Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Canonet QL17 G-III

The Canonet QL17 G-III is one of the most popular fixed-lens compact rangefinder cameras of the 70's. It features shutter-priority and fully manual exposure modes, with shutter speeds from 1/500 to 30 seconds and bulb. The lens is a 40mm Canon lens, while not as sharp as some of the competition at the time, is perfectly usable and creates nice images.

The finish of the QL17 is top-notch with beautiful trim. It feels quite heavy in the hand for its size, giving a sense of good quality. The namesake quick load system is a joy to use; pull out film to the indicated position and close the door. No more putting film headers in slits. In the back, there are indicator windows to give assurance that film is being advanced when the level is wound. One odd thing is the shutter button. It is a little wobbly with some play...just does not give the same solid feel as the rest of the camera.

The focus ring has a finger tab. It is a necessity given how thin the focus ring is. I can imagine it being very useful when I have gloves on, but I find it awkward because I have to take my hand slightly off the lens barrel to push the tab. I also find the aperture and shutter speed rings a bit stiff. They are thin and does not provide enough traction.

The Cds meter is activated during shutter-priority mode. When the aperture ring is turned to the 'A' position, the meter needle indicates the chosen aperture as the shutter speed ring is moved. It almost feels like aperture-priority when looking through the viewfinder. If the chosen aperture is out of range, the shutter release will lock and cannot be depressed. The photographer can then switch to manual mode to override the settings. I think this works better than the sometimes hard-to-see arrows on the Yashica Electro 35 cameras.

Inside the meter window right above the lens, there is a ring with holes of various sizes that correspond to each shutter speed. Sometimes I wonder if the meter will work accurately if the hole is off center when I change the shutter speed. In the Yashica Elector 35 cameras, the holes are tied to the ASA selected which I think is a better implementation. Nonetheless, all the pictures came out great in my test roll, so I guess it works well enough :)

My biggest complain with the QL17 is the viewfinder. It's nice and bright, but it makes the rangefinder spot quite hard to see in low light. My Yashica GX has a viewfinder with a dark green cast. At first I thought it's kinda dark; now I understand it helps to create better contrast with the golden spot so it is easier to focus.

I personally feel the QL17 is a camera for the more deliberate shooters. It works great if there is time to adjust the shutter speed till the desired aperture is reached. Manual mode is also a nice thing to have for street photography.


(Canonet QL17 GIII x Fujicolor Pro 400H)


Friday, June 15, 2007

Pentax K10D Grand Prix Limited Edition Package

To celebrate the K10D's winning of the 2007 Camera Grand Prix, Pentax announced a limited edition package (5000 sets). It features a K10D with gold-colored Pentax and K10D logo, mode dial, and the line “CAMERA GRAND PRIX 2007“ below the rear LCD. It also comes with a battery grip with a brown lever, and a matching camera strap.

The K10D is certainly a great camera. Now Pentax just have to make avaliable some good cheap autofocus primes on the market. It's a strange situation to have ONLY the Limited lenses in stock and everything else sold out...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Konica Wai Wai Super Wide camera

The Konica Wai Wai camera is one of those strange cameras that only the Japanese can imagine. Selling for less than $10 USD, this disposable camera has a 17mm ultra wide angle lens. There is a mirror attached around the lens for taking self-portraits. Taking self portraits with a whole bunch of people is great fun, and very easy. The camera has a fixed aperture of f/8 and fixed shutter speed at 1/100. Just press the shutter button and hope the film has enough latitude! A flash is included for indoor pictures (an absolute necessity).

Lens performance is of course not even close to competition for an SLR lens. Center is acceptable and the corners are quite fuzzy. The minimum in-focus distance is 40cm, which is somewhat limited for such a wide lens, for example if you want to close up pictures of your dog and keep it not too small in the picture. For people pictures though, it's perfect and produces very interesting effects.

There's just one tiny little problem: this thing is disposable. Luckily, Konica has designed it well enough that people discovered a way to reload the film! I tried it myself, and didn't find it too difficult. The only tricky part was that I had to hide in a dark room under the blanket to unwind the film completely to put it into the case. It made me a bit nervous but the result was worth it.


(Konica Wai Wai x Konica 800 expired 2 years)

(Konica Wai Wai x Fujicolor Natura 1600)