Cameras I own: Canon Canonet QL 17

One of the first things that visitors to our apartment notice when they walk in to our lounge room is our camera collection on top of a bookshelf. There are 10 cameras up there: 9 of mine and one of Kate’s (a cute plastic Holga). There was a time when I actually used them all, or, at least, they have all seen a fair amount of use over the years. The 10 cameras aren’t even all of our cameras, the ones we still use tend to float around the house. I guess you could call it more of a ‘museum’ than a collection.

Somewhere in Tokyo, 2004

The Canonet is my ‘oldest’ camera up on that shelf (in terms of use, not vintage). It wasn’t my first rangefinder, but it’s the oldest rangefinder that I still have. My first was a lovely Ricoh 500G that I picked up at a second hand store when my very first film camera (a Pentax MZ50) was stolen. The Ricoh lasted well until I dropped it while moving house and snapped the lens clean off, and I found the Canonet on ebay to serve as its replacement. The Canonet became a faithful companion on my first overseas trip to Japan. I don’t think I’ve used it for at least 5 years: I opened up the back before I drew this picture and was surprised to see a half-used roll of film in there (now partially exposed to the light). I’ve no idea what’s on it.

SJ in Melbourne

The light-meter died within about a month of use and I took to setting the aperture wide-open (1:1.7 – it was fast too!) and guessing the shutter speed. This technique was hit and miss, but when I got it right, man this camera could nail the shot. The 40mm glass lens was a wonder to behold.

While obviously based on the design of the Lieca M3, the smaller, cuter dimensions and the angled rangefinder window gave this camera a look which has pretty much defined ‘camera’ in my mind for all of my life: it really is the classic camera design.