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..
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!
"Technology is a big destroyer of emotion and truth. Opportunity doesn't do anything for creativity. Yeah, it makes it easier and you can get home sooner, but it doesn't make you a more creative person. That's the disease you have to fight in any creative field.. ease of use." - Jack White
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
I can't find an autofocus camera that is small enough for me. The pentaxen are close, but they are hardly battery-independent.
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.
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.