I got really lucky when I picked up this all-black Konica C35 Automatic for just $30. They normally go for three times that. It’s a competent camera but lacks the je ne sais quoi of other small 35mm rangefinder cameras, as I explain in my refreshed review here.
I asked a lot of my Konica C35 Automatic — probably too much, shooting it mostly at and beyond dusk as I did. Late afternoon sun was the best light I gave it. That’s what happens when you shoot mostly after work in late autumn. Given that this autoexposure camera forces wide apertures and slow shutter speeds in dim light, I risked softness and camera shake nearly every time I pressed the shutter button.
Let’s look first at a couple late-afternoon photos. This lens has a character that, to my eye, enhances the film’s grain. It’s a pleasing effect, but it does rob images of a little sharpness.
But as I said, it’s quite pleasant. It could be put to excellent use for the right subject.
The C35 struggled with reflected light. The late-afternoon sun cast this black fence with a delicious glow. I’d admired it for several days on my drive home from work, and this day with the C35 in my pocket I stopped to photograph it. This isn’t a bad shot, especially after I toned down the highlights in Photoshop. It just doesn’t capture the scene’s warmth. I own cameras that could have captured that glow. Of course, those cameras are large, heavy, and complicated compared to the C35.
I made this photo in downtown Fishers on a cloudy afternoon. I focused on the front bench. Shooting Fujicolor 200 in this light, the camera chose a wider aperture and softened the background just a bit, to a pleasing degree.
I was lucky to pick up this little rangefinder camera for about 30 bucks a few years ago, as they routinely go for up to $100 in online auctions. While this camera is pleasant enough to use, I couldn’t remotely justify trading a C-note for one.
I gave the C35 some challenging assignments, such as this light sculpture inside the lobby of the office building where I work. I made a similar shot here with my Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 on Tri-X earlier this year. I like it better. See it here.
I was downtown for a work-related event and had the C35 in my coat pocket. The event wrapped late. I wondered if the spotlight illuminating this sign provided enough light for a photograph. It did.
Of course, it’s hard to focus a rangefinder camera in the dark. I love how the C35 rendered the light within the bells of this clock tower, but man, I wish I hadn’t muffed focus.
If you’d like to see more photos from this camera, check out my Konica C35 Automatic gallery here.
My experience shooting this camera was pleasant enough. It’s certainly a breeze to use: in Auto mode it is a focus-and-shoot camera. But as I shot it, I couldn’t shake a strong feeling that if I kept it, I’d probably never shoot it again. I own other capable compacts that I just like better.
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Through the construction
Konica C35 Automatic
Fishers, Indiana, is under construction.
Its downtown is, anyway. Ten years ago there were a few old commercial buildings by the railroad track and a bunch of low houses. Today the houses are all gone, and modern urban density is going in.
Soon this photograph won’t be possible; a building will be in the way.
A view that soon won’t exist anymore, as soon as the building they’re building here is built.
Ever since I started collecting cameras again, a Konica C35 has been on my must-buy list. Everybody seems to really like this little autoexposure rangefinder 35mm camera. When I went shopping for one I found a Konica C35 Automatic, a 1971 successor to the original 1968 C35.
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.
The Automatic 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.
The 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 Konica C35 Automatic 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 you attach a flash, 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.
By the way, if you like little rangefinder cameras like this one, also check out my reviews of the Canon Canonet QL17 G-III (here), the Olympus XA (here), the Canon Canonet 28 (here), and the Olympus 35RC (here). If you’re a Konica fan, I’ve also reviewed the Auto S2 (here) and the Autoreflex T3 (here). Check out all of my camera reviews here.
Sunny days seldom come 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.
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.
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. 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.
The C35’s lens has a rep for good contrast, 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. The photo below is detail from around one of the doors; it turned out all right.
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.
On another outing I loaded more Fujicolor 200. It was autumn, as you can see. The C35 handled well enough. This isn’t a luxury camera; the controls don’t have a luxury feel. But everything comes together in the images.
Low autumn afternoon sun caused this black fence to glow on my commute home, so I pulled over one evening to capture it. The fence slats blew out, which is what happens when you aim a (probably) center-weighted meter at a scene and hope for the best, as I did.
I thought surely this challenging light situation would be more than the C35 could handle, but it returned a delightful result.
Check out my entire Konica C35 Automatic gallery here.
I enjoyed the C35 Automatic’s easy usability. I like it better than the Olympus 35RC, but not as much as my Canonet QL17 G-III. The Canonet is so dear to me that I can’t see myself shooting the C35 very often. What a wealth of great gear we have when an entirely competent and pleasant camera like this doesn’t clear the bar to become a regular user.