Canon Canonet 28 [1971]

Pecker's Side Arm

DSC07870.jpgAs I tentatively got back into the world of film cameras I wondered what cameras I could find that merged my love of film props with my camera obsession. I'd just bought the John Waters' movie Pecker on DVD and realized that the junk camera he carried might be within my price range. A little searching on the web and I found that Pecker's camera was a Canon Canonet 28. Actually it's the new 28, the old 28 sporting a selenium photocell around its lens, was a zone focus camera rather than a rangefinder.

A little more searching on eBay found this example for a very reasonable $10.52 inc. P&P. It arrived with the foam badly rotted which is only to be expected with cameras of this era. An old battery had been left in the camera and had leaked which, again, seems to be the typical condition of cameras of this vintage. After removing the battery, cleaning the battery holder and contacts with vinegar and a Q-tip and inserting a 675 hearing aid battery suitably padded the camera seemed to function correctly.

The Canonet 28 was a cheaper version of the new (GIII) Canonet 17. I believe it uses the same basic body as it's more expensive stable mate but it has a slower f2.8 lens as opposed the more expensive and semi-legendary f1.7. It is also fully automatic and lacks many of the advanced features that the 17,19 and 25 had. Owners around the net seem to get confused by the aperture ring the 28 wears; when it is moved from automatic they expect the camera to become aperture priority but it seems to turn off the exposure meter, fix the shutter speed and they worry that their camera is broken. It is actually functioning as designed. Reading the manual (now there's a concept) seems to indicate that the manual aperture adjustment is only provided for use with a flash that isn't the Canolite D. When moved from "A" the shutter speed gets set to 1/30th second to provide flash sync with any generic flash gun and you would set the aperture indicated by that flash. Again, this can lead to some confusion as we are told that the flash syncs at all speeds so why is the shutter getting set to 1/30th? The shutter will actually will sync with the Canolite D flash at all speeds when the camera is set to automatic. This was an early form of dedicated flash but generic flash guns will only sync at 1/30th.

DSC07871.jpgBut flash photography is not what this camera is about. Throw in some modern film, let the camera's automatic exposure do its thing it decent outdoor light and enjoy a simple rangefinder experience with a nice lens. Your only control over the exposure is by locking the exposure on something with an appropriate EV by half pressing the shutter before returning to your subject to trip the shutter or by messing with the ASA setting. Don't look through the viewfinder and expect to see what aperture has been chosen for you either. You will see the shutter speed setting but not the aperture but I've been told that the circuitry aims for middle of the road settings which is where the len's sweet spot should be. If you need more control than this, the Canonet 28 is not the camera to take with you that day.

One final source of confusion is that Canon's own museum description of the specifications of this camera describe it has having "Parallax correction". The American model, at least, doesn't have parallax correction in the same way as the 17 thru 25 which have a sliding frame linked to your focus setting. The 28 has the typical 2 sets of frames in the viewfinder but that isn't really parallax correction is it? It's still a very useable camera, with a nice, reasonably bright viewfinder and a pretty good lens which is a gentle introduction to the world of rangefinders and will produce prints better than many contemporary point and shoots.

Links

  • Le Canon New Canonet 28, le télémétrique d'entrée de gamme des Canonet - Like most Brits, my French is terrible, however, even I can tell that Lionel's site is amazing
  • Manual
  • Photoethnography's view of the 28 - I love this site though they do claim that the 28's circuitry is voltage compensating to allow the use of 1.5 volt batteries. To the best of my knowledge it is not, however, the latitude of modern films and the expected inaccuracy of a three decade old camera probably accounts for their conclusion. Alternatively, the previous owner of their camera may have had it adjusted to take modern batteries.

Comments

I have just aquired a Canonet 28 off ebay. I paid 20 UKP for int inc. p&p and yes, I thought it was malfunctioning when I swithched it off 'A' so thanks for pointing that out. Read the manual? There's a novelty.

Posted by: Paul at April 12, 2004 7:15 AM

Hello Martin,

Congratulations for your website. I was readind your comments on the Canonet 28, and I'm quite OK with you.

I collect cameras, especially the rangefinders and compact cameras, those produced in the 70's-80's, just before the all plastic made cameras... I find usefull to preserve this aera of cameras. Please have a look to my web site http://35mm-compact.com/

If you find it interesting, I would appreciate if you could make a link from your Canonet 28 page to http://35mm-compact.com/compact/canonet28.htm.

Of course, I would also setup a link from my Canonet 28 page to the Canonet 28 page of your web site.

If you are not interested in setting up a link, this is not a problem. Just let me know.

Many thanks,
Lionel

P.S. : Please excuse my bad english but this the best I can do for a French man!

P.S. 2 : I have recently changed my domain name 35mm.compact.free.fr which was PR5 in Google to 35mm-compact.com which is PR0, but should be soon back to PR5.

Posted by: Lionel at July 18, 2004 11:03 AM

My French sucks but Lionel's site (linked above) is so worth visiting.

Posted by: Martin at August 31, 2004 5:15 PM

I also got a Canonet 28 via EBay and am delighted with the little thing; does anyone know the size of the filters the lens accept? Fab.

Posted by: Fabio at September 9, 2004 5:25 PM

I just got a Canonet 28 free from a neighbour and, while I'm interested in photography, my terminology and knowledge is pretty lousy. So thanks for your site!!!

Posted by: Allie at September 18, 2004 1:36 PM

Hello,

I was given the old (photocell model) a fews years back from an old relative in India. I also have irs little leather case. This thing must be at least 30 years old?

I was amazed to see that there is info like this on the net. Thanks.

Posted by: robert at October 14, 2004 7:28 PM

can you send me a owners manual for my camera
( canonet 28 ) postally ? if not then threw email

Posted by: lisa at November 1, 2004 12:42 PM

I have a canonet 28 camera
I am faceing one problem in this camera's flash is not open with click the shot.

pl. you are rectify this problem.

Posted by: dipak at November 4, 2004 2:32 AM

Google linked me to this page, nice reading

Posted by: Andrew J Lace at November 5, 2004 9:31 AM

Thanks for the info's on the site. What kind of patting do you use for the battery?

Posted by: Heidi Petry at November 29, 2004 9:32 AM

Great site... just bought a canonet 28 off ebay and waiting for it's arrival. I was into photography 25 years ago and am looking forward to picking it up again.
what film should I start out with... and what kind of battery do I need / where can i find them?

thanks for this informative site. Wade

Posted by: Wade at January 16, 2005 12:24 PM

FILM STOCKS ADVICE...
FORGET KODAK...
GET SOME FUJI REALA OR SUPERIA NEGATIVE..
GOOD COLOURS,PLENTY OF LATITUDE SO EVEN WITH AN OLD
CAMERA YOU SHOULD GET AN IMAGE..
ALSO TRY ILFORD XP4,BLACK AND WHITE,GOES THROUGH
NORMAL COLOUR CHEMICALS,SO ANY HIGH STREET STORE CAN PROCESS

Posted by: alan doyle at January 27, 2005 5:08 PM

The Canonet 28 takes just as good a photo as the conatx t, or the olympus xa. Also, it is easier and more fun to use.

Posted by: Jack B. at February 27, 2005 11:33 PM

i have a Canonet 28 bought it for 10,00 was awesome buy i use it alot along with my kodak brownie

Posted by: Liam Owen at May 29, 2005 8:30 AM

I bought this Canonet 28 from a fleas market's sale at about GBP10 (RM70) and found that the focussing rim has been glued to the lens. Cosmetically very clean and scratch free, including the lens. I would like to have this camera to work again. Anybody outthere has any ideas? Thanks.

Posted by: Old crimson at August 16, 2005 7:12 PM

My Mum gave me one of her old camera's as I intented to follow a photography course and I absolutely love this one. Was googling for some information about this camera and was delighted to find this site. Thanks!

Posted by: Stephanie at September 2, 2005 4:10 AM

Stephanie:
Thanks for stopping by. The Cononet 28 is a fun camera to use with a really nice lens that produces darn good shots to boot.
Regards - Martin

Old crimson:
Try these guys for some practical help: http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/forum/
My main concern would be why the previous owner felt this hack was necessary.

Posted by: Martin Taylor at September 2, 2005 12:34 PM

I have a canonet 28 with the film brock can't get the back to open can you tell m,e hoe to open it ?
on the back of it. it has canon inc. made in Taiwan R.O.C.# G64568 Can you help me with this?
thanks:

Posted by: O'Neal Freeman at September 20, 2005 4:29 PM

I bought a canon canonet 28 camera for my wife but like someone else, can't figure how to open up the back to insert film. Also, any access to manual info, thanks. Bobby.

Posted by: Bobby at December 8, 2005 4:19 PM

Manual: http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/instructionmanuals.html

To open the back: pull the film rewind knob up, away from the top of the camera.

Regards - Martin

Posted by: Martin Taylor at December 9, 2005 2:00 PM

oh! i just randomly stepped onto your side.. i wanted to know about this camera some more anyway.. so i feel lucky!.. your side is quite good and i thank you for putting up so much important informations that are usually hard to find (when its about main-problems et cettera):

greetings from berlin, germany!

Posted by: Sophia Scalpel at January 1, 2006 3:52 PM

I am the original owner of a Canonet 28 which I purchased new back in December 1985. Over the years I have found that it is among the best picture takers I have ever owned. Light, stylish, easy to use and very sharp lens! Over the years I have taken it with me on various trips. I had in serviced about 11 yrs ago (C.L.A) service in of all places, Puebla, Mexico for about $25 USD. In 2002, I replaced the light seals and the camera works beautifully.. Thankfully, I stockpiled about a dozen 625 Mercury cells which I keep refrigerated so voltage is not an issue. The 40mm f2.8 lens is nice and contrasty, one of the better small cameras I have owned.

One of the all time Canon greats!

Posted by: Luis E. Vernon at April 6, 2006 7:39 AM

i found my dad's canonet 28. i'm just starting to get interested in photography and I don't have an idea how to use it.

anyhoo, that's easy enough to solve but i think the lenses are a little dusty. how do i clean it up since the dirt i think is in the inside?

another thing, are the batteries hard to find? or are there any alternative batteries out there that will work that's easy to find in the market. thanks!

Posted by: RHeA at September 26, 2006 3:31 AM

Hi RHeA,
From http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/index-frameset.html?CanonCanonet28.html%7EmainFrame
"You can use an alkaline PX-625a or equivalent, but you'll need to compensate for the meter slightly since the alkalines are higher voltage (1.5v) than the mercury ones (1.35v). Run a test roll to see how much you need to compensate."

Personally, I've used hearing aid batteries with good results but then again, I'm cheap.

As for dirt - clean the lens front element and rear element - I wouldn't try to take the lens apart to clean the rest unless it's really fithly - a few specks of dust will not make any difference to your results. Just check that the dirt isn't mold - if the whole lens looks hazy you might have an issue.

Regards - Martin

Posted by: Martin Taylor at September 26, 2006 11:34 AM

I bought the camera from Finland and it costed 2 euros.

Posted by: Keili at January 28, 2007 11:11 AM

I have a nice canonet 28 with flash for sale.

Posted by: Matthew at February 9, 2007 3:16 PM

Hello freinds,
I have 2 canon cameras with flashes and notebook for sale.
-canonet 28
-canonet QL17
both are clean and made in CANON INC. of TAIWAN R.O.C.
My email address is :
shahla.semsarzadeh@gmail.com

Posted by: Shahla at April 24, 2007 8:35 PM

Hi Sam! Photos i send on e-mail.
Green

Posted by: Green at April 25, 2007 5:52 AM

i just got a canonet 28 , and it will not open ,to change film. idon't want to force it or break the lock.how would you open it. thanks

Posted by: rich at April 25, 2007 7:31 AM

I bought the best of the Canonet line, the GIII, QL17 at a yard sale in Connecticut last month for $10. It was mint except for the light seals. I had the seals replaced locally and have been facinated with the camera. It is quite, sharp and well built. It has the 40mm 1.7 lens.

If interested, go to my photo site and the fist gallery is a collection of shots from this camera. The scans are all done by the processor and required a lot of work to fix them up etc, but you'll see what the camera can do.

It's fun returninig to film after being digital for so long. It's a totlay different thought process. When shooting film, I think about each frame more carefully and compose better...

Posted by: Yarbz at May 18, 2007 4:51 AM