Canon Canonet QL 17 GIII

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The Canonet QL 17 GIII is the final, high-end version of Canon's famous Canonet compact rangefinder series of the 60s and 70s. It provides shutter-priority auto-exposure and parallax compensation with its 40mm f/1.7 lens. The lens is sharpest at f/4 - f/5.6 [1]. Its Copal leaf shutter offers shutter speeds from 1/4 to 1/500, with X flash sync at any speed.


Metering and automation

The meter uses a CdS cell mounted on the lens, just above the front element. It offers shutter-priority autoexposure, or unmetered manual mode. In shutter-priority mode, the automatically selected aperture is indicated in the viewfinder by a needle over an aperture scale. There's a small fresnel lens in front of the CdS cell. When selecting a different shutter speed, you can see a ring with a series of perforations moving in front of the metering cell. This way, a faster speed gives less light on the cell. A simple, mechanical solution. Since the metering unit is placed within the filter thread, it compensates automatically for filters. Very handy.

It was designed to use the PX625 mercury battery, no longer available in the US. The circuitry in the camera holds up well against slightly higher voltages, so you can use a PX625A alkaline battery as a drop-in replacement, but you will find your exposures tend to be slightly off. Only the autoexposure system requires a battery, however. The mechanical shutter functions perfectly under manual settings with no battery whatsoever. Therefore, if you own a handheld light meter, you can use this camera without a battery.


A dedicated flash unit was sold with this Canonet. Since it has a hotshoe, no extra cables are required. However if you want to use another type of flash, there is a flash contact hidden beneath plastic cover on the left of the body, near the carrying eyes.


The QL 17 GIII is about 2/3 the weight of a Leica M6 with a similar lens, and is much quieter, making it an excellent alternative to higher-priced rangefinder cameras. They existed in chrome or in black. They can often be found on eBay for as little as $30, and with over a million of the cameras sold, they are fairly common at flea markets and garage sales as well.

The camera only supports a maximum film speed of 800 ASA.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Rangefinder camera
  • Manufacturer: Canon Inc. Japan
  • Lens: Canon Lens 40mm f/1.7. 6-element 4-group construction, with four newly designed glasses. Spectra coated in amber and purple. Filter thread 48mm.
  • Shutter: Between-the-lens type. Shutter speeds from 1/4 to 1/500 sec. and B. Automatically sets aperture, self-cocking combined film/shutter wind, self-timer, X-synchronization.
  • Viewfinder: Bright-Line type, Parallax Correction Mark
  • Rangefinder: Viewfinder combined with range-finder, bright frame with automatic parallax correction, aperture scale, exposure indicator, over/under exposure indicator, and over/under warning marks.
  • EE Mechanism: Built in exposure meter with CdS cell for fully automatic exposure control. Shutter speed priority system. ASA 25-800 (DIN 15-30). With ASA 100 film, EV 3.5 (f/1.7 at 1/4 sec.) EV 17 (f/16 at 1/500 sec.)
  • Battery: Originally powered by one 1.35V M20 (#625) mercury battery. Battery checker built-in. (It's possible to use alternatives. *see above)
  • Flash: Hot shoe Accessory shoe with direct contact exclusive for Canolite D and the flash socket for the other flash units. Electronic Flash Sync with All Shutter Speeds.
  • Weight: 620g


  1. Gary Reese, Olympus OM System Lens Tests and Auction Values,



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