I was so surprised to find this camera while wombling. I had previously found a QL17 G-III and loved it. So I had high hopes for this camera if it worked.
The seals were shot, so I changed them quickly. The battery check button didn’t seem to work, but the needle moved as it should as a meter. The rear lens seemed clear, but there was a little bit of fungus on the front. It didn’t seem to be enough to affect the photos. The viewfinder was slightly hazy, but not too much. The second image was light, but again I could still focus. Finally, there was a small dint on the front, top of the body. All minor things that should not have any effect.
As you can see the lens is 40mm, that indicates this is the newer QL version as the original had a 45mm lens. This one also accepts 800asa film as opposed to 400asa on the older versions. This great blog goes into great detail on the different versions. It was originally released in 1969, you can find more technical details here. There is very little difference between this version and the G-III one.
Ok, but did it work. I put in a hearing aid battery and I got to shooting. Pretty quickly I thought the aperture that was indicated by the needle was too high. I checked the reading with my phone lightmeter app and I was correct. I adjusted the asa until the needle matched the lightmeter choice. For a 400asa film, I set the camera to the notch just passed 200.
Here are my test results. I used half a roll of 400asa film on a dull day in Hibiya park.
I love it. The focusing is quick due to to the short lens movement. The shutter is very quiet. I usually like the “thunk” of vintage cameras, but this quiet noise is also pleasant. The shutter did not fire if the needle was in either of the red zones, which I love too as it means leaving the lens cap on is never an issue. The winder also had a short movement. And most of all, it looks friggin’ cool. The shorter movements meant catching the little boy in focus was much easier.
Hibiya Park is awesome, there is always something happening there, plus there are lots of different areas and lighting conditions. When I first moved to Japan, I started learning the language. One of the sentences I had to repeat was, “Hibiya Dori doko desu ka?”, where is Hibiya Road? I didn’t realize it was a real place. When I finally got to Japan and was standing on the actual street I was so excited. I shouted, “Hibiya Dori KOKO DESU!!!!”, here is Hibiya Road!!! I still do it every time I am there, even if it is just in my head.
Keep or Sell: I am tempted to keep this, but I do have the G-III. So really I don’t need it, do I? I just want it.