Canonet QL17 Battery Question (with a twist)

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by gnashings, Apr 8, 2005.

  1. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Hi all,

    I am totally new to this website and forum, and completely green as far as rangefinders go. Until recently I didn't really have any need or interest in rangefinders...but...my wife fell in love with a little Canonet at a pawnshop. The camera was in sorry shape and I talked her out of it - but not out of this sudden fascination with rangefinders! Frankly, after playing around with the little camera... I slowly started to understand the "hype"! Now I want one, and the search is on! I have my mind set on a QL17, mainly because I've read good things about it, and because my wife wants "that one!"...

    Sorry about the novel, my question is this:

    QL17 use the cursed PX625, which is apparently more evil than Stalin, Hitler and Osama combined... but I digress. I did a fair bit of research into the camera, and consequently into the battery issue. I am aware of all the alternatives (MR9, Wein, recalibration, etc). What sent me after more info from people with experience with these cameras is this little blurb from www.photoetnography.com . Its an article by Karen Nakamura that basically gives a thorough background on the little Canonet, and includes this blurb:

    "Although it uses the much hated PX625 mercury battery that is no longer available in the U.S., the Canon engineers did the Right Thing™ and made the circuitry voltage compensating. This means you can use a standard alkaline PX625A battery which you can buy at most larger drugstores or a LR/SR44 battery with liberal amounts of tin foil. Yippee."

    Can anyone confirm or deny this little bit of news? I would greatly appreciate your input - thanks in advance!

    Peter.
     
  2. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I recall putting a standard battery in my canonet. It worked, but the meter was off by some amount. I want to say that I had to set the camera for 200 when I used 400 film, but I don't remember the specifics.

    This could actually be an advantage. The camera can only be set as high as 800. With the "wrong" battery, you could use something Delta3200 at 1600 and still meter correctly. Again, check the meter with the battery.

    Use the mercury battery issue to talk the price down at the pawn shop. Also, check the rangefinder, they can be a bit dim (just like me!). If so, talk them down some more, then clean it up yourself.

    Matt
     
  3. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I use a standard PX625A without any problems, mine seems to meter a 1/2 stop high from my Weston Ranger 9 which is my reference meter. (I use Molterla wrist pager batteries in the Weston).
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I can't confirm this bit of information from another source, but I can say that I would trust Karen Nakamura's information implicitly, based on her input on other fora. She is knowledgeable and thorough, and as you can see from her site, knows a fair bit about older cameras.

    Lee
     
  5. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    Canon did install such 'self adjusting' circuitry in some of their cameras including the EF, which to my knowledge is the only one of their FD mount cameras so equipped

    Mark
     
  6. mikepry

    mikepry Subscriber

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  7. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Hey Peter,
    My Canonet is one of my favourite cameras to just haul around. I have tried both mercury and alkaline batteries in mine, and both will work perfectly well. If you can only get alkaline or wein-cells, I would suggest alkaline...They are a lot less expensive and last a good deal longer. Regardless, if you use mercury, alkaline or wein-cell, you will have to calibrate against a good light meter. Even my recently CLA'd Canonet with a mercury battery is 1/3 stop off. The important thing is that it is linear.

    Hope that this helps,
    Kent
     
  8. rjr

    rjr Member

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    An alternative to the Wein cells are zinc/air hearing aid cells - after all the Wein cell is just a modified version of these, coming with less pinholes and an adapter to make up the size.

    A blister of 6 cells costs me 2EUR and each cell is good for 2 - 6 months of usage.

    OTOH - with cameras w/o that bridge circuit you can make use of the exposure latitude of negatives films... wouldn´t mind the minimum exposure shift with a P&S camera.
     
  9. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    WOW! I do thank all of you for your prompt and thorough responses!!!
    I think I hit gold here - this web site seems to be the virtual hide out of all the film and old camera junkies!
    Thanks for all the info, I think I will try a Alk. replacement and see how it goes, perhaps checking it with a modern light meter as a reference (It will be mainly used for B&W print film, so I do have some latitude to play with). I am glad to hear that my choice of first rangefinder seems to be well supported by so many of you. I am also glad that Ms Nakamura's writing is as good factually as it is to read - I will keep an eye out for her name, a really, really good read!
    And yes, I did go to the Kyle Cassidy page... and my sides still hurt. My wife and I sat there and read everything on his site, laughing our posteriors off well into the wee hours of the morning! The Leica story with Hemingway in it is especially priceless!!!

    Thanks again,

    Peter.
     
  10. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    I too use the Zinc Air batteries in my QL-17. I can't find a package right now and everytime I need to replace them I have to find them because the salespeople say they don't carry them (of course they are there).

    They are a bit more expensive than the 625A batteries but they last me for a year or more, so...
     
  11. haris

    haris Guest

  12. jmdavis

    jmdavis Member

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    I've modified my Minoltas but that was before I knew about the less expensive Zinc Air batteries to replace the 625. It's not a hard mod, but you have to follow the instructions and understand how to use a multi-meter.

    As for the adapter, at 29.95 it would take several (~10) years for me to make up the price as compared to the difference between the Zinc Air and the normal 625A at my use of 1 battery per year.

    Mike
     
  13. Max Power

    Max Power Member

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    Peter,
    To follow up my comments from yesterday, and to second what Mike said, after having my own Canonet QL17 GIII for a year or so, even with proper mercury batteries, and a fully functioning linear meter, I've found the meter easier than most to 'fool' in some situations. In other words, don't get too worked up about trying to find the ideal battery or adapter to make the meter work. To be quite honest, knowing how the meter in the Canonet is easily fooled, I usually go fully manual with the camera using 'sunny-16'. Believe it or not, sunny-16 is usually more reliable than the meter, especially in odd situations! Other times I do use the meter, but take a reading off of a small grey-card or the palm of my hand just to be sure.

    So, that said, IMHO just go out and get an alkaline battery, then 'calibrate' the Canonet's meter against a reliable hand-held meter...It's about as good as it's gonna get!!!

    The meter, though, is about the only weak spot on this camera. The QL is about the best thing ever, the lens is fast and sharp, the patch is really bright and for $10 you ought to be able to find a Canolite D to go with it which works surprisingly well. They are brilliant little cameras. Mine is always getting use.

    Cheers,
    Kent
     
  14. Tach

    Tach Member

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    I bought a silver cell for mine. I have to adjust the film speed (it's about 1 2/3 stops off, IIRC) when I change ASAs; I do this against a trusted lightmeter.

    I like this better than a Wein cell because I shoot at 1600 much more often than at 25/50. Silver cells share the sharp cutoff characteristic of the mercury cells.
     
  15. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    JMdavis:

    Thank you for chiming in on the longevity of those ZA cells - I was wondering how that looked in real life conditions - I doubt that my QL will get more than moderate use - it has to get in line... hehehehe :smile:

    MaxPower

    Thanks for the input - I suspected that the meter will be less than pro grade, so its good to have that confirmed. I doubt it will be used for photography involving much metering - it will be more of "shoot from the hip" camera, so that works just fine for me. And you are right about the price - my QL with flash (the D model), case, strap and owners manual is on the way home, auction ended 2 hours ago! I also found the way it synchs up with the flash at all speeds to be very cool! Thanks for all the info, I will be sure to share my impressions as soon as the mail man drops the package of! I might get one of those Zinc Airs... really because I think its a neat technology, but after that it might get whatever will fit:smile:.

    I am looking forward to my first rf, that is if the wife ever lets me use it :smile:

    PS. please elaborate on sunny-16 - I am not sure I am familiar with the term.
     
  16. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    He's a hilarious guy, isn't he? And an old school VAX geek to boot.

    too bad he went all-digital. =(

    Somewhere on his site is his Leica H page. That also is worth the time digging for. It inspired me to turn my Nikon D70 (my newspaper work is digital-only :sad:) into a Holga D70.
     
  17. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    See here or here for an explanation.

    (I am too lazy to type ... :wink:)
     
  18. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Thanks for the replies - I learn something new every day! I was familiar with something along the lines of "sunny16" but never new there was a neat little "system" to help guide a budding photog along! Great!

    Yeah, its a shame that Mr. Cassidy went all digital - I really liked his take on taking photos and the snobism associated with some parts of our hobby!

    And thank you for the links!