The Canon QL19 review in 2019

Canon QL19, taken by the Fuji X-Pro2 with the 60mm f/2.4 macro

Canon QL19, taken by the Fuji X-Pro2 with the 60mm f/2.4 macro

The Poor man’s Leica

Already six months with the Leica QL 19. I carried it from Southeast-Asia to South Africa to South America to North America within the last six months: It’s been holding off effectively (as in, it’s not falling apart).

It’s surely one heck of a nice rangefinder, albeit severely underrated.. It’s my backup-backup-backup camera. The leaf shutter is among the quietest ever. This is definitely the perfect journalist camera: it’s cheap, durable, reliable, doesn’t get in the way, and looks sexy as hell in stainless steel body.

With a ISO 400 film, set the focus to infinity and just shoot. The camera will be between f/5.6 and f/11, in daylight. It has two modes: Aperture-priority and manual. I left it in Aperture-priority mode ever since its purchase.

No need of a $1500 Leica M3: The 45mm f/1.9 front lens is all you’ll ever need.

It weights 620 grams for a small 120 x 75 x 60 mm package.


Pros and cons

Well, there are the obvious: the small size, the silent leaf shutter, the look, and high optical quality of the 45mm f/1.9. And then the less obvious: The way this camera will force you to slowdown (terrible focusing lens…) and get even more creative than a SLR (like my F5, reviewed in 2019 here).

The cons are few: the terrible focusing screen (very hard to nail the focus, but do-able) and the limited 1/500 exposure time. It means that, without any density filter, you’ll have to close it down to f/16 at ISO 200 in a sunny day. Don’t forget your density filter at home and you’ll be good to go.

Here’s a sample from my first roll of film, shot in Singapore:

Canon QL 19 review Canon QL 19 review Canon QL 19 review Canon QL 19 review Canon QL 19 review Canon QL 19 review Canon QL 19 review

The Canon QL 19 is the perfect camera for traveling around the world. I think that it would be a killer combo, when packed with a X-Pro2 and a prime lens.

There’s no sensor, so image quality can’t be discussed too much…the sensor is the film, so make sure to throw an awesome 35mm roll inside to get great result. I found that the meter is accurate, but tend to be slightly underexposing shots. The remedy is to over-exposed by a stop or two. Contrary to digital photography, film photography deals better with over-exposing shots than the other way around. Hell, one could over-exposed by 4-5 shots and still get a great picture.

This camera made me fall back in love with photography. I think that I will stick to my Nikon F5 tho: I struggled too much focusing with the QL 19 with my bad eye sight. With the current price of film and development in Canada, I can’t afford to miss too many shots because of bad focusing. But other than that, f/8 and be there is the motto of the day for any photographer using the QL 19.

I am selling it tomorrow, for I have too many cameras and the QL 19 isn’t perfect for my need (as mentioned above). I am afraid that I will miss it…If it is even just to look at it on my desk, dressed in a brushed steel body that reminds me of the wandering I’ve done in the street of Cape Town or Singapore.

Thank you for the read, hope to see you soon!