Canon Canonet QL17

Canonet QL17

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The Canonet QL17 (new) represents the prized and popular side of the sought-after compact rangefinders; to be sure, its 1972 successor, the oft-touted GIII version is often mentioned in the same breath as the Konica S3, Minolta 7sII, Olympus 35SP, and the Rollei 35*. Most frequently compared to the Leica CL. It’s not the first camera I’ve heard called the ‘poor man’s Leica’ and I’m sure it won’t be the last. You don’t hear about this, the vanilla New QL17 very often, or its lesser brother the QL28 (with a 2.8 lens). Personally, though I think it’s a fun shooter, particularly for street candids (man is it quiet!) it’s not nearly as good a picture-taker as the ‘forgotten’ Yashica Electro 35, which you can pick up for a fraction of the price.

But wait, you say, what happened to your GIII? Well, it was unrepairable and I sold it for parts. This one on the other hand was actually a gift from a friend who collects as voraciously as I once did (that would be Bill of “Bill’s Big Haul“) He picked it up at a garage sale for $4 in need of some TLC, which I gave it and after he found a GIII with a filter and a Canonlite D for $25 at a thrift store passed the vanilla QL17 along to me.

Canonet QL17G3


Lens housing was loose. Turned out to be the result of a poor amateur repair, someone had been inside the lens barrel before (to clean the blades, maybe? Probably.) The person used – get this – PINK nail polish to hold the screws! Oy! Needless to say, it didn’t hold and the screws came loose. I cleaned the area with nail polish remover, tightened the screws, and cemented the heads in place with CLEAR nail polish. Yes, part of my tool kit looks more like a makeup kit, with the nail polish & remover, cold cream and emery boards. No comment =P

THEN there were the light seals, the *other* Canonet problem, scrape and clean, then replace with strips of cut ‘foamies’ which is 2mm-thick closed-cell foam you can get at a craft store for less than $1 for an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet. Back closes slightly tightly but it’s fine.

Tips & Tricks

Nice touches like a battery check light, film movement indicator, and of course the full manual option. The QL film loading is a pleasure, just close the back and start winding on with the leader in place, a little barber-pole film movement window shows that it’s on its way.

Being a compact rangefinder, and being a Canonet, likely as not you will need to deal with light seal replacement and stuck shutter blades with this one. See the repair tips page and the Canonet addendum.

Replacements for obsolete batteries such as the once-common PX625 (this one), PX675, and the PX640 can be got at Or try Radio Shack, they have the Alkaline version of a 625 (though it’s 1.5v not 1.35v meaning you’ll have to halve the ASA to compensate) for $2.79.

*I’ve repaired and played with a Rollei 35 – they’re cute all right, but give me an XA2 any day over that complicated little overpriced treasure.

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