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        Canonet G-III 17

Quality Compact 35 Rangefinder   1972


Though probably the best selling fast lensed  compact 35 RF, today the G-III 17 mostly goes un-noticed and unwanted at camera shows.  Yet,  the G-III 17 has many features which current production cameras in its price range don't have: a sharp fast 40/1.7 lens, user selectable rangefinder focusing, and flash sync at all speeds.   It is one of the nicest of the '70s compact Rangefinder genre.

The G-III belongs in the elite small group of compact 35 Rangefinders with faster than f/2 lenses, combined with automatic exposure with manual over-ride.  It competes with the Leica CL, at far less cost. In size the G-III 17 is comparable to the Leica CL, but of course without interchangeable lenses.     Its specifications are pretty nifty for its genre.  So nifty in fact, the G-III  became a best seller  with over 1.2 MILLION SOLD from 1972 to 1982 per the Canon web site.  This probably makes the G-III the best selling 35mm  rangefinder with built in meter OF ALL TIME.   The Canon web site goes on to explain that the "G" stood for "grade up" in quality improvement, and the "III" for the third of the Canonet series.   A similar, less expensive, and harder to find Canonet G-III 19 was also made with a 5 element 45/f/1.9 lens.

The Plus Side

The Negatives

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The G-III is very well finished, more so than you would expect from this class of camera.  It has a feeling of quality about it that you have to feel to understand.   Pic on left shows the plastic covered PC connection, the battery test button with the battery test light, and the very large convenient lever rewind.   Center shows the lens. To use the camera on AE, chose the red A on the f/stop scale. The ASA range of 25 to 800 is shown atop the lens.   Change the ASA with the small chrome lever on the film advance side of the lens.    On the right, those little red bars move with the film, showing you have loaded the film properly.  Note the large for its class lever advance.

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The bottom of the camera shows the battery compartment, and the main problem of the G-III.  It takes the hard to find 625 batteries.   To the right is Canon's superb Quick Loading Film system.   Just bring the film leader over to the red mark, close the camera, and advance the film.

Do you prefer a longer lens?  The nearly identical Canon GIII QL 19 boasts the 45/1.9 lens instead of the GIII 17's  40/1.7 lens. 

The G-III 17 is quite pleasant to shoot.   The viewfinder is large, bright and very usable, though admittedly not up to Leica M standards.  It's  a very smooth operating camera, a pleasure to use.    Probably 95% of them were made in chrome, but black enamel was an option.    The body and the lens were both black, making for a handsome, unobtrusive camera. 

A friend of mine has six G-III 17's, claiming that in his tests the G-III outperformed the 40/2 on the Leica CL.   I am not sure you can depend on that level of performance,   but  for it to even compare to the much more expensive Leica  speaks very well of the little Canon.

As a footnote, I should mention that Canon really liked the name "Canonet 17."  In fact, they liked it so much they used it on THREE different cameras.   The first was in 1965.   It has  a longer 45/1.7 lens and was noticeably  larger than the later two QL-17's, but made along basically the same lines.  The next Canonet QL-17 came out in 1969,  looking  very much like the later Canonet G-III 17 QL of 1972.  The QL-17 G-III added a stronger rewind lever, a battery test light beside the battery test button, and according to Canon "improved quality," but they are almost identical in appearance.    

for another viewpoint, check out   Kyle Cassidy's "Ultra Cool Canon QL17" page


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The Black Canon QL17 and QL17 G-III are the prettiest of the small 70's compact rangefinders, the benefit of a magnificent black enamel finish.

They are also hard to find.




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Black G-III QL courtesy of Khoi Nguyen


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Revised: November 25, 2003 Copyright � 1998-2003  Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved.    This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind.  Information in this document is subject to change without notice.  Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.