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Canonet light meter

christopher hargens , Oct 05, 1999; 01:33 a.m.

I recently bought a Canonet Gl17 from Ebay. Everything seems to be working fine (I haven't run film through it yet) except the light meter. I'm not sure if it's the battery or the meter. Looking at the FAQ page (www.algonet.se/~bengthat/photo/faqs_docs.html) I read that "the unit takes a single PX-625. It is only required if you are using one of the autoexposure modes." I understand this to mean that autoexposure mode will not work if you do not have a working battery, but manual mode will work BUT you must use a manual light meter. When I put the camera in autoexposure mode point in the viewfinder "twitches" a bit but nothing more. The FAQ also states that the camera is equipped with a "battery test lamp." I gather this is green button on the camera that says "check" -- the green light doesn't go on. Sound like it's the battery?

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Bob Atkins , Oct 05, 1999; 10:33 a.m.

Yes

Terry Carraway , Oct 05, 1999; 12:50 p.m.

Also Yes.

Do realize that the meter is calibrated for a mercury cell. I don't think you an use any of the adapters like the CRIS unit due to the design of the battery compartment. Best would be a Wein cell, or a quick trip to Canada.

John Kantor , Oct 05, 1999; 01:17 p.m.

I also bought a Canonet GL17 from eBay. I didn't have any trouble finding a mercury free replacement at my local camera store (Orlando).

Bob Atkins , Oct 05, 1999; 01:29 p.m.

The mercury free replacements are the wrong voltage and will give small exposure errors. Most users probably wouldn't see a problem when using print film but if you intend to shoot slides you probably want to track down a mercury cell.

christopher hargens , Oct 05, 1999; 03:58 p.m.

Thanks for all the information. I bought an alkaline battery. The meter became active (responsive to light and changes in shutter speed), but it wouldn't give an aperture reading smaller than f4, even when I slowed the shutter speed down to 4 and designated an ASA of 800. So I traded the alkaline for a zinc-air -- same thing happened. Of course, it could be that the autoexposure does indeed work but the aperture indicator is sluggish and doesn't want to register beyond f4. Running film through the camera will answer that question. Worst case, I can use a hand-held light meter or try to guess. I'm inclined to do the latter because I bought this camera for quick shooting. If anyone has any thoughts on or experience with meterless-Canonet phototaking, I'd love to hear them.

Bill Schaffel , Oct 05, 1999; 04:06 p.m.

You should be able to take the battery down to your local Radio Shack and have it tested. If it's not the battery, try cleaning and checking the battery contacts before investing in repairs or an external meter. I have the alkaline 625 battery in my GIII and it has worked fine except under some conditions the meter seems quite sensitive and jumpy. It may be that way with a mercury battery as well.

One recent suggestion I've heard, but not yet tried, is to use 625 zinc-air hearing aide batteries. They cost around a dollar a piece and have the same voltage specs as the PX625. The Wein PX625 replacement battery is also a zinc-air design and is quite expensive. Zinc-air batteries have a much shorter lifespan than alkaline or mercury batteries.

Joseph Albert , Oct 06, 1999; 04:24 a.m.

It sounds to me like the problem is that the meter or display is broken. An alkaline battery will not exhibit the described behavior with a working QL17 meter. Alkaline batteries do not maintain a constant voltage as they gradually discharge over time. when they are old, the voltage will be lower than when they are new, so the meter readings won't be consistent in a camera without voltage regulation circuitry, such as a Schottky (sp?) diode installed. Moreover, brand new alkaline batteries can damage a CdS meter that is designed for the 1.35V of a mercury battery.

My experience with Canonet's is that the meters aren't very good when they work properly, but old ones usually have jumpy, inconsistent meters. As a result, I think these cameras are best used battery-less and meterless. I don't think the meter is all that great if you are exposing slides either.

The best way to work with these types of cameras is to develop enough intuition for lighting to at least tell if a given lighting is not changing. when you shoot, pre-meter to determine exposure and preset the camera for exposure, and then concentrate on composition and focus when shooting. Develop enough intuition for lighting that you can tell when you need to re-meter.

I had two Canonet G-III QL17's but they finally bit the dust-- one on account of taking a 3 foot fall onto concrete, the other a minor knock that proved sufficient to throw off the calibration of the rangefinder. Since then, I've handled several of these cameras for sale and every one had a rangefinder that was out of calibration. Given my experiences with the ones I had, I don't think it takes too big of a knock to throw the rangefinder off, and many QL17's these days have poorly calibrated focusing-- something to look for when purchasing them.

I currently own a Konica Auto S and have in the past owned a Konica Auto S2. If you don't mind a slightly larger and slightly heavier camera, the Konica rangefinders are superior (and sharper) imho.

Edward Kang , Mar 06, 2002; 11:49 a.m.

Note to people, PX725 Zinc Air cells are available at $6.00 for 4, and they fit perfectly inside the battery compartment of the QL17-GIII. Best of all they are rated at 1.4V so the meter accuracy should be closer to normal.

Reagen Ward , Oct 30, 2002; 02:30 p.m.

You can buy the original mercury batteries online at http://www.px625.com/ if you want. When it's dead, be sure to dispose of it properly (take it to a battery recycling center and tell them that it's a mercury battery) and you'll be fine.

While the batteries aren't cheap, they last years with normal use. Zinc-air batteries don't last long at all.


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