Dear Canon: Please Give Us a Digital Canonet QL-17

Canon QL17

For many years now, I’ve been a Canon shooter. I still own a Canon 6D though I use Sigma lenses and manual flashes these days. I owned a Canon Canonet QL-17 for a hot minute–probably one of the most sought after fixed lens rangefinder film cameras ever made; and it was affordable! They’re beautiful pieces and sport a 40mm f1.7 lens on the front or another lens depending on the variation that you got for yourself.

Since the inception of digital, Canon has looked to digitizing their film camera bodies. This is evident in the 1D (1V) 7D (Elan 7 series, etc) and the 5D (EOS 5 series cameras) after totally abandoning the FD mount.

But you know what would really make me excited? A digital QL-17.

Kevin-Lee The Phoblographer Fujifilm X100T Product Images (1 of 7)

The closest thing that the market has is this gorgeous camera pictured above: the Fujifilm X100T. It’s a lovely device and gives the user a great experience, in a small body with incredible image quality. A close second would be the new Sony RX1r Mk II. But in the year 2015, I find it almost ridiculous to talk about image quality, pixel peeping, lens quality (to a certain point) and how amazing your high ISOs can be. Yes, I run a photography blog, but I’ve talked about this before. In the past weekend, I’ve been bombarded by essay-long emails, Facebook messages, texts, etc asking about Fujifilm or Olympus, or Sony or Fujifilm, etc and about the image quality.

But the absolute honest truth is that they’re all good. Any problems you have can be fixed with modern software and you should learn to embrace it. But that’s not why I’d love a digital Canon Canonet QL17.

The Canon Canonet QL17 and a couple of other rangefinder cameras (as well as film SLR cameras) had a really, really cool feature about it that should really be brought back to the digital age: both aperture control and shutter speed control around the lens. Considering that this camera would be a leaf shutter camera, it just makes sense ergonomically and in terms of the ease of use. Most of the time, when the camera is held to your eye, you’re cupping the lens and your fingers would be around it to ensure that it’s all stabilized. This would translate well over to a consumer that uses the LCD screen–and would then teach them better habits about holding a camera.

It wouldn’t necessarily need a zoom lens either: a nice prime would be incredible!

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon G1X review images (21 of 28)ISO 3201-320 sec at f - 2.0

But beyond that, it would help with something that Canon is currently trying to do: make a bigger splash in the mirrorless camera world. Sure, this wouldn’t have interchangeable lenses, but it would make folks consider a look over what Fujifilm, Sony and Panasonic have been doing for a while now–delivering incredible point and shoot cameras with a very large sensor. Canon could also use the 6D’s sensor or even something else like a 5D Mk III sensor. If not, an APS-C sensor could work swimmingly too.

Also considering the connection to Canon’s history, there is no reason why this couldn’t work in a time like now where premium point and shoot cameras are winning out over the super cheap point and shoot market.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Canon G1X review images (23 of 28)ISO 64001-400 sec at f - 2.0

You can surely consider these words to be the fantasy of an analog love struck fanboy, but considering how the industry has taken to the retro ergonomic design of near everything, this all just makes sense.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.