Saturday, May 16, 2009

In writing on the early 60's-70's Japanese Rangefinders I've been thinking about buying one on e-bay. Okay I am going to buy one on e-bay. Trying to follow my own advice I've settled on a few interesting models based on availablility. So far the easiest one to find appears to be the Canon Canonet G-III 17. Prices are ranging from 9.99 to someone trying to sell one for 229.00 (good luck with that). The camera had many, many permutations from the earliest models that came out when Kennedy was still president to the time "Watergate" entered the modern lexicon. This is a good thing because I can look along the tech spectrum for that model that balances just the right amount of technology with reliability and retaining manual control. The "greenest" model would probably be the first one which used the selenium cell "solar powered" light meter which requires no battery but means it only works effectively outdoors in bright light. A friend once gave me their fathers old 35mm camera with such a meter. The camera was probably from the 50's and the meter still read accurate when checked against my hand held light meter. Later models went with Cds which used a mercury battery for a power source and boosted the sensitivity of the meter to read in lower light conditions. Problems with old Cds meters have to do with the unavailablility of the mercury batteries that these cameras were designed for and what current battery options are available that allow functionality with a minimum of tweaking. This particular model does use the same type batteries that I can make work with all my current Nikon cameras but I also have a hand held light meter that I can use to periodically check meter accuracy.
The numbers like 17 or 28 refer to the fastest lens apeture. So the Canonet model 17 has a 1.7 lens the Canonet model 28 a 2.8. The latter model was the camera of choice of the young photographer in one of my favorite movies Pecker by John Waters. This film was one of the small bits of inspiration that made me want to return to photography.


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