Canon Canonet 28

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Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:

Canon Canonet 28

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The Canonet 28 is a coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera with fully automatic exposure. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

The Canonet 28 was released in March 1971 by Canon and sports a 40mm f/2.8 Canon lens. The Canon Museum notes that its original retail price was ¥18,300 with an additional ¥1,500 for the case. The yen was fixed at ¥308 to US$1 at the time so the dollar price was approx. $59 for the camera, $5 for the case. According to the AIER, $59 in 1971 is worth approximately $261 in current 2002 dollars. The camera was made for about 5 years until 1976. It was a low-end consumer model so you can usually find it pretty inexpensively.

The Canonet came to fame with the movie Pecker. It's been called the Poor Woman's Leica (or Poor Man's Leica if you're a chauvinist). It's small, light, reliable, quiet, the lens is fairly bright and contrasty, and it costs about 1/100 of a Leica M series. It's been found in garage sales and goodwill stores for much less than its real value. A perfect street camera, especially if you can find the higher-quality QL17 model.

Interesting quirks

The Canon shutter is entirely stepless from 1/30 to 1/620 seconds. It's not TTL metering as the CdS cell is located right above the taking lens, but it still does a great job.Since the CdS cell is on the lens mount itself, a handy feature is that if you forget to leave the lens cap on (a common mistake with rangefinders as the viewscreen doesn't go black as with SLRs), the camera's slow-shutter interlock functions and you can't take a picture. Sweet.

Although the Canon Museum says this unit features parallax compensation, my one doesn't. It only has a spare set of gridlines in the viewfinder that one is supposed to use at close distances. Bah. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

The Canonlite flash that came with it can be coupled with the metering system through an extra pin on the hotshoe. This allows for full "plug-and-play" nighttime shots, that is if your Canolite wasn't DOA. Grr.

The program automatic exposure is annoying. There, I said it. In daylight, it gives you the shutterspeed reading, but the aperture it hass selected is a mystery (somewhat - it selects mid-apertures in most cases). When trying to flash sync, you can't take advantage of the Copal shutter's ability to sync at any speed. Moving the aperture dial off automatic exposure also locks down the shutter speed to 1/60 (I think). Bah.

If there's one major complaint, it's that the camera only supports a maximum film ASA speed of 400. This rules out most of the neat ISO 800 films that are now out there. Phooey! And the mercury PX-625 battery is no longer available. 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.


Technical Details

Camera Name
Canonet 28
Canon, Inc.
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
1971 ~ 1976
Focusing System

Coupled rangefinder

Lens use helicoid focusing


40mm, f/2.8, Canon lens (5 elements in 4 groups)

Minimum focusing distance = 0.8 meters (~3 feet)

Right focusing (infinity on right side)


Copal shutter 1/30 - 1/620

X-flash sync at all speeds

Metering System

CdS cell mounted above lens on lensmount
Fully automatic program exposure.

Needle in viewfinder gives current shutter speed

EV 8 - 17 (at ISO 100)


f/2.8 ~ f/16 manual

f/2.8 ~ f/14.5 automatic


External hot-shoe only (no PC connection)

Hotshoe has extra pin for dedicated Canolite D flash

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

ASA 25 to 400

Battery type
1.35v PX625 mercury-silver
Dimensions and weight
121 x 75 x 61 mm, 540 g
Retail price
¥18,300 (~US$59) in 1971
Note: Using the text or images on this site in an ebay auction without permission is a violation of your ebay Terms of Service. I will report you to ebay if I discover such a violation taking place. This may result in your account being cancelled. I also reserve the right to file claim for civil penalties.



About Canon

Canon started out its life as Seiki Kohgaku Kenkyuujo (Precision Optical Research Company). Its first goal was to produce domestic inexpensive Leica clones, and it released the Kwanon, its first camera in 1934. Interestingly, they used Nikon lenses since Nikon was already established as an optical lens manufacturer and was not making any of its own camera bodies at that time. Canon soon gained the ability to make their own lenses and never looked back. Nikon also went on to produce some reasonably popular cameras of its own as well.

The name 'Canon' comes from the Buddhist deity Kwanon and early Canon cameras were actually spelled 'Kwanon' and the lenses were named 'Kyasapa' after another deity.

Side note: Canon is my favorite Japanese company along with Honda. I actually interned for Canon Japan (ok, Canon Sales Japan, a part of the Canon keiretsu) during a summer in college and loved my coworkers to death. They keep coming out with innovations that take your breath away.

On the Net


Cult of the QL17:

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