Canon Canonet 28

A small, cheap rangefinder with fixed 40mm f/2.8 lens
Canonet 28

I picked up this camera on eBay in 2009 for less than $20. The only issue with it is that it requires a PX625 mercury battery that is no longer readily available. Without the battery installed, it can only operate at a fixed shutter speed of 130 with a manually set aperture. On many of these older cameras, the mercury cell was used because it has a stable voltage–it stays at 1.35V until it’s dead. Some people replace it with an alkaline cell, but that starts out at 1.5V (which will make the meter inaccurate), and slowly drop as the energy is used. I’ve been using a 675 zinc-air hearing-aid battery; these have a similar voltage curve to the mercury cell, but they only last a couple of months once you expose them to air. These batteries are pretty cheap, and are readily available at pharmacies.

Once the battery issue was sorted, the camera turned out to be a good performer. The lens is sharp, and the meter seems to be accurate enough. Unless you put it in flash mode (fixed 130 shutter and manual aperture), the camera is fully automatic (exposure-wise). A needle in the viewfinder shows you what shutter speed will be used, and the camera picks the aperture and doesn’t even indicate what it will be.

It’s a manual-focus camera, with the traditional double-image rangefinder. The second image is getting a bit dim though, so I did this simple mod to make it easier to focus.

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