On the Fence

walking on a fence
#1950. Agfa HDC 200, Canon Canonet QL17 Giii.
I was taking photos around Sarah’s parents’ farm when she decided to walk on the fence (which overlooks a steep 50m (150ft) drop. I was grateful this photo turned out because I noticed my QL17 wasn’t giving me accurate meter readings in the fading evening light. I bracketed most of my shots, but I only had one chance with this photo. Fortunately, I added an extra stop to compensate for the bright sky.

sitting on a fence
#1951. Agfa HDC 200, Canon Canonet QL17 Giii.

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  1. I am considering adding a “simpler” camera to my kit for when I want to leave the Minolta XD-11 and X-700 at home. I read some reviews of the Canonet QL17 GIII and Olympus Trip 35, which interest me. Which one do you prefer?

    I would get a Minolta CLE and an M Rokkor 40mm F2 lens, but that’s not in my budget.

    1. Hi Khürt. I love them both and for different reasons. They are different user experiences.

      The Trip 35 is definitely more of a point & shoot. You only need to set the zone focus and then frame your shot. Unfortunately, I occasionally forget to set the focus and end up with blurry photos. I find auto mode to be very reliable and the Trip 35 often takes great photos in low light situations. As long as I remember to set the focus, I know I can count on the Trip 35.

      The QL17 is a rangefinder with shutter priority. You choose your shutter speed and the light meter sets the aperture. The viewfinder always shows you the selected aperture, so you can change your shutter speed to get the aperture you want before taking a photo. Or you can shoot in manual mode. The QL17 was originally meant to take a mercury battery, and since those are discontinued, you need to use an equivalent. However, using alkaline batteries will impact the accuracy of the light meter (the voltage and discharge curves are different). Instead, I use a zinc air hearing aid battery in a battery adapter. The zinc air is closer to the original mercury battery in voltage and so the light meter has better accuracy. That being said, I often make adjustments when I suspect the meter is wrong.

      Both cameras take great photos, and while the Trip 35 is easier to use, the QL17 is more versatile. The QL17 is definitely a slower experience when taking photos, but I love that. I enjoy having to think through a shot before pressing the button. And once I’m in the groove, it does become faster to use. I have a lot of fun shooting with the QL17 and I often choose it over the Trip 35.

      I hope this helps. And I hope you enjoy shooting with whichever camera you decide to purchase!

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