Camera Reviews, Photography

Konica C35 Automatic

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Ever since I started collecting cameras again, the Konica C35 has been on my must-buy list. I was influenced by collectors all over the Internet; everybody seems to really like this little autoexposure rangefinder 35mm camera.

Because the C35 is popular, it often sells for more than my soft $50 limit. Patience over several years paid off recently when I came upon this C35 for about 30 bucks. It was icing on the cake that I found one of the all-black models; the C35’s top plate is more commonly chromed.

Konica C35 Automatic

This is actually a C35 Automatic, a 1971 successor to the original 1968 C35. It added automatic flash synchronization, which fires an attached flash in time with the shutter setting for greater flash versatility. When you attach a flash to a non-Automatic C35, the shutter fires only at 1/25 sec.

Konica C35 AutomaticThe C35’s specs are solid. The lens is a four-element Hexanon, 38mm at f/2.8. The Copal B mat programmed shutter fires from 1/30 to 1/650 sec. Aperture is set by the shutter blades, which means that this autoexposure camera matches lower shutter speeds with larger apertures, and higher shutter speeds with smaller apertures. At the extremes, f/2.8 fires at 1/30 sec, and f/14 at 1/650 sec. The C35 reads light with a CdS meter above the lens. The lens focuses from 3.3 feet. The camera takes film from 25 to 400 ASA,

The C35 is all metal. It weighs under 14 ounces and stands about 4.75 inches wide, 3 inches tall, and 2 inches deep. It’s smaller and lighter than any Canonet and larger and heavier than an Olympus XA, but it’s still plenty light and easy to carry. The protruding lens makes it hard to slip in a front pants pocket, but I had no trouble carrying it in my coat pocket.

The C35 takes a dreaded, banned 625 mercury battery. Mine came with an unmarked battery of the wrong size. It made contact and moved the exposure meter, so I shot with it.

To shoot, press the little button on the bottom of the lens barrel and twist until Auto on the focus ring lines up with any of the numbers on the guide number ring. If a flash is attached, line up Auto with the flash’s guide number. Then twist the little ring right around the lens until your film’s speed appears in the little bubble window below the lens. Wind, frame, make sure the exposure needle inside the viewfinder isn’t in a red zone (indicating over- or under-exposure), twist the focus ring until the rangefinder patch lines up with the subject, and press the button.

Sunny days are few and far between during Indiana winters, yet I wanted to use my C35. So I loaded some Fujicolor 200 and went looking for colorful scenes despite the overcast. I got a lot of oversaturated reds in my test roll.

Mike's Carwash

I drove out to Terre Haute to visit my old friend Michael. This great billboard has stood on the outskirts of town for decades now. The conditions and the camera worked together to make the yellow really pop. I’ve photographed this sign before with far less dramatic results.

Five Minutes to Terre Haute

However, the C35 really washed out this shot, making the yellow wall a dingy white. So I rescued it in Photoshop.

Tofaute & Spelman

I stopped by Terre Haute’s wonderful Indiana Theater for a few snaps. It was built in 1922 in the Spanish Andalusian style. It seats 1,674. Alas, it shows no sign of being in operation, though its Web site is up with photos of this theater’s stunning interior.

Indiana Theater

The C35’s lens is said to be very contrasty, but I wasn’t getting great results from it on this overcast day. In the photo above, everything under the theater awning is a touch underexposed. For the photo below, I stuck the C35 to the door glass to shoot inside. The highlights all blew out. Thankfully, a little Photoshopping lessened the effect.

Inside the Indiana

I saw plenty of movies at the Indiana when I lived in Terre Haute. I’ve never enjoyed the moviegoing experience as much as I did there. This is a detail from around one of the doors.

Indiana Detail

The cold stiffened my hands, which curtailed my photography. So I picked up my friend Michael and headed to Sonka’s, a favorite watering hole. We sat in a front corner by two big windows where the light was sufficient to get this shot. You may remember Michael as the friend who sold me his delightful Pentax KM.

Michael at Sonka's

I loved the C35 Automatic’s easy usability but my test roll returned mixed results. (Check out my entire Konica C35 Automatic gallery here.) People on the photo forums generally say they like 400-speed film in the C35; I shot 200. Maybe the mystery battery that came with my camera wasn’t doing my exposures any favors. And maybe the C35 is simply a better sunny-day camera. I am intrigued enough by this little camera to fiddle with these variables and give it another tumble.

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33 thoughts on “Konica C35 Automatic

  1. Great looking example of that fine little camera which is very similar to my Olympus 35RC. I think of them as the ultimate expression of the classic 35 design, and having just enough automation to ensure results without taking control away from the user. I used to like shooting Kodak’s 400 CN in the Oly, but it has been priced out of my comfort zone in the past few years.


    • The Olympus 35RC is on my list, too. That’s another camera that usually goes for more than I’m willing to pay. I think all things considered I like aperture-priority operation over either full manual or full program, and the C35 is essentially full program.


    • Looking at my older photo of the Clabber Girl sign, I’m thinking it has been redone since then in a brighter yellow. It’s comforting somehow to see it as you enter Terre Haute on US 40.


    • I had high expectations for it that weren’t entirely met, but like I said, perhaps a better choice of film and lighting conditions will help.


      • Well it’s black for $30, I think you got your money worth. And i think like you already noticed, the mystery battery is probably a 1.5V instead of 1.3V, That’d have effect on the meter. But above all, its not TTL, just s cds above the lens, that probably got the most to do with it. By the way, you sure your lab is not an issue? I get very frustrated with bad lab with c41.


        • I’ve had pretty good luck with 1.5V batteries rather than 1.3V in my cameras when I shoot negative film. But you may be onto something with the lab here — the usual lady who runs film wasn’t in, and I got some yahoo who did not appear to fully grasp what he was doing.


        • Maybe we should share our “horror stories” with different labs!! My rule of thumb nowadays, “try not to take your film where they develop and sell tampons at the same time” :D


  2. Looks nice – I’ve just acquired a Yashica 35MF which looks similar in many ways. I’m waiting for some decent B & W film to try in it. I also have a Yashica MG-1 which I believe takes the same battery as your Konica and I managed to ‘make’ a battery using some plastic tube and LR44 cells.


    • Simon, I’d never heard of the 35MF so I went and looked it up. I’ll be keeping an eye open for one of those now. As for the MG-1, I have one as well and it takes a different battery from the Konica C35. I actually bought a battery adapter for mine from that lets me drop in a cell I can easily buy at the drug store. My MG-1 has some rangefinder issues, and when I later found a perfectly working Electro 35 GSN I demoted the MG-1.


  3. Jim — a nice set of images. I love how these unassuming little cameras can surprise people. I once gave a C35 to a student that was going to Uzbekistan for the Peace Corps. She was so disappointed that someone stole it while she was there.


  4. Pingback: Early Days of the Point and Shoot Camera | 6500K

  5. Bob says:

    Re: the washed out dingy white wall. Remember, your camera assumes it is seeing middle gray. If you are shooting a black object or white object, you might try reading from a gray card and locking the exposure. Then you might want to bracket between the two readings (direct reading & reading from gray card.


      • roland says:

        There are a couple of things that might be worth mentioning about the C35. One is that the 1.5v battery will make the light meter think there’s more light than there really is, so I set the iso at 320 instead of 400. With negative film, it’s usually better to give a little extra exposure in any case. You may need to experiment to get your preferred results. On the subject of batteries, SR44 batteries are preferable to LR44’s as they maintain a consistent voltage throughout their lifespan.

        The other thing I wanted to mention is that in my experience, mini-labs don’t tend to be very reliable in their results, so I just have the film developed and then I scan it and do some basic saturation, contrast, and sharpening adjustments to the digital files. I then have a better basis of comparison between different cameras.

        Nice article on a great little camera, by the way!


        • Roland, I’ve had very good luck shooting with the higher-voltage batteries without futzing with ISO. Perhaps it’s because I’m shooting with color print film most of the time and it has good enough exposure latitude. I might not like the results with slide film.

          I’m out of one-hour labs; they’ve all shut down where I live. They weren’t as good as the pro labs I send my film to now, but they were quicker and cheaper!!


  6. Anna V. says:

    Thanks for all the info! I just got a black c35 automatic today for 20€ ($27), with the original leather case. I think there might be a problem with the shutter release, though. I have to lift my finger up immediately after pressing it, otherwise it won’t close at all. Or sometimes it only opens a tiny bit. So I’m guessing I will get a lot of over- and underexposures, unless I decide to try and fix it somehow. Any ideas..? :)


    • Sounds like a sticky shutter. Some people have luck squirting lighter fluid onto the shutter blades, but often that means disassembling the camera to the point where you can access them. That’s usually more than I’m willing to try so I lack experience to guide you.


  7. Eric says:

    I pickup a silver version from 2nd hand market, put in a LR44 battery, the light meter seems responding, but the shutter sounds no big different between 1/650 and 1/30, is this a shutter issue?


    • I tend not to take too much stock in a shutter’s sound at various speeds. I would put a roll of film in and use the camera. The resulting photos will tell you what if anything is wrong with the camera!


  8. nora says:

    Hi Jim –

    Excuse what might seem like silly questions, but I’m shooting with 400 film – do I have to keep ASA at 400? Can I adjust lower/higher in bright/darker conditions or do I have to stick with the film speed I bought? If aperture is 5.6 or greater, how do I “darken” the settings?



    • You can set ASA at a higher or lower level to let more or less light onto the film. People do this sometimes for the interesting facts that you get when you do what is called push or pull processing. But if you want to simply adjust exposure, it’s probably better to just change your f-stop or shutter speed.


  9. I am waiting for my C35 Auto to arrive. I have the silver oxide batteries that I will be using. I agree, that generally with print film, there is no need to futz around with trying to adjust or compensate. However I will be making some comparison readings against a known good meter, an SLR and a DSLR. I may decide to adjust the ISO to compensate.
    With these fully auto cameras, there is no way to change the aperture or shutter speed mechanically, but you can use the trap needle to lock in an exposure. Using a grey card would work, or getting in close to block out the backlight, or, using a finger to shade the cds view until the settings are what you want. If you wanted to reduce the exposure then you could use a flashlight to brighten the cds view. My LED flashlight I carry is bright enough to trick the meter.
    The trap needle exposure system is easy to manipulate if you understand what you want the camera to do. Much easier than trying to fiddle with the ASA settings. :-)


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