Roll 3: Retro Rangefinder Report

Film: Kodak Ektar 100

Camera: Canon QL-17 G-III; Lens: fixed f/1.7

I stumbled on this brave little rangefinder at a local camera store which sells vintage and used gear.  It looked very clean, the price was right, and it included a CLA prior to pick up.  I’m always a little suspicious when I shoot a vintage camera for the first time.  There’re so many things that might not work as expected and as I work through a roll of film, I imagine them all.  I had heard that the QL-17 is a great street camera because its shutter is so quiet.  I honestly didn’t believe the shutter was firing properly while I was shooting it. I expected the exposure to be wildly under-exposed.  I was wrong.

Another problem with old cameras is the light meter.  Assuming it is still capable of accurately measuring a scene’s illumination, there’s always the issue of battery compatibility.  The original battery form factor may not be available, or modern equivalents may provide a different voltage. The shop usually tweaks the meter to work with modern batteries, but I didn’t explicitly discuss this when I picked it up.  The QL-17 has an automatic Aperture Priority mode that relies on the 40 year-old meter.  I made many duplicate exposures, first metering with my trusted Gossen hand-held Digisix, and then using the AE mode.  I fully expected the automatic exposures to be incorrect. I was wrong.


Still life with ketchup

This is the first exposure I made. Shooting Ektar, I felt it was important to shoot something red.  I love the warmth of this film.

A tale of a fateful trip.

Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale…

A quick shot of boats on Seattle’s ship canal.  Lots of detail to check for focus and sharpness. The QL-17 does not disappoint.



Where were you in '62?

Seattle’s Monorail

Seattle’s Monorail dates back to the 1962 World Fair.  Still in operation, two trains shuttle back and forth a one-mile route between downtown and the Seattle Center.  When the two trains collided, in 2006, at a narrow spot on the side-by-side concrete rails, the Seattle Opera had the expertise, tools, and vision to duplicate the decades-old sheet metal work. Sharing this awesome story makes me happy.



After a work-related class, I had some time to shoot the QL-17 a bit.  The Tulalip Casino Resort wasn’t too far away.  I know too much about probability to waste my time and money gambling, but the resort has some extravagant lawn statuary that caught my eye.  In a different context, the orca totally looks real. The fifteen-foot tall harpooner, not so much.


Orcinus tackynus

It's big and trite

Bronzed Native

I am really delighted by the performance of this snappy little RF, and I look forward to running many, many more rolls of film through it.

8 thoughts on “Roll 3: Retro Rangefinder Report

  1. Great post Todd. One of the most well formatted ones here as well. Great shots and scans too. Which scanner are you using, these look fantastic.

    I simply love those seventies 40mm fast rangefinders.


  2. Thanks for the kind words! I have a photo lab not too far away, Moon Photo, in Seattle, little mom and pop shop. They process my film and scan it. They do great work and use a NORITSU KOKI QSS-32_33 commercial scanner. In other news, I just got set up to develop B&W again. I have an Epson V500 that is more capable than I am. Look for adventures in home developing and scanning soon!


  3. Really like the monorail shot, a classic looking shot. The Vespa is startling sharp too! I have never got along with this breed of Rangefinders but they clearly are very good indeed.


  4. Ha ha! And thanks! Cameras are like friends – I have room in my heart for many different relationships. But I guarantee to you that there will much more pinhole. Much more.


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