Well this little camera just looks the business, a no-nonsense camera, which just oozes vintage style. For me, who grew up in the 60s and 70s modern camera no matter how good the quality of the image just feel like cheap, plastic rubbish. If - God willing - film is still around in years you can still create document the world with a rangefinder camera. In recent years it has attracted a cult following, and has received glowing reviews from litany of rangefinder enthusiasts such as The Mijonju Show, Steve Huff, Chase Jarvis and of course Bellamy Hunt, the Japan Camera Hunter who owns multiple black models. There are two variants of the camera, one produced in Taiwan, and the other produced in Japan.
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It is very well built and produces sharp contrasty negatives. Confusingly there were several quite different models of the Canonet QL19 produced by Canon. The first was introduced in It had a large body measuring mm wide and a selenium meter photocell which was mounted on the front of the lens.
Another unusual feature of this first Canonet was that the film advance lever and rewind knob were both located on the bottom of the camera leaving the top plate for just the shutter release and flash mount. This arrangement gave this early model a very clean and simple appearance from above. The film advance lever and film rewind knob were moved to their more typical positions on top of the body. Then in Canon released yet another Canon Canonet QL19 model shown in this article, photographs and video.
This camera was much smaller in overall size at mm in length and weighing g. It has the 45mm f 1. According to the manual, the lens is Spectra coated in amber, purple and magenta. I admit I cannot see any of those colours myself. This small QL19 was only in production for less than a year before it was replaced by the later GIII 19 the following year. There were also other Canonet models available with both higher and lower specs.
There was the faster QL17 with its 40mm f1. This is the one which sells for the most money on the online auction websites! However, with all of these Canonets, you would be hard-pressed to see any real noticeable difference in picture quality.
I picked this one up quite cheaply from the New Zealand online auction site TradeMe. It is in near mint condition and appears to have hardly been used. The camera has both shutter priority autoexposure and manual mode.
Though strangely the meter only works in auto. This means you need only turn the aperture ring to any position other than the red letter A in order to turn off the light meter. The camera will still operate perfectly in manual mode without a battery. The photographs it takes are always well exposed and contrasty. The meter appears to be very accurate for a year-old camera. I use readily available LR44W 1. The correct battery recommended in the manual is a 1. This is the same as a Mallory PX These mercury batteries are no longer available.
The LR44W alkaline cells I use seem to work fine even though the voltage output is different to mercury cells as they discharge. F stops run from f1. There are also three additional engraved numbers highlighted in blue paint on the aperture ring.
These are flash guide numbers. Set the number on this ring to match your electronic automatic flash. When using electronic flash any shutter speed can be used. Canon also produced a dedicated flash for use with the new Canonets.
It was called the Canonlite D. This is what the extra contact on the hot shoe is for. When mounted on the hot shoe there is no need to worry about guide numbers. When the aperture ring is set to A the proper f-stop relative to distance is automatically set for you.
You sometimes see the Canonlite D come up on online auction sites. Certainly worth getting if you are a fan of this camera. The earlier and larger Canonets have even bigger and brighter viewfinders simply because these cameras are so much larger.
Looking through the viewfinder this camera has large bright yellow lines that frame the shot and move as you adjust the focus so you can keep the subject in the frame. This feature is called parallax compensation. The centre focusing spot is large and very bright which makes accurate focusing quick and easy.
Some of these old rangefinders are not so good in this regard. An old trick you can use to increase the contrast of the spot is to place a corresponding mark with a black felt pen on the outside of the rangefinder glass.
The large bright viewfinder with this camera makes picture taking a very pleasant experience. The aperture scale is shown in yellow with black numbers on the left of the screen. A needle rises and falls to indicate the aperture chosen by the camera. There is a red zone at the top and bottom of the scale. A fail-safe system the works perfectly. From there you can calculate an aperture and shutter setting combinations to suit your subject.
These Canonets feature a rather complex mechanical quick loading system for inserting your 35mm film. The system uses a lot of parts which must have added to the cost of manufacture. Then half close the door to lock the film in place. There is no need to insert the tag end into any slots. The QL system works flawlessly. Though it does appear to use a lot of metal parts and be quite complicated for such a simple task, it is nonetheless beautifully made and works very well.
I just love it! The range of film speed settings, which are adjusted by pressing a metal button on the lens, are shown as 25, 50, , , and There is a self-timer which is also located on the lens barrel. I timed mine and it runs for 9 seconds. There is a little window on the back of the camera called the film advance indicator. The red and white lines flicker as you advance the film. You can also tell if the film is advancing by watching to see if the film take-up spool knob is turning as you advance the film with the cocking lever.
This is black and made from leather and plastic. I like it because it is not so large and bulky. The QL17 has a battery tester button and light on the back, together with a slightly faster 6 element lens.
Otherwise, they are the same camera. I doubt you would be able to tell the difference between the photographs taken with these two models. I have run quite a few films with this camera. It always delivers sharp well-exposed photographs. In those days, if photographing an event, or travelling and fishing, I would shoot as many as six rolls in a day through my Nikon Nowadays I usually have several old film cameras with film in them on the go at once.
It may be days, weeks, or in some cases even months before I have the film developed. Getting the film back from the shop is always exciting as you look back over a series of shots taken some time ago. Often I can forget what was on a particular roll of film which adds to the anticipation when it is developed. Sadly that feeling has been lost in the digital age now that we get to see the picture on the back of our camera almost the instant it is taken.
A good tip is to stick a short length of masking tape to the back of your camera on which you have written the details of the type of film including how many frames 24 or 36, ASA speed, and the date you loaded it. Then when you remove the film from the camera at the end of the roll you can tear the tape off the camera.
I have lost count of how many times I have picked up an old film camera and started winding on and firing the shutter only to be struck with that sinking feeling you get when the film rewind crank starts to turn as you wind on. Worse still is picking up a camera to put a new film in it only to discover there is already one in it halfway through the roll. With the film being more expensive to use than digital I am more inclined to take my time and think about each shot before pressing the shutter release.
All in all, it is a more leisurely way of taking photographs which I find very enjoyable. The Canon Canonet QL19 used here is one of my favourite old 35mm film rangefinder cameras. There is some very interesting information here at the Canon Camera Museum on the Canon Canonet range of film cameras.
Canon Canonet QL19 “New” (1971) Excellent f1.9 45mm Canon lens
The Basic Issues ALL of the 60ss rangefinders, not just Canonets, seem to have the following issues in common: deteriorated foam light seals gummy, sticky, messy and cloudy rangefinder glass. To get inside, though, requires taking off the top cap — the metal shroud that houses the rangefinder. First remove any visible screws, sometimes there are three or four, sometimes as few as one or two. The rewind knob is almost invariably removed by opening the back, placing a bar of some sort screwdriver, tweezers in the fork that enters the film canister, and winding the knob counterclockwise to unscrew it. A little extra pressure is required to get it started. The wind lever is almost always held in by a top cap removed by a spanner in two holes or by gripping the outside and twisting counterclockwise. On the QL19 there is also a second retaining ring that twists off similarly.
Weight: g? The top plate only houses the shutter-release, with a locking ring for time-exposures, the frame counter and an accessory shoe. The clean lines of the top are achieved by putting the advance lever underneath, together with the rewind crank, rewind release and back catch. The advance lever had an end which hinged downwards, making it easy to operate using the left middle- or third-finger.