How does the $200 Canon Canonet compare to a $5,000 Leica Rangefinder?

Black and White Comparison

Leica MP + 40mm f/2 Summicron with Tri-X 400 vs the Cannot with HP5 400.  This test we shot at box speed and used the camera light meters.

Leica vs. Canonet  | Photo Color Comparison | Black and White Photo Comparison

Kodak Tri-X 400 vs. Ilford HP5 400 film canisters iconKodak Tri-X 400 is known for its classic grain structure, great contrast with deep blacks and pure whites, while Ilford HP5 PLUS 400 has less contrast with a subtle grain and very pleasant tones. View the Kodak Tri-X vs. Ilford HP5 Post


17 replies on “How does the $200 Canon Canonet compare to a $5,000 Leica Rangefinder?”

Fantastic article…I haven’t been considering rangefinders yet, but you’ve provided a great resource! My photography budget is definitely a concern, so I’d be more likely to go with the Canonet… I’m also concerned with direct availability, and in my area, that the Canonet would be simpler to find. I’ve been building a solid collection of analog cameras and so far, my best finds have come from yard sales (I’m in Wisconsin USA). I have an awesome Pentax K1000 & a Minolta SRT-101 that came w a bunch of lenses (still parsing what’s the best among that collection!) I’m happy to see a solid resource for rangefinders when I’m ready for that! Thanks!! :)))

Leicas are expensive because they are made in Germany in limited quantities and because of “market” pricing. Kinda like Porsche 911’s. I would love to have an M6 or M10 with 35mm, 50mm, & 135mm. I don’t have any Leica cameras. I do have an old Voightlander Prominent that was given to me by my Dad 50 years ago. It is a nice piece of jewelry & takes pretty good pictures still.

My experience though is that you can get very high quality film cameras that are much better quality both construction and results than a Canonet at similar money. For example an Olympus OM2n with 50mm f1.8. You can easily get one of those in great condition under $200. I also really like Minolta 600si cameras. The last one I bought for $35 with a 28-80mm zoom. It works well. I have several very high quality lenses I bought at low prices and this camera is nearly as modern as a new Nikon DSLR, but uses film. The results from the Oly or the Minolta will be much closer to the Leica. Very likely indistinguishable from the Leica.

But frankly I still might get a Leica one of these days or a Nikon D850. If I get a Leica I think I would like an M6 with 50mm f2.

I’ve seen a couple of one-shot comparisons between the Canon QL17 GIII and a Leica before and they showed much the same results — virtually identical images. Yours reinforce this, although it appears the Canon was having a tougher time with lens flare. Might that have been because you had a hood for the Leitz lens, but not for the Canon? One problem when shooting with a rangefinder is you can’t see when this is happening. With an SLR, you will. I will often hold out a hand to block the sun and reduce flare when this occurs, but that’s kinda hard to do — or to know when to do it and at what angle to hold your hand — when shooting with a rangefinder. All the more reason to use a hood.

Anyway, to me the result is a virtual dead heat. Which I like cuz I own a couple of the Canon QL-17 GIIIs but no Leica rangefinders.

And thanks for giving me a dose of homesickness with all those lovely beach scenics (I lived in SoCal for 24 years). Gotta get out that way again some day soon. And maybe while I’m there, I’ll be dropping off rolls of film for you guys to develop, cuz I still shoot film — Portra, slide and B&W — and I love it.

I’ve got a canonet ql 17 a 28 and a Leica m6.
I’d have to say the images are quite different in my experience, not massively, but certainly noticeably.
The main kicker for me though is usability and versatility and why I bit the bullet to get an m6 (a few years ago now mind and I’d struggle to find one at the sameness price). I find the canonets such a fiddle to use, the viewfinders are so poor compared to the m6 and of course they’re not really manual (certainly not the 28).
Of course it’s up to the individual to find what works best for them but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least try a Leica if you enjoy the rangefinder experience.

Great little comparison and timely, too, especially as I’ve been pouring over all kinds of information to shortlist my rangefinder shopping list. Always loved Leica, but really can’t afford it as the lenses keep adding up! Anyway, wouldn’t a more air comparison have been between a Leica and a Canon P or VI rather than the Canonet? Coincidentally, I recently saw Take’s video with you and recognized his photo right away!

Been shooting Canon since the 1970’s. I just recently picked up a Canonet G-III QL as a lark and was pleasantly surprised. Physically, despite its small size, the camera is extremely solid. Just shot a test roll of Ilford FP4 and sent in to the Darkroom for processing. I used an external light meter (Pentax Digital Spotmeter) as opposed to camera’s meter. Shots were nice and crisp, very sharp. Scanning the negatives also gave very good results. No complaints here.

PS I lived in San Clemente for seven years, but this was before I got back into film. Wish I knew about y’all back then…I would have gone back to film sooner!

Did you leave the sunhood on the Leica for this comparison? And if so was the Canonet shot without one? It seems some of the lens flares and shadow tones could be accounted to this if so. But still point well made! Canonet for the win in my book!

Thank you. A very interesting article. To be honest, I much prefer the colours from the Canonet over the Leica! A valid point made by another poster about being able to get an Olympus OM-2 with a 50mm f1.8 lens for the same, or less money. They are in a different league to the Canonet and of course give you access to the HUGE range of superb and freely available Zuiko lenses, which are a small fraction of the Leica ones.

Have a Canonet 35mm for sale along with a synclite super flash gun, bulbs and a Norwood super director light meter. Have no idea of what this is worth. Would like to know and if there is any interest, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. Please put “Canonet” in the subject line.

Buy the leica if you want to make money on the investment. If you care about the shots use anything, just learn some technique.

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