A Gift From a Family Friend

4 min read by Dmitri and Betty.
Canon Canonet QL-25 is a fixed 45mm f/2.5 lens 35mm rangefinder. Shutter priority with manual override. Launched in 1965, Japan.

Canon’s series of Canonet cameras are all fixed-lens 35mm film rangefinders. They are mostly known for the sought-after QL17 GIII, though they tend to differ widely in form and function throughout the line.

QL25, isn’t nearly as popular its top-of-the-line rival, GIII, due to its bulkier construction and a slower 45mm lens that opens up to 𝑓2.5. Despite those shortcomings, I found it to be fairly versatile and pleasant to hold, with one of the best leather case constructions I’ve owned: simple, functional, and beautiful.

The lens is made with a well-coated, reasonably sharp glass that’s easy to focus, with a comfortable tab and a large, bright viewfinder. The rangefinder patch is dim on mine, which makes focusing in the low-light situations difficult.

Dew on a roadside bush near my house. QL25 with Kodak Ektar 100.

I’ve got this camera as a gift from a family friend; it’s been my primary shooter for almost a year, until I got my Electro 35.

It came with lens fungus, stuck shutter blades and some light scratching on the front element, most of which wasn’t that difficult to mend. The abrasions on the glass made no difference for image quality (see this PetaPixel article), but the light meter continued to lack in accuracy even after being cleaned up. Thankfully, this camera could operate fully-manual with help from Lux light-metering app.

This is the grainiest film I’ve ever used. The mysterious “Kodak Color 400” - likely extracted from a disposable camera a decade or two ago. It came in with a bag of expired film rolls.

Being unsure of whether it works or not, I’ve placed a strange roll of expired film and took a few snaps. The results were a mix of hope and concern. The grain felt as if the pictures were drawn in the rough sand. Luckily, it wasn’t the camera’s or my fault, as you can see with the pictures below.

Som Tam salad with Singha beer for lunch. Shot on Kodak UltraMax 400.
Rain forest at the Doi Suthep national park. Agfa Vista 400. I love this film.
This photo was taken in Pai after walking through the jungle for four hours. The water felt great. Shot on Fuji Color 200.
Fuji Velvia 50 is a difficult film to shoot. It’s half as fast as the slowest film I typically use; motion blur without a tripod is almost unavoidable. It’s also an incredibly precise film that won’t shy away from demonstrating the QL25’s optic shortcomings. If you have a large enough screen and peer at the plane above you may notice some chromatic aberration.