Walking down to the park (Canonet 19)

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by coryammerman, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. A couple of months ago I managed to pick up a Canonet 19 from eBay for a nice price. It was one of those estate/garage sale finds where the seller claimed they didn't know anything about the camera, no film to test, blah,blah,blah. Pretty common with most of the cameras I purchase these days. I'm a bit of a tinkerer and I don't mind putting at little work into getting something up and running. On arrival, to my pleasant surprise, everything worked, including even the selenium meter. The only thing I had to do was a minor adjustment to the rangefinder that took all of about 10 minutes. The vertical alignment was a bit off so I could have used it as it was if I had wanted to.
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    The original version of the Canonet 19 came out in 1961 and lasted, I believe, until it was replaced with the Quick Load (QL) model in 1965. It has a coated 45mm f1.9 lens that appears to be both decently sharp and contrasty. The shutter is a Copal-SV that offers speeds from 1/500 to 1 second, plus B and T modes. Setting the shutter to B requires the user to depress a tab on the side of the lens barrel before rotating the speed dial to the B position. In order to access T mode, you must first set the shutter to B and then turn the ring around the shutter button to the T position. Once you press the shutter button, the shutter stays open and the shutter button stays depressed until you return the ring to its original position. In addition to full manual controls, the Canonet 19 also offers shutter priority automation. The user sets the aperture to auto and selects the desired shutter speed. With a half press of the shutter button, the camera displays the selected aperture at the bottom of the viewfinder (this display is disabled in manual mode, unfortunately). If the correct exposure cannot be achieved, a red dot appears on the right side of the viewfinder and the shutter is disabled. This is a handy feature for photographers who sometimes forget to remove the lens cap. Not that I would ever do such a thing, mind you.
    The sharp-eyed viewer may notice in the picture above there is a Minolta lens cap under the lens barrel keeping the camera from doing a nose dive, as it is want to do. Almost Totally Useless Tip of the Day: The lens on the Canonet and the Rokkor PF 58/1.4 apparently share the same exterior dimensions despite having different filter threads, enabling the sharing of a push-on style cap.
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    While the Canonet is a quite capable picture taker, the ergonomics do leave a bit to be desired. If I were to use one word to describe them, it would be "backwards." In an apparent attempt to put form over function, only the shutter button is located on the top deck of the camera. The rewind and advance mechanisms, the tripod socket and the film door release are all on the bottom deck. The tab for the focus ring is also at the bottom of the lens barrel, an exceedingly inconvenient location. With the right hand on the shutter and the left on the advance lever, adjusting the focus with the tab at the bottom right requires either the employment of a third hand, which most of us are not equipped with, or quite a bit of fumbling around. Even the film loading is backwards, with the canister on the right and the film advancing to the left.
    I haven't been able to get out much lately, due to not wanting to take my 7 month old daughter out in the heat. We had a nice day yesterday, warm but with a nice breeze, so I decided to load some film in the camera and the baby in the stroller and off we went for a walk to nearby Overton Park. Since the meter seemed to be working correctly, I shot all these on auto. It did a pretty good job, but I have tweaked some of these pictures slightly. I'm not telling which ones though. You'll have to guess.
    Well, before heading out, I shot some wide aperture close-ups of some backyard flowers to test out the bokeh. Not something I normally spend a lot of time obsessing over, but some people do. I had to use a polarizer to get the open apertures with sunny skies and a shutter that tops out at 1/500. The Canonet has 55mm filter threads, a size in which I own exactly zero filters. So I held a 58mm filter up to the front of the lens, amazingly without getting any fingers in the shot. The things I go through to keep the CMC crowd informed.
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    Wait, how did that get in there? I think I've been sabotaged. I suspect the 7-month old. She's mad at me because, while I was trimming her fingernails, I accidentally trimmed one of her fingers. Don't worry. She'll be OK. I stuck it back on with some gaffer's tape.
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    This is the picture I was trying to post. Shot at F 2.8, I think.
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    This one was wide open.
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    Now off down the street to the park.
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    Along the way, I came across a yard belonging to someone who obviously has more time for gardening than I do. Too bad they apparently didn't have time to pick up their garden hose. Totally ruins the ambiance...jeez.
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    Unfortunately, between my house and the park, there is a neighborhood of, to use the term loosely, "modest" homes.
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    Here's a shot of one of the entrances. Covered in graffiti. Not a good sign.
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    Here's one of the first glorified sheds you come to. I mean, look at those overgrown shrubs. You can barely even see the house. There's a lawn mower at right, so I guess someone is at least trying to get things under control.
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    Guess this family can't afford a lawn mower. No self respect, I tell you.
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    This shack has a sign in front proclaiming to be Yard of the Month. Standards must be pretty low. Just look at the leaves everywhere. And weeds! Weeds, I tell you, growing all over the side of the house!
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    I guess I could live in this one, if I was forced to. As an aside, this shot clearly demonstrates my god-given ability to always hold the camera perfectly level with the horizon, regardless of the scene. Thankfully, a plane flew into the background to relieve the banality.
    Can't see the plane I'm talking about? Let me zoom in for you.
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    There it is.
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    These people even had the audacity to put concrete lions on both sides of their sidewalk. I could only bring myself to get one of them in the shot. It was just too much. (At this point, I should confess that I have a concrete lion in front of my own house. I didn't put it there, but I have calculated it's weight, using advanced mathmatics involving Calculus, the specific gravity of concrete, and the tidal pull of the moon, to be approximately 8 million pounds... depending on the phase of the moon, of course. Not owning any cranes or other heavy lifting equipment, it's bloody well staying there.)
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    My ever-vigilant travelling companion was appropriately underwhelmed with the whole experience.
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    Having made it through the shantytown, miraculously without being mugged, we reached the park. Overton park is quite large and includes the local zoo, old growth forests with walking trails, playgrounds, a lake and a nine hole golf course. None of which are pictured in this post.
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    I did take some shots of Veterans Plaza, however, which is also within the parks boundaries. This whole post has been fairly tongue-in-cheek to this point, but I'll put that on pause for now. I have nothing but the utmost respect for our veterans and the sacrifices they've made.
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    This is a close-up of the statue in the center of the last shot. It's part of the WWII memorial. I tried to adjust the ISO to counteract the backlighting and get some detail in the shadows. Minimally successful, I would say.
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    A Monument to the Memhis Belle. The plane itself was at one time displayed in Memphis, at a different location, but after years of neglect, vandalism and theft of various parts of the plane, it has been moved elsewhere to undergo restoration.
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    The Korean War monument. It's nice to see that "The Forgotten War" is remembered here. There is also a monument to WWI in the plaza, but I somehow didn't get a shot of that.
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    Some benches and an urn...duh.
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    More benches. I was shooting towards the sun to test lens flare.
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    This is the Art museum and the School of Art (part of the University of Memphis) also located in the park.
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    Next to the Art Museum is the Levitt Shell, where they have lots of free concerts that, due to work and family commitments, I never get to go to.
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    In front of the Shell is this gigantic metal piece of art, apparently made out of pieces of car frames and steel girders. It's titled Steel Guitar, and I guess, if you back up enough to see the whole thing, it does resemble half of a guitar laying on it's side. I couldn't get the whole thing in the shot with the 45mm lens, so you'll have to take my word for it.
    It's now time to bring a merciful end to this overly long and thoroughly banal post. If you made it this far without skipping to the end, thanks for that. You're probably a better person than me. What can I say? It's raining cats and dogs here in Memphis and I had nothing better to do.
    P.S.- film was Fugicolor 200 and the scans are from the Noritsu machine at the local Wallgreen's.
     
  2. "Overly long and thoroughly banal"? Never! That's what I call an interesting post, Cory, and those shacks you photographed along the way make good subjects for the Canonet. I quite like this model Canonet, despite the quirks you mention; it's a solid beast and the lens really is pretty good, as you've shown. Charming pic of your companion, too. You do stay inside in Memphis, when it's raining cats and dogs? I seem to remember something about walking in Memphis, in the middle of the pouring rain... Thanks for an amusing, decorative and enlightening post.
     
  3. Nice work!
     
  4. Great shots, Cory. The heat has been brutal so it's good you were able to get out and get some shots. I heard on The Weather Channel today about some flooding in Memphis-- hope y'all are okay there.
     
  5. Nice shots and I enjoyed the commentary. Thank you for the post.
     
  6. Cory--loved it! The photos and the comments. Those houses are grand. I'll bet your manse is even bigger! What city?
    Thanks again...
    Paul
     
  7. A delightful series, Cory and a fine camera to use. I found the lens on that original Canonet to be excellent. What a nice neighborhood but, yeah, the plane and level horizons really help.
     
  8. Wonderful Cory, I'm a fan of bottom wind cams after reading Rick and Louis presentations. Nice lens the Canonet 19 have.................thanks for sharing.
     
  9. These homes/mansions look like they are from the age of the Cotton aristocracy. Girls from these homes used to have a middle name, "cotton." I used to work in Memphis State U [now the U of Memphis] 1975 to 1978. Northern Memphis was yankee and Sothern Memphis was Dixie, even the way they spoke and served food.
    There was an East-West boulevard of 6 lanes dividing the North and South. I recall a 90 year old lady who used to drive a black Chevrolet coupe 1950s vintage. She drove on the wrong side of the road. Apparently, she was taken to Court by the Police for the violation. At the hearing she told the Judge " I have been driving here for the past 60 plus years. They have changed the rules now; it is unfair to ask me to go round, etc. " on further questioning the Judge found that she was driving out just once a month to visit the bank. So the Judge ruled in her favour that she was permitted to drive on the wrong side of the road "Just once a month...to visit her bank" for life. The traffic cops and the public helped her, in this. I have not come across another humanitarian gesture such as this by a Court.
    The city has revived a lot.
     
  10. I have a bottom wind Retina which I have yet to put film in. Now you've got me worried. I think the uniform
    and helmet say WWI. Good post.
     
  11. Thanks for the comments everyone. I guess I came across a little more negative in my comments about the Canonet than I really intended to. The lens on the camera is really quite nice. And the fact that that it's still working perfectly after 50 years, with no visible evidence of any CLA, is a testament to it's build quality. The only real issue I had was with the placement of the focusing lever on the bottom right. As a long time SLR user, I'm just used to focusing with the left hand. I'm sure with more practice, everything would become second nature.
    Rick- Marc Cohn can walk around in the rain all he wants to, but I tend to stay inside, especially with a little one in tow. Mike- we got quite a lot of rain yesterday, but most of the flooding was from overwhelmed drainage systems in low lying areas, nothing widespread. Luckily we stayed high and dry at my house. SP- Interesting story. I'm sure Memphis has changed quite a bit since you were here, but it's still home to some of the worst drivers I've ever seen. I think they hand out drivers licenses at Wal-Mart around here. Charles- don't let my comments worry you with that Retina. Like I said, my main issue was with the focusing. Bottom winding is actually pretty easy to get used to.
    Thanks again everyone. I'll have to take the Canonet out again when I can put forth a little more effort than just a walk down to the park and back.
     
  12. Hah! Thanks for the fun and informative series, Cory. A block away from my home are a few "shacks" like the ones you posted. The economic gradient (or at least housing ostentatiosity gradient) is remarkably steep in my area....
     

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