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This Canon rangefinder from the 1970s inspires me to violate my usual gear review moratorium. There's a lot to be said about what is really a very simple camera.
To get the obvious stuff out of the way:
If you're looking for a rangefinder and find one of these, I doubt you'll be disappointed. The shutter is quiet. The camera is solid, fun to shoot, and provides flash sync up to 1/500th of a second (!). It has parallax correction, which in plain English means the frameline in the viewfinder corrects for the offset from the lens. The lens itself is fast and sharp, and has even been compared to a Leica CL lens. I find it provides fantastic colour rendition with slide film.
If you are going to shoot slide film everyone knows you'll need great exposure and thus a very accurate meter. Here's where you may have an issue. The Canonet runs on mercury batteries which are now banned. These are still legal in Asia so you could probably get some if you really worked at it (Note: I'm not advocating this.) The closest modern equivalent are zinc-air batteries. These are expensive and don't last long. It's also worth mentioning that when I got my Canonet I put in a zinc-air battery, and from that moment the previously-functioning meter on my camera never worked again. Oops! Alkaline batteries will function but will juice the meter to overexpose when new and cause underexposure as they run out. You could probably learn to compensate for this, however my recommendation is just to pass on the internal meter altogether. The truth is, you really can shoot without a meter – honest – even if you're shooting chromes. If you feel this isn't for you, I'd probably pass on this camera.
What I find most interesting about the Canonet, though, is that it's what might be called a 'technoparadox.'
This goes beyond the subjective analog vs. digital debates of vinyl vs. CDs, or film vs. pixels. The Canonet, in its day, was a consumer grade camera. They made over a million of them. Yet look at some of the objectively superior features of this camera. It has an f 1.7 lens, faster than about 90% of lenses sold today. The flash sync is faster than what you'll find on the Nikon pro flagship D4, which, costs six thousand dollars.
I'm not saying things were better in the old days. But sometimes it really is one step forward, two steps back.