Cameras, Photography

Canon A35F

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This is the last of the Canonets.

Canon A35F

Don’t let it bother you that the Canonet name is nowhere to be found on this camera. It’s a Canonet, all right, based on the 1971 Canonet 28. It shares the Canonet 28’s 40mm f/2.8 lens, of five elements in four groups. Like the 28, it accepts film from 25 to 400 ASA. I wouldn’t be surprised if it also shares the 28’s rangefinder mechanism.

Canon A35F

It differs from the Canonet 28 in three key areas, however. First, its range of apertures and shutter speeds is different, running from 1/60 sec. at f/2.8 to 1/320 sec. at f/20 (versus 1/30 sec. at f/2.8 to 1/620 sec. at f/14.5 on the 28). Third, and most importantly, the A35F offers a built-in flash. When you slide the flash button on the back, the flash pops out of the top. The mechanism made it necessary to revise the film transport, which resulted in a film door that doesn’t span the back.

Canon A35F

The flash made it necessary to move the film rewind mechanism as well. A little crank pops out of the top. The focus ring also differs from the Canonet 28, as does the way you set ASA. But when you hold this camera in your hands, it feels and acts like any Canonet.

Rangefinder cameras were on the wane in 1978 when Canon issued the A35F. The SLR had caught fire and there was no going back. But there was a market for compact cameras that offered casual photographers lots of features, easy usability, and good lenses. Canon probably figured that if they added a built-in flash to the Canonet 28 they could have a sales winner, at least until they could roll out their first autofocus and autoexposure camera with built-in flash, the similarly named AF35M. You might know that camera better as the Sure Shot. It came out in 1979.

The A35F needs two batteries – a dreaded, banned 625 mercury cell to drive the light meter and an everyday AA battery for the flash. I have a bunch of zinc-air 675 hearing-aid batteries here – they aren’t as big around as the 625, but they’re almost as thick and the voltage is close enough. I slipped one into the A35F, and glory be, it worked. A couple of times during my test roll (Fujicolor 200) I found the shutter button stuck, meaning the battery had lost contact. I popped the battery out and pushed it back in, and I was good to go. This wouldn’t do if I were going to shoot this camera all the time, but it was fine for my test roll.

I took the A35F along on a trip to Chicago, but this was the only photo from there that I liked.

Pagoda

I had better luck on an early-evening drive along the Michigan Road. This is my favorite shot from the roll, from Sycamore Row near the little town of Deer Creek. This is an old alignment of the road, in service through the 1980s. The sycamore trees made for a narrow passage.

Sycamore Row

This abandoned school sits just off the Michigan Road along State Road 26. I wrote about it a long time ago; read about it here. I hate that it’s being allowed to deteriorate.

Abandoned school

I imagine that whoever owns the farm behind the school also owns the school.

Farm scene

Here’s the obligatory shot of my shed. Speaking of deterioration, the hole at the bottom of that one door is getting worse. Compare it to past shed shots here. I really need to do something about it.

Shed

I slipped a double-A battery into the A35F and took a couple of photos inside. The flash system is smart enough to read exposure and the set focus distance and set the flash voltage to match. I was lukewarm about its performance, though. Here’s my dog Gracie. On the shelf you can see two of my folding Kodaks, the Monitor Six-20 and the Junior Six-16 Series II.

Gracie at home

Maybe I was too close to my subjects. Maybe this flash does better lighting up group shots. This is the desk where I write this blog. My everyday camera, a Canon PowerShot S95, is always on my desk ready to go. My giant No. 3A Autographic Kodak is in the corner on one of my two Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1s.

My desk

See the rest of the photos that turned out in my Canon A35F gallery.

If you told me the A35F was the only camera I could own, I could deal with it. Its usability isn’t quite as flawless as my Canonet QL17 G-III, but I’d adapt to it after a few rolls. The flash would be fine for what I’d use it for: birthday and Christmas photos indoors. My biggest complaint with the A35F is that the film door latch is hard to work. But I was very happy with the sharpness and color I got, and that is the bottom line for me with any camera.

Do you like old cameras? Then check out my entire collection.

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42 thoughts on “Canon A35F

  1. Brandon Campbell says:

    Looking good! I’d definitely consider one of these if I was in the market for another vintage rangefinder. Which would you say is easier to focus, this or the Olympus XA?

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  2. Jim,

    I call this the “son of Canonet”. It’s a dependable little camera.

    This weekend someone asked me to name my favorite garage sale camera. The first one that came to mind was my Canon A35F.

    I’ve included my Canon A35F write-up if that’s OK.

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  3. N.S. Palmer says:

    Beautiful! Refresh my memory (if I ever knew it in the first place): What’s aperture-priority exposure?

    I remember the Sure Shot. I didn’t know that it had such a distinguished lineage.

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    • Aperture priority is where you set the aperture, and the camera reads the light and sets the shutter speed appropriately to get a good exposure.

      The AF35M was the first of a long line of Sure Shots. Many later Sure Shots were just junk cameras, but the AF35M was, by all accounts, a decent performer. I have had two but both of them have had broken winding motors and were thus useless.

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    • Thanks for the links! Heh, I see I commented on one of those when you posted it. I enjoyed using the A35F but wished for my Canonet QL17’s better handling. It was hard for me to judge this camera solely on its own merits because it shares the Canonet body and the QL17 is such a wonderful camera.

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  4. I don’t think that I have seen this camera before. I imagine that whatever sells it had must have dried up once the auto focus ones came out. Still it looks like it had a good Canon lens. I also do that thing where I try to imagine what I would think if the camera I am testing was my only camera.

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    • Put some batteries in it and wind it and see if the shutter fires. If it does, then go buy a roll of film and shoot it. When the film comes back from the processor, you’ll see how well it works.

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  5. Hi, you mention the Canonet 28 had aperture priority and unfortunately that is false.

    The aperture setting was for when you used an attached flash. It would set the camera to a fixed 1/30th speed. No matter if you chose f/2.8 or f/16 the shutter would always be 1/30 because that was the flash sync speed.

    I owned a 28(along with a QL7 and the original 19) and loved it, unfortunately I gave it away to a friend so I’m looking to replace it with a a35f since I love the black on black!

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      • Hi, No it’s not shutter priority either. The 28 is just full auto with the option of choosing the aperture when a hot shoe flash is mounted. Which then sets the shutter to a fixed 1/30 to sync with the flash. You then set the aperture to how far away the subject was, because the flash didn’t have any automation you compensated by setting an appropriate aperture. Closer the subject the smaller the aperture to compensate the exposure. It was really an odd thing.

        The Canonet 17 and 19 do offer shutter priority but the Canonet 28 does not.

        by the way I got the a35f and I’m loving it so far!

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  6. Javier Restrepo says:

    Hi, I’m from Colombia. Well, i’ve got my grandpa’s camera and I would like to know if it works. Does not have any battery but I mean, if you press the button has to make any sound or something? Or only by having the battery inside the camera? Almost forgot, it’s the 675 battery, not the AA just in case. Hope you could help me because I really want to use this camera, my grandfather died due to a gastric cancer, so it would be like a good memorie shooter. By the way, sorry if my English is not good. Haha. Anyway, It would be awesome if you help me in this, or if you want to get my email or something to explain me better, i won’t have any problem to provide it.

    Sincerelly, Javier.

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    • I’m sorry that you lost your grandfather. Your best option is to buy a 675 alkaline or silver-oxide battery and see if the camera turns on, and when you press the button the shutter fires. If so, then buy some film and get shooting. This is how I test out an old camera; it’s the only way I know.

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  7. Javier Restrepo says:

    Hi, it’s me again. So, I get the battery and averything was ok. The only issues are 2: when I’m going to “charge” the roll in order to shoot (sorry, I don’t know how to say it better) it stucks. I don’t know why or even if the camera ir broken or aomrhing.

    The other problem is the flash, I put an AA battery but it does not shoot the flash I don’t know why.

    Hope you can help me in this.

    Sincerely, Javier.

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  8. Javier Restrepo says:

    Hi buddy, it’s been a while, uh?

    I wanted to tell you a massive thank you because without your help I’d never use my camera. It’s running perfectly at all.

    I would like you to tell me about the lens cap, as you know the battery rains faster if you do not protect the ligth cell, so I was look for some information on internet but I could not find any. So doy you know what type of cap should I use?
    Where can I find it.
    Can you give me the dimensions in order to start looking in my city?

    I’m awared to your response, Javier.

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  9. Javier says:

    Can this camera take photos without using the flash? I don’t know why, but sometimes I can and sometimes not.
    I mean, using the flash you can take all you want, but without using it, the carger is kind of stuck, same with the shoot button

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  10. Javier says:

    Hi Jim, I’m so sorry to bothering you too much. I searched on internet and found that it coul be the shutter is stucked. But as I told you, when using the flash it fires as well.

    The problem is when I try to take a photo without using the flash.
    So, why would it happens?

    I’m not able to find a person who knows a lot about this because I live in Colombia, so as you might know haha, it’s to hard.
    I need to change seals, yes of course, but when using the flash it takes the photo.
    When I try to take a photo without it, the shutter stucks.

    Help me please, I really want to use this camera because it belongs to my passed away granpa, so it’s the only thing he left me.

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    • Hi Javier! It surely would be wonderful to restore your grandfather’s camera and be able to use it.

      Unfortunately, I’m not a repair expert, From here, it sounds like you need to disassemble the lens assembly to get at the shutter, and then lubricate it. But I don’t know how to do that. I am puzzled by the flash problem and can’t imagine what’s going on there.

      You might seek one of the camera forums, such as rangefinderforum.com, and ask the people there for help.

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  11. Owen Stewart says:

    Is there some kind of trick in getting the light meter battery out of the camera and is it necessary for the camera to run?

    Like

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