The QL17 Love Affair and My Newly Adressed Obsession With Gear

Self portrait wires

Eric’s Note: If you are wondering what all those crazy things coming out of Ollie’s head are, check out his last blog post.

Ollie Gapper: I was recently lucky enough to pick up a Canonet QL17 rangefinder off of eBay for a steal at £30 with postage, a camera I had been after for quite a while, and for good reason.

The QL17 is not so much an underrated camera, more overlooked – Its feature set is just about as comprehensive as anyone may need or even desire. Equipped with a 40mm F/1.7 lens, shutter speeds up to 1/500 down to 1/4 (plus bulb), shutter release thread, x-sync port (missing from a lot of the newest consumer cameras) and a hotshoe, it’s a camera that could be used for almost any application. So far I have shot it during an unexpected hospital visit with my niece, my overnight hospital visit in london and on the streets on London both with and without flash. I have not had it for a long enough period of time for this to be a review, more of a highlight of how much we need to spend on equipment – or think we need to spend.

For 2 years now I have obsessed over owning a Leica M system, and I mean really obsessed, I have notebooks dedicated to them, painstakingly created sketches of them, and a savings account dedicated to purchasing my first. This obsession has only eaten into time I could have spent looking at actual photographs, or artists, or time I could have been shooting. I know this article has been done to death, with one of my favourite articles being Eric’s ‘Buy Books, Not Gear’ But this is an ideology I have, until recently, only admired from a distance.

Since having the Canonet my obsession for such equipment has seen a dramatic decline and my productivity has risen in almost direct correlation. This sounds like Im trying to make everyone buy a Canonet which is absolutely not the case, I would instead like to help steer you into thinking about what you actually want and need from your equipment. Do you want a Leica or do you want a rangefinder? Do you want a Hasselblad or a 6×6? I’m not questioning the inherent merits of owning such exotic equipment, they each have individual qualities that unfortunately come at a price, and its these qualities that I feel we really need to examine in relation to our own work to workout if the investment Is really worth it.

I love my £30 camera and will continue to use it for any and everything. My Leica savings will remain, but my obsessive research shall cease, to be replaced with real research, or actual worth.

Heres a couple of shots I’ve grabbed in my short time using this fantastic camera:

Image 008

Image 003

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Hospital Series Mockup

Do you have an unhealthy obsession with gear? Share your experiences, thoughts, and struggles in the comments below! 

5 thoughts on “The QL17 Love Affair and My Newly Adressed Obsession With Gear”

  1. I actually recieved a nikon l35 af rangefinder from my friend whos dad had it and sad he had no use for it anymore. unfortunately ibroke the built in flash which actually worked pretty well, but i t was so small iscreet and autofocusing was supreme for street photography. Im definately staring ones down online to get naother

  2. I was looking for that camera and came across a mint condition Olympus 35 SP which is very similar to the Canonet. I also suddenly stopped eyeing on gear for almost a year and shot about 45 rolls with it.

    I think these small rangefinders are totally underrated, they usually are affordable, light wight, easy to use and take very sharp pictures ! For people looking for a first rangefinder or film camera that is the way to go !

    Some of my shots with the 35 SP :

    — Woods

  3. Thank you, Ollie.
    By reading this article feel glad to know that I am not alone who gone through the same obsession. Yes, owning my first rangefinder, Canonet QL 17 is teaching me to be more productive and less become owning the ‘perfect’ gear oriented. Yes, I still saving up my money and dream to have a Leica M but only if this now beloved Canonet QL 17 is really broken beyond repairable. Plus, having a simple, cheap and old Canonet does not gives me a perception as of a “Target” by the muggers and thieves while wandering around in-and-out the alleys in my town.

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