are a gamble, figuring in the cost of a CLA is never a bad idea.
     
  4. blockend

    blockend Member

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    70 euros is high. Expect a camera like this to sell between £25-45 in the UK, a little more for a real peach.
     
  5. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Thanks for your answers. I'll let this item go.
    I have already written twice to the seller, before asking here. Considering he told me in his last answer that he did not service the camera personally, I thought that I would have had better answers here.
    My idea is that this seller buys second-hand cameras, has them repaired/restored/CLA-ed, then resells them, but the lab work is not entirely accurate.

    Second question: how should I expect to pay for a serious CLA on a camera like this? That would mean calibrating the shutter to precise timings.

    Fabrizio

    PS I understand it's not important a lightmeter is "precise", provided it is consistent, because a lightmeter can have a linear mistake. I don't think that a shutter can have the same mistake on all speeds. If it is not precise, it probably has a "random" mistake for each setting. On the other hand, once it is properly serviced, it should have all times within factory specification.
     
  6. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I think it would be cheaper to find a mint Canonet than to get a CLA
     
  7. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    These cameras are old - they all need a CLA, regardless of condition.
     
  8. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    That's a pretty bold generalization; "Regardless of condition", so even if it doesn't need a CLA it needs a CLA? Gems do exist, and they're not as rare as one might expect.
     
  9. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    I suppose I should be more specific - the purpose of a CLA is mostly to check over the internals, replace the light seals and relube everything. Yes, I believe that any camera over 20 years old needs to have this done.

    There are signs that a camera has gone too long without one, such as timings being off or light seals leaking. But, that's kind of like waiting to change your car's oil when the engine won't turn over any more.

    Of course, if you are shooting images that aren't important, you are willing to lose, whatever, then playing around with old unserviced cameras is fine. I've just seen too many people crying over issues that should have been prevented with proper maintenance.
     
  10. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Fair enough; I guess I've just had good luck with my old cameras. But it's true, I'm not doing 'work' with any questionable camera.
     
  11. Jeff Bannow

    Jeff Bannow Member

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    Me too - I've rolled the dice before and had good luck.

    I've also lost all the photos from a 2 week trip, because I "checked out" the camera at home before hand - I ran multiple test rolls, verified speeds were on, etc. on a used RZ67 setup. Unfortunately, the light seals that came out OK at home must have shifted in transit (maybe air pressure related?). Horrible light leaks on every shot.

    Took a trip to Utah last year with friends - I suggested she CLA her Hasselblad (due to my experiences above) but she said the camera "was fine". Broke her mainspring on the first day, and ended up using my backup camera body for the whole 18 day trip.

    I guess I'm a little sensitive about that now! :smile:
     
  12. dmr

    dmr Member

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    I got my "baptism by fire" in camera repair about 5 years ago by repairing a flaky shutter on one of these. I will say that many of them out there have sticky shutters but when they are clean and used consistently they are very good user cameras, very reliable, and give consistently good exposures on both negative and reversal film.

    I have two of them, one as-is repaired, and the other sold to me in great shape. Shutters on both are very close, mostly tested using that "TV screen" method. Of course the proof is consistently well exposed frames. :smile:

    Other than the shutter, the two issues I've dealt with are:

    1. Light seals. The old ones turn to chunks of crud after several years. New seal kits are cheap and easy to install. (Getting the old grungy seals out is the challenge!) :smile:

    2. Batteries. Here in the States we can't get that Bad Bad Bad mercury cell anymore. There are a million work-arounds, some very simple, some very complicated. For one I was able to recalibrate it to use the "wrong" 625 cell and go up to ASA/ISO 1600. For the other I've been using a Wein cell and never touched the calibration.

    Some time ago I was quoted US$75 from a firm in New Jersey for a complete CLA including minor repair. So far I haven't had to take them up on the offer. :smile:
     
  13. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I replace light seals and mirror damper (if appropriate) as a matter of course, then run a test film through at a variety of aperture and shutter settings and process it in a favourite developer. If the negatives are correct and nothing creaks, squeaks or falls off I leave well alone. If there is an error but I like the camera well enough I'll pay for a CLA.