Camera Reviews

Canon Canonet Junior

Sometimes I come upon a camera for cheap and just can’t resist buying it, even if it’s not on my want list. So it went with this 1963 Canon Canonet Junior.

Canon Canonet Junior

Really, I’ll buy any Canonet I don’t already have if the price is right. Canon made 13 Canonet models from 1961 to 1982 and they all feature good lenses. You can hardly go wrong with a Canonet – well, except that most of them have gummy light seals that need to be replaced.

All Canonets feature a coupled light meter. Junior’s meter is of selenium (it’s behind that bumpy plastic ring around the lens), so it needs no battery. Most Canonets also include a coupled rangefinder and shutter-priority autoexposure, but not the Canonet Junior, which offers guess focusing and full autoexposure. You can set aperture manually if you want, but it’s really meant only to be done when a flash is attached, as the shutter fires only at 1/30 sec. then.

Canon Canonet Junior

Junior isn’t junior sized, but to be fair it’s marginally smaller and lighter than the original 1961 Canonet. It features a 40mm f/2.8 lens, of four elements in three groups. There are better lenses in the Canonet line, but this one is good enough. Junior’s leaf shutter fires from 1/30 to 1/250 sec. You can dial in film speeds up to only 200 ASA, limiting Junior’s usefulness in low light.

The Canonet Junior was sold as the Bell and Howell/Canon Canonet 28 in the US.

If you’re a Canonet fan, you might also enjoy my reviews of the Canonet QL 17 G-III (here) and Canonet 28 (here). Other rangefinder cameras I’ve reviewed include the Yashica MG-1 (here), the Konica Auto S2 (here), and the Minolta Hi-Matic 7 (here). Check out all of my camera reviews here.

I opened my Junior to find an expired and partially spent roll of Kodak Gold 200 film inside. Naturally, that fogged several frames. I quickly shot the rest of the roll, which amounted to maybe eight exposures, and sent it off to Dwayne’s for processing. The thrill of found film is not knowing what you’ll get back from the processor. Last time I got a family’s late-1960s vacation to Niagara Falls. This time the subjects were far less interesting.

Found film

Several shots involved this downed tree. This shot shows that the lens yields sharp and contrasty results.

Found film - tree down

Kodak Gold film has been made for long enough that this Christmas tree could be from the 1990s.

Found film - It's not such a bad tree

I blew through the rest of the roll in 20 minutes in my yard. Junior was easy enough to use: set the aperture ring to Auto and twist the focus ring until the needle inside the viewfinder points to the right setting: portrait, group, or landscape. But watch the shutter-speed needle inside the viewfinder; if it’s in the red, there’s too much or too little light for the shot. My Junior’s viewfinder is foggy but usable. The shutter button is stuck down but a little pressure on it fires the shutter anyway. If I were to use this camera regularly, I’d fix these problems. But I’m not, so I won’t.

This is the best of my photos. This frame was inside the film canister when I opened the camera, so it wasn’t fogged. Those red streaks suggest a wicked light leak.

Fairway tree

This is my street, from the end of my driveway.

Down the street

This shot of a chair on my deck is my favorite because of the wacky colors.


No amount of Photoshopping could save that chair from the orange. But I was able to remove a strong purple caste from this image of my shed.

My shed

You can see all of the photos that turned out (and I use that phrase loosely) in my Canon Canonet Junior gallery.

I’m not usually an expired-film kind of guy, but this was fun. I doubt I’ll shoot this camera again, though. I have many better choices in my collection for an easy afternoon’s shooting, and those cameras don’t need repairs.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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17 thoughts on “Canon Canonet Junior

  1. Jim,

    I do enjoy the Canon Canonets. And what a surprise when the selenium meter still works.

    Your expired photo of the “downed tree” gives your readers a glimpse at the capabilities of the fine lenses on the Canon Canonets.

    My Canon A35F doesn’t have a selenium meter, but it’s still one of my favorite $5 cameras:

    Thanks as always for your blog.


    • I’ve found that when I buy a camera with a selenium meter, and the camera was stored such that the meter was covered, the meter almost always still works.

  2. Steve Miller says:

    Do hope at least some of that big oak was milled for lumber, rather than chunked for firewood.

  3. I like that chair photo too. I think Canon has always had good quality control. I haven’t ever used one of their products that was less than I would have expected it to be. Haven’t had any luck with found film this year so far.

    • Agreed — every Canon product I’ve owned has been a reliable performer. My everyday camera is a Canon PowerShot S95 digital camera, and I enjoy using it greatly.

  4. Matt says:

    I’ve just got one of these and I’m not sure how it works. Should the aperture blades move when you turn the dial without film? Does the shutter fire without film?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated, there’s nothing on the internet about these cameras.

    • The camera should function without film. There’s nothing about the presence of a 35mm cartridge that makes anything happen in this camera. So if you’re not able to fire the shutter or move the aperture blades, it suggests the camera might be broken.

      • Matt says:

        The shutter wouldn’t fire without film but I loaded it up last night with film and it started firing the shutter. Took a few shots and fiddled with the aperture control. Very hard to see the meter inside though. But seemed to fire and work fine.

        Then tried to take a photo this morning and the shutter wouldnt fire again. I had it in its case all night and was taking the photo from the car. I’ve heard things about letting the selenium meter charge up in light for a little while first?

        • Sounds like you’ve got one with some issues, unfortunately. There’s nothing in a selenium meter to charge up – it should simply always be ready.

  5. Matt says:

    Not actually charge up, but maybe see a little light before shooting. It is in really good condition and has been restored, and I was assured it was working. Maybe I didn’t wind the film lever the whole way this morning, I’ll see how I go. I just think I’m doing something wrong atm.

    • These are simple cameras and there’s not much to go wrong short of a faulty meter or a stuck shutter. But I hope you’ll keep at it and share your results when you get some.

  6. Matt says:

    Seems like all is working well again, I found a manual online. I mustn’t of wound the film lever all the way yesterday. Looking forward to the results. Thanks for your help.

  7. Rhianah says:

    I just bought this camera, I’ve never used a film camera before and thought i could learn/ play using this one, but I’m not sure what type of film to use, is it 35mm?

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