The Canon QL17 Giii also referred to as the Poor Man's leica was a gem hidden at my local shop. They commanded $15 for the dirty box camera and so I mustered up a couple of quarters from the bottom side of my driver side seat and went back in to claim my prize.
I'd always had my eye out for one of these but could never find one that would fit the budget, until now. Initially my first impression on the camera was the size and weight. Never did I think it was gonna have this much mass or feel like it was built well. A quick tour around the camera and I soon realized why everyone loved this thing.
The Canon QL17 Giii even though such a long and funky name actually has meaning to it. "QL" stands for quick loading a feature incorporated by canon to easily load the film in. "17" Refers to the fast 40mm 1.7 lens that everyone seems to say has "leica like" quality. The G stands for an upgraded version of the previous model, and last but not least the "iii" stands for the third and last generation of the canon canonet line of cameras.
Max shutter speed of the camera is 1/500 of a second all the way down to bulb. Aperture opens up from 1.7 down to f16. There is an "A" mode which is actually shutter priority. The camera also features a gift little self timer and focusing goes from as close as 2.6 ft to infinity.
I don't want to get too technical with this review because I'd rather talk about my experience with it. Let's put it at I have a lot to say....
The QL17 Giii was the camera the got me into rangefinders. I was (and still) primarily an SLR lover so in brainwashed by the ability to have total control of focus. Rangefinders to me were hard to adapt to because you have to take the rangefinder patches word for it. Then I learned zone focusing and then I entered a phase where rangefinders were just too, uncontrollable. I didn't see what I was going to get which scared me because I like to take my time to compose and get the best possible shot before I press that shutter button. But with a rangefinder all I get is a ghost image that tells me I'm in focus without actually confirming with my eye.
The QL17 changed that for me because of the rangefinder patch. I realized I didn't like rangefinders because the only other rangefinder I gave a chance was the Olympus XA which is a very capable camera but the rangefinder patch is tiny! With the QL17's bright and big viewfinder it made focusing much more pleasurable and gave me some closure after taking the shot. I no longer felt like I had no control over my camera, instead I felt empowered to create more Images.
The Lens: Initially I doubted the lens. I thought this was just gonna be another one of those cameras that people create hype over. They compared this thing to a Leica, a Leica?! Countless blogs and reviews all gave the lens an A+ and I wanted to get to the bottom of that. So i loaded the Canonet up with a roll of Fuji Superia 400 and hit the streets.
Surprisingly the 40mm 1.7 created beautifully sharp images. Also with color film as you see here the color rendition is amazing!
For Black and white photography the lens has good contrast and can produce some really nice tack sharp images.
Focusing: Focusing was on the easier side with a decently sized rangefinder patch with a large bright viewfinder when it came to pleasurable focusing this was no joke. I did find the placement of the focus knob a little weird. On the bottom left side, tho its easy once you hold on to it, just a little tricky to get used to :)
Conclusion: In conclusion I find the Canon QL17 Giii an excellent camera featuring that sharp 40mm 1.7 lens, amazing build quality and quick loading feature. This is a very capable camera for the everyday street photographer or even if you're a casual photographer who would like to take some nice images. The lens is more than enough to get you quality images and in all honesty this lens is sharper than some of my SLR glass out there. Overall a great all in one camera!
Who's this camera for? - This Camera is for People who love street photography, casual photography and loves a good solid build.
- This camera is NOT for people who don't like rangefinder focusing, or someone who doesn't want sharp images :)
I wanna take the time now for saying thank you for reading to the end. It's a pleasure again to be able to write these blog posts. But unfortunately These blogs don't pay me thousands and so if you support the website or my youtube channel feel free to make a donation, anything counts and will help me create more blogs and videos! I wanna thank you again for your time, and I'll see you in the next one. - Jonathan Paragas