Is a canonet a decent introduction to rangefinders?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by BetterSense, May 20, 2010.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have this thing where I think I need to experience the rangefinder way of working, and I particularly want a Bessa R3 because of the 1:1 viewfinder. However the entry price for a Bessa or used Leica is a thousand dollars or more and that's a lot to me. I was thinking I could get a Canonet for much less money and try that for a while, and if I really liked it, spring for the Bessa or Leica. Suppose I got a Canonet QL19 or QL17, do you think this would serve as a good taste of rangefinders or would it just spoil me on the type of camera, and I really need to experience the higher quality cameras like Leica etc. to know what they are all about?
     
  2. BobD

    BobD Member

    Messages:
    444
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Location:
    California,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sure.

    I see no reason it would spoil anything. Everyone has their preferences and
    some people even prefer other cameras to Leicas, etc.
     
  3. karthik

    karthik Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    A Canonet would definitely give you a feel for working with a rangefinder. I presume you are used to a SLR (or something else?). I recently started with a Minolta 7s and like the following features very much:


    • Lightweight, small (fits easily into the outer flap of a backpack)

    • Full manual control, no batteries

    • Not too hard to focus

    • Quiet
    If any of these are of concern to you, a Canonet would be suitable.
     
  4. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

    Messages:
    543
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Location:
    Bothell, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I have a Canonet QL 17 GIII. Love it. It was the first rangefinder I picked up and is still my go-to rangefinder. I've since experimented with a bunch of other fixed lens ones and it is my favorite so far as manual ones go.

    My automatic favorite is an Olympus 35 DC, though my opinion may be biased as it is the first camera I successfully repaired. I love the lens on it though.
     
  5. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

    Messages:
    543
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Location:
    Bothell, WA
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    Note that there is a significant size difference between the original Canonet 17 and the Canonet 17 GIII. If compactness matters to you, be sure you know which one you are picking up.
     
  6. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I prefer full manual operation. I use an SLR camera now, but I've been wanting a rangefinder for snapping pictures of the kids; I find it hard to focus the SLR fast sometimes.
     
  7. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

    Messages:
    357
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Orcas Island
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The Canon QL17 is a great little rangefinder, has full manual option and quite affordable.
     
  8. denmark.yuzon

    denmark.yuzon Member

    Messages:
    116
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    San Pedro, L
    Shooter:
    35mm
    My first rangefinder is a Konica Auto S2... Not so compact if you compare it to a Canonet QL17 GIII.. its monstrous in size.. But, man, the hexanon lens is amazing.. I was so hooked to it I bought another one.. So i have two.. one for color, one for black and white.. talk about a back up camera.. LOL..

    But yeah, a canonet is a good start to get into RF photography.. dont forget the Olympus 35 SP.. that is one sick RF too..
     
  9. pollux

    pollux Member

    Messages:
    165
    Joined:
    May 19, 2009
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    as you're in texas, why not get the texas leica (fuji). it's got no meter though.
     
  10. d.sge

    d.sge Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    May 1, 2009
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Shooter:
    35mm
    That's essentially the route I went. Though I have no experience with Canonets and their viewfinders, the Yashica Lynx's VF I started with only served to wet my appetite further for a brighter, contrast-ier one. It proved to be very small taste. So I settled on an R3M and the Yashica has since been relegated to torrential downpours and blizzards. In other words, I rarely use it. In hindsight I'd rather have had the $50 I spent go to the VC kit I eventually selected.

    That said, I'm looking to sell my R3M. While the 1:1: VF is fun, and is what drew me to the camera initially, I'd rather forgo the 1:1 and have plenty of space around the 40mm framelines inside the VF to anticipate and compose my shot. I find the 75mm framelines ideal for that particular camera. The 90mm ones are pretty good, too.

    In general, getting from the MFD to infinity and back is going to be faster for all manual focus rf lenses as compared to slr lenses thanks to a shorter focus throw. I've also found focusing to be much easier with an rf in low light as well, but only if the rf patch is nice and bright.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2010
  11. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,727
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    [Suppose I got a Canonet....... QL17, do you think this would serve as a good taste of rangefinders .....[/QUOTE]

    *************
    Yes.
     
  12. domaz

    domaz Member

    Messages:
    560
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    Tacoma, WA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You can find Canonet cheap if you are patient and look around your neighborhood (i.e. estate sales, garage sales). Not much too lose and they are great cameras. I found one the other day and thought I would just sell it to the Rangefinder lovers, but I must admit it's hard to let go off..
     
  13. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2005
    Location:
    Kansas City,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I bought a Canonet QL17 (not GIII) as my tiptoe into rangefinders. I loved that way of working, but soon got tired of the viewfinder, which is a great one as far as fixed-lens RF's go, but miles behind a Bessa series camera or a Leica. I settled on a Bessa R2A and now have an R3A. I still have and use the Canonet five years later and added a second one, though I never use it.

    I hope you enjoy rangefinders! If they fit your way of seeing and shooting, they can be a great experience!
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. lns

    lns Member

    Messages:
    434
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am not sure that a rangefinder really has any advantage over an SLR for snapping pictures of kids. I think it would be better to buy an autofocus camera. The speed advantage of the rangefinder, in my experience, is being able to preset focus and use hyper focal technique, and also having the whole viewfinder appear in focus as you look though it. But those aren't really advantages with most pictures of kids. I say this as a mother of three and also an occasional kids portrait photographer.

    Nothing against the Canonet. It's a fun camera. I used one years ago. And I love rangefinders. But SLRs are great for pictures of kids. They tend to have better flash options, too.

    -Laura
     
  16. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I can't find an autofocus camera that is small enough for me. The pentaxen are close, but they are hardly battery-independent.
     
  17. Pumal

    Pumal Member

    Messages:
    580
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Another one fun to use is a Canonet 28. It's an underrated camera. It turned out better than they expected. You can use it in aperture priority as long as you remember that speed will be a constant 1/60
     
  18. canonman

    canonman Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Location:
    middle of Ge
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    The canonet G-III QL 1,7 which I bought here from Sandy King has been my first rangefinder. I had been shooting with a TLR and a SLR before. I now also got a Leica and a Konica Hexar RF which are great cameras, but I still use the canonet because of its size - its my camera which always sits in my daypack somewhere. The canonet is not only a great choice to get addicted to the RF world, but also a great companion when you want to get an additional Leica. The canonet makes sharp pictures - if you need the automatic functions be sure that the meter works. I had different canonets and all of them needed a CLA of the shutter at some point, but some 80 USD or so to get it done is well spent money. Go for it, you shouldn't regret it!
     
  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,416
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When you find one of these at the garage sale it probably won't trip or advance.
    THE BATTERY is most likely dead or missing.
    Turn the aperture ring OFF the A setting. At that point everything is manual.
     
  20. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

    Messages:
    467
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2004
    Location:
    Arlington, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Good luck finding a battery-independent AF camera! Not sure why it's so important to you - my experience with batteries has been good; they're cheap and reliable. Yes, they do wear out, but it's easy to carry a few spares.
     
  21. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I got a QL17 GIII. It's pretty cool, except I think the shutter is running a bit slow. The couple things I noticed are that it is smaller and lighter than my OM2, the shutter is running a bit slow and it doesn't focus very close. Also, the shutter and aperture adjustments are too fiddly to operate without looking. There is no DOF scale, and finally, I haven't figured out how to turn it off. I've been leaving it on manual mode hoping that the meter is disengaged that way.
     
  22. fdisk

    fdisk Member

    Messages:
    8
    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    love it

    I really like mine, best $30 I ever spent. and its bang on for velvia 50 slides. lens is nice and sharp, the yahica mg-1 is great too maybe even cheaper. but if I got another rangefinder it would be a mamiya 6
     
  23. fdisk

    fdisk Member

    Messages:
    8
    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm
    its the Canonet QL 17 GIII
     
  24. canonman

    canonman Member

    Messages:
    37
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Location:
    middle of Ge
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You turn it off with the lens cap!
     
  25. panchro-press

    panchro-press Member

    Messages:
    122
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Cleveland
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    A working FED II or III may be worth looking into.

    -30-
     
  26. Steve Mack

    Steve Mack Member

    Messages:
    142
    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Location:
    Dillwyn, Vir
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Buy a used Leica. With a lens. Try it. If you don't like the camera, you can probably sell it for just about what you paid for it. That way, you won't find yourself buying about 4-5 other brands before you decide that what you really wanted was a Leica rangefinder, after all.

    Don't ask me how I know this.:D

    With best regards.

    Stephen