Another Canonet QL17 question: Batteries

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by srs5694, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    My mother used to have a Canonet GIII QL17, and I've decided to buy a couple for sentimental reasons more than anything else -- one for me and one for my sister (who's currently without any cameras). Anyhow, in doing a bit of Web research, I've found that these cameras were designed for the 1.35v mercury cells that are no longer available in the US, and I'm wondering what others have found to be good replacements. Are 1.5v silver oxide or alkaline cells good enough, or do they result in too much exposure error? (I expect that both I and my sister will shoot mainly print films, not slides.) If the error for using, say, a 1.5v silver battery is predictable, how much should the ASA speed be adjusted to compensate? (I gather alkaline cells' voltage varies over their lifetime.) Is it worth the extra cost for a WeinCell battery? The MR-9 adapter looks interesting, but is hideously expensive (it costs more than a used Canonet on eBay). Thanks for any tips.
     
  2. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I use 1.5v batteries and set the film speed about 2/3 of a stop slower than the actual speed. I got that figure by calibrating against another light meter. The difference does not seem to be absolutely linear, but it's near enough, especially if you only use neg film. There seem to be slight differences between cameras so it would be worth repeating the process yourself.

    David.
     
  3. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I found roughly the same 2/3-1 stop difference when I did this with a Canonet. Right now I have an evil battery that works correclty, so I can't check.

    I have heard of people using smaller 1.35V batteries and shimming the battery compartment with foil.

    Matt
     
  4. bohica

    bohica Member

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    There are several approaches to this, 1.5 silver batteries with setting the asa about 1 stop off, wein cells, air zinc hearing aid batteries with a rubber "O" ring around them.
    the difference between the hearing aid batteries ( about $1.00US} and the wein cells is that they make a larger case for the battery so you don't need the "O" ring and they seal up part of the holes in the back that let air in and activate the battery. I'v heard of people using clear nail polish to do the same thing to the air-zincs. what this does is basically double the use time frommabout 2 months to 4
     
  5. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Air zinc batteries are my choice - I tried the Wein's, will do the hearng aid batts next time around. I find that they last a reasonably long time - mind you the QL is not my main camera and does not get a hell of a work out. That said, the air zincs degrade through exposure to air, so usage is not of paramount importance. The almost air-tight batt compartment of the QL seems to keep drainage to a minimum.
    I find that the camera works fine for most things (metering-wise) but I find the meter to be a bit of a guideline more than an accurate measuring device. I really only use it to put me in the ball park and go with my gut on final settings - so I would not lose any sleep over the .15v one way or another. That said, under simple conditions, it works fine in auto mode - just dont expect it to work miracles in back light or deep shadows, etc.
    To me, the minor haggles are well worth it for what I think is the best 35mm RF you can buy as far as bang for your buck is concerned.

    One more thing - there is a website called photoethnography.com which has a very nice little write up on the QL17 by a lady named Karen Nakamura. I am not familiar with her level of expertise personally, but when I asked several people (including a few on this forum) gave her an absolute and unwaivering vote of confidence. The reason I mention this is, she claims the QL17 GIII (the last model) has voltage-compensating circuitry. I decided to play it safe with the zinc-air, but would love to get a definite yes or no on this for future consideration.

    Or, you could always get a Canonet 19 with the photocell ring around the lens and not worry about batteries :smile: Jokes aside, I have one and love it - but it is no substitute, nor is it really the same type of camera, as the QL17.
     
  6. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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  7. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    If you have a Wein, save the washer from it. You can just knock it off with a little persuasion working around it. Push it off in the "negative" direction. That will fit the hearing aid 675 air-zinc batteries and convert them for use in the same way. The center hole is a bit tapered on mine, so be sure you reinstall it so that the wider side of the tapered hole is on the positive side.

    If you don't need side contact with the battery rim, use a thin slice of 1/2 inch PVC to center the battery in the compartment. I do that on my Canonet. My wife uses the CRIS adapter in her camera with good results so far. You can also use an O-ring as mentioned here with a hearing aid 675 air-zinc.

    I've never known Karen Nakamura to give poor advice, and would be very surprised if her information about the compensated circuitry on later models was not correct. She used to work for a division of Canon as an intern. I don't think it was the photography division, though.

    I can't speak for the accuracy of the built-in meter on my Canonet QL-1.7 with the hearing aid batteries, as I've been using a Gossen Digiflash in incident mode lately for determining exposures. I really like it a lot.

    Lee
     
  8. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    First, thanks to all for your advice! I suspect I'll settle on silver-oxide batteries and set the ASA speed a bit low. That could even be handy, if the error approaches a full stop, since it might let me use ISO 1600 film if I wanted to, dialed in as ASA 800. (Mostly I use ISO 50-400 films, though.)

    One point....

    Thanks for the pointer. I just checked that site, and unless the claim is made somewhere other than on the Canon GIII QL17 review page, that's not what she said. That page includes the claim:

    In other words, you won't fry the electronics by using a 1.5v battery, and print film's got enough exposure latitude that your prints will still be printable given a small error.
     
  9. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    OK - I feel silly now - I swear that QL17 review looked different when I looked at it first... and made a claim of Canon "doing the right thing" (and I do quote) regarding the mercury cells and provided the advice on the circuit being present...
    Now... I have not looked at the page since I initially bought the QL... so the only possibility is that I imagined the whole thing, or that in light of new info the page was corrected.
    The thing that really throws me is that I actually asked on these very pages how reliable Karen's info was due to that claim - and was given glowing reviews of her competence....
    Having nothing to go on other than my sincere conviction that this was what I read and the photoethnography page is where I read it... I have to conced a mistake and apologize for any misleading advice that I may have inadvertantly given...
     
  10. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    There are multiple Canonet links off Karen's page. Could you have read it looking at one of those?

    Lee
     
  11. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    Gnashings, a change to the page is certainly possible, as is your having read it elsewhere and gotten confused about where you read it. In either case, I didn't mean to criticise or attack you, just post corrected information.

    The best way to clear up any confusion, of course, would be for somebody with one of these cameras to buy both a 1.5v and a 1.35v battery and try them both under controlled conditions. If they produce the same exposure readings, then presumably the camera has correcting circuits; if not, then it doesn't. Of course, it's also possible that Canon introduced such circuitry without any fanfare at some point in the camera's production life, so some samples might have it while others might not.
     
  12. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Oh no - I did not take it as an attack by any means! I just feel really bad about potentially misleading people with what I held as fact...
    Funny story - I fell asleep at the computer last night trying to locate this ghost claim... I just hope I am not going crazy in my old age :smile: I feel like I am in some low budged horror movie or psycho drama: "NO! I swear, I SAW it right there... you have to believe me! I AM NOT CRAZY!!! It was there..."
    And on to rambling incoherently...hehehheehee.
    Well, for what its worth - the claim about circuitry was but one, and in light of all the other advice and comments on the various links and pages, I decided to go with an air-zinc cell. The overwhelming consensus seems to be that your meter will be off iwth 1.5 volts.

    By the way - mgb74 - thanks for the link for the adaptor, I think it may be a fun project!
     
  13. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    If you disappear in the third act, we'll know to be on the lookout for a rogue voltage-correcting circuit! :wink:
     
  14. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    My evil plan all along, muahahahahahaha! I will strike at random, correcting voltages of unsuspecting cameras!!! :smile:
     
  15. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    If you are willing to do a bit of surgery on the cameras you can install a Germanium 1N34A diode in series with the battery to drop the voltage of a silver oxide cell down to the proper voltage. There are several articles on the net with illustrations on how to do this. I think this is the best solution as it is a permanent one.
     
  16. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, I found this PDF describing adding a 1N34A diode to Olympus OM1 cameras. I didn't find directions any specifically for the Canonet series, but I'm sure the principles would be the same.
     
  17. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Once you get the base plate of the camera removed you need only find an out-of-the-way place to stick the diode and determine that the polarity is correct. Make sure that the diode's leads are insulated so they can't short to the frame.
     
  18. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Again, I find the OMs work fine with modern batteries with a slight change to the ASA/ISO setting. Surgery (even minor) seems a bit dramatic.

    David.
     
  19. derevaun

    derevaun Member

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    I've got a GIII Ql17 coming to me in the mail. It'll share a shelf with my Yashica GSN; Karen Nakamura writes that the GSN has compensation circuitry and accepts 1.5v with no problems. That may be an element of the source of confusion, but in any case I'm looking forward to using the Canonet. Cheers!
     
  20. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I'd go for the MR-9 adapter. It may be expensive but its a one off purchase after which you can buy cheap LR44 batteries. My QL17 GIII is due back in the next week or so after a CLA, and I will be ordering the MR-9 from The Small Battery Company here in Britain.
     
  21. Glenn Mathison

    Glenn Mathison Member

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    You are not going mad ...

    I recall reading that specific piece of info on Karens site when I picked up my first QL17 GIII. I use a 1.5v battery and have had no issues with metering, although I usually run only B&W film through it. The meter compares within 1/2 stop of a friends Leica M6 so it's close enough for me.

    Glenn
     
  22. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    FWIW, I've received my Canonet (two of them, actually -- one for me and one for my sister). Comparing their meters to what my other cameras' meters get, I found that I got the best agreement when setting the meter to 2/3 - 1 stop lower speed (ASA 100 or 125 with 200 film, for instance). This was with a 1.5v silver oxide battery. It seems simplest to just under-rate the film. Losing the ability to meter properly for Efke KB25 isn't that big of a deal to me, and gaining the ability to meter for ISO 1600 films could be useful.
     
  23. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Great! Enjoy them - my wife and I sure enjoy ours! Also - glad to hear that I was not alone in my "voltage compensating" hallucination! :smile:
     
  24. dmr

    dmr Member

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    I can give you some real-world feedback. I use that "wrong" battery in my GIII and have no trouble with it, if you are of the mindset that the meter is offering a suggestion on exposure and not a mandate. :smile:

    In my highly-accurate laboratory grade test light box (the blank bathroom wall with the lights on dimmer) the QL17 GIII agrees exactly with the lab standard (a Pentax K1000 which consistently gives good exposures). :smile:

    In outside sunny-16 conditions, the GIII inidcates a slight overexposure, maybe 1/2 stop, compared to the Pentax.

    I consider both of these tests to be well within the ballpark, and the real-world test, shooting slides, confirms it. On a recent roll of Kodachrome 64 I bracketed a few shots I wanted to be sure I got right, and the middle ones were consistently the best exposed. This is my experience on this subject anyway. :smile:
     
  25. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Exactly what I always thought of the little GIII's light meter - and with the same results as dmr - good to hear it confirmed (and I use a wein cell! but still think of the meter in these terms)

    Hehehehehehe - thaks for that - I needed the laugh, its so true - I have a similar "lab" set up and have crushed many an industry myth in its hight-tech confines:smile: