Treasures: Canonet QL17

I love cameras, even though I have never bothered to learn much about the gadgets themselves. I’m only fascinated in the ability to capture moments that I will later hold in my hand trying to remember the joke, the question, the essence of the what was happening in that freeze frame. If I don’t take pictures, how on earth will I remember it all? Because memories are evasive and taking notes all the time can be perceived as peculiar behavior… but with a camera in hand, I am constantly documenting. Better yet, I am building an archive that allows me to reconstruct my life. Creepy thought? I think so too.

I owned a few cameras when I was growing up (including the INCREDIBLE Polaroid i-Zone). and I spent a fortune on developing film after film. Confession: I was the subject of most of my photographs. I would perch the camera on the edge of the sofa, click the timers and race to the other side of the room where I had 2.5 seconds to strike a pose. And not any old pose; my signature pose. Calm, cool, collected (maybe even slightly bored), no braces visible, hair smoothed back. This, I told myself, is how I would look walking on the red carpet one day. This is the pose I’ll give ‘em when I receive that Oscar.

When I was not playing with my cameras and envisioning my sparkling future as an uncompromising director, I was trying desperately to get my hands on my mother’s Canon and her camcorder. Those, were real. And I took them very seriously. When I took my camera to school, everybody wanted to be in my pictures. I was either a good photographer or my friends were really vain. But around 2002, my cameras suddenly became bleak and unattractive; everybody and their puppy now had a digital camera!

I was resentful of those little gadgets, making photography so easy. Click, delete, click, brighter, click, find smile. Seriously? It took me a couple of years to cave in and buy my first Sony Cyber-Shot. And then another one. Recently, though I invested in a Canon T2i that seems to be just right (like Baby Bear’s porridge, chair and bed ). Not too complicated that I’d have to take classes, but not as simple as your average point and shoot. I have been obsessed with my T2i this past year…that is until I received an unexpected gift this Thursday. My late grandfather’s Canon.

Canon QL Fatmah I had just received a package from UPS with my new lens, tripod and a backpack. I was tearing through the wrappers and showing my grandmother and aunts my treasures. They said I reminded them of my grandfather, he loved taking pictures. I was really surprised because I don’t remember this. He passed away when I was around 11 and for the longest time we didn’t talk about him at all because we couldn’t handle the loss. It was too soon. “Do you want to see one of his cameras? It doesn’t work though.”

I was astounded. OF COURSE I WANT TO SEE IT! My aunt disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a solid Canonet QL17, in a beautiful leather case. I immediately looked up the model. The Canonet QL1 7 was produced in 1969 in Japan.

These compact little cameras [the Canonets] are known for their sophistication and performance. All of them are equipped with a large-aperture (f/1.7 to f/2.8, varying by model) fixed focal lens, solid construction, and bright viewfinders.

My grandmother said I could keep the camera because even if I could not get it to work, I’d appreciate it more than anyone else in the family. I was ecstatic. This made my week (and oh what a rough week it had been)! I completely forgot about my new camera gear as I explored my treasure, the Canonet.

I am thrilled to have this camera because it was owned by my grandfather, my role model. I often wish he was still around because I feel like he would understand me. He passed away over a decade ago but I still have vivid dreams about visiting him and having lengthy conversations over tea. In every dream he seems relaxed, confident and serene. In every dream he tells me to stop being so tense, that everything will work out. believe him.

Canonet Fatmah Fscribbles

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