Film Camera Reviews
Updated March 2018
The Konica C35 is a compact rangefinder camera from the Sixties. It shoots 35mm film. I'm here to tell you why I like this camera so much.
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In This Article
Lens & Focusing
Known Problems / Repair Issues
Cheap But Goes Everywhere
Aperture Range: f/2.8-14 (auto only)
Batteries: PX625 mercury (use zinc-air 675 hearing aid battery instead)
Exposure Control: Automatic
Film Advance: Manual
Film Rewind: Manual
Filter Size: 46mm
Flash: hotshoe with PC sync connector
Flash Sync: 1/25th sec.
ISO / ASA Range: 25-400, manually set. Includes some intermediate speeds such as 32, 64, and 320.
Lens: fixed 38mm Konica Hexanon 1:2.8
Manual Exposure Modes: No
Made In: Japan
Metering / Exposure: CdS / Automatic
Minimum Focus Distance: 1 meter
Shutter Speeds: Bulb; 1/30th to 1/650th sec.
Viewfinder: Coupled rangefinder
Weight: 13 ounces
Years of Manufacture: 1967-'68; slight variations ("C35 Auto", etc.) were made for years afterward
Zoom Range: none
A Journey Back, But For The Arrows Of Time
Superia 100 rated at 64
6D macro capture
As you look through the viewfinder, the bright-line rectangle is your image frame. (It's easy to forget this and think the whole viewfinder area is your image.)
If you're accustomed to setting your aperture and shutter speed, this camera may throw you. They're set automatically. The shutter and aperture blades are combined. The meter needle shows combinations of settings, like "60 / 2.8" and "125 / 4".
Aside from the focus, you don't have to set anything except the ASA / DIN number. For those of you who don't remember cameras with ASA setting, that's the ISO number or film speed.
The camera was designed for a 1.3V mercury battery. The 675 zinc-air hearing aid batteries, which most everyone uses instead, are 1.4 volts. This causes the meter to register higher than it would, making the camera "think" there's more light than there really is. Result? If you set the camera at the "box speed" of your particular film, the pictures will be too dark.
The fix is easy. With zinc-air hearing aid batteries, ISO 100 film should be rated at ASA 64. For Portra 160 I'd set the camera at ASA 100.
If you're going to shoot 400 neg film, I'd probably rate it at ASA 200, although 320 might be OK. To be able to use the camera's ASA 400 setting without underexposing the pictures, you'll probably have to use Superia 800.
In any case, go ahead and develop at the box speed. No push or pull processing involved; just let your film lab use the DX coding on the film canister and everything will be OK. So if you shoot Superia 800 at 400 in this camera, just get it developed as regular 800 film.
I have yet to try slide film in the Konica C35. Velvia 100 would probably be good at ASA 64. For Velvia 50, I'd try setting it to ASA 32. (If you want the deepest colors with either, just shoot at box speed and the 1.4V battery will cause underexposed slides.)
Thes shots on this page were taken with color negative film.
Fuji Superia 100 rated at 64
6D macro capture
There is something very cool about shooting film at ASA 64. What does that remind me of? Ah, yes... Kodachrome 64.
The zinc-air batteries don't last as long as regular batteries. Keep the lens cap on when you're not using the camera, and you should get at least a couple of months per battery.
The C35's light metering is pretty simple. There's a galvanometer (the meter needle) in series with a CdS photoresistor.
That means if you use a battery with higher voltage than expected, the meter will think there's more light than there really is. So you'll get photos that are underexposed.
Zinc-air batteries are supposed to be 1.35 volts, just like mercury batteries. Like the mercury batteries, the zinc-air do have a good flat voltage curve. The Konica C35 requires this. But there seems to be a slight voltage difference with zinc-air. Some are 1.4V, some even 1.45V. If you REALLY want to do this right, and not waste a bunch of film, here's an idea. Get a good digital multimeter that can accurately measure DC voltage to within 0.01 volt (10 mV) without voltage-dropping the battery. Test the batteries you're planning to use.
Look for ones that are 1.35V.
The pictures will be increasingly underexposed, the more voltage there is. 1.4V batteries, a little bit. 1.55V batteries, quite a bit more.
Another possibility is to select a Schottky diode with forward voltage drop of exactly 0.2V. Put that in series with the positive wire that goes from the battery holder to the rest of the circuit. This will drop the voltage 0.2 volts, so you can use silver oxide batteries instead of zinc-air.
Lens & Focusing
The Konica Hexanon 38mm f/2.8 lens is sharp. There's a little bit of corner softness at wider apertures. Also noted: some chromatic aberration ("purple fringeing") toward the edges of the picture, but mainly in high-contrast scenes. Neither of these is really that significant.
I've never noticed any vignetting (corner darkening) with this lens, but I haven't tested it against a blank white background. Just for comparison, the Yashica Electro 35 displays obvious vignetting, though it's only at the extreme corners.
Update: As I should have expected, yes there is some corner darkening when the camera chooses the widest apertures. Most cameras have this property.
The C35's focus throw is not exactly fast, but that's normal for rangefinders. When the transparent images are perfectly superimposed, your shot is in focus. A properly-working rangefinder will give images just as sharp as any SLR.
Bulb ("B") allows you to take night pictures on a tripod. Hold the shutter button as long as you want. Aperture is set to f/2.8 in Bulb mode.
Flash Mode: turn the flash symbol (lightning bolt with arrow) to line up with the Guide Number (G.N.), and the camera will choose the correct aperture for that flash setting.
Flash Sync is activated when anything is plugged into the hot shoe. The shutter speed becomes 1/25th of a second. Hold that camera still!
I haven't tried this camera with a hotshoe light meter (because it's not necessary), but one of these would probably make the camera use 1/25th, as well.
I have, however, used this camera with an old Minolta flash unit, set to Manual, and everything worked great.
Known Problems / Repair Issues
The CdS photocell (photoresistor) can go bad. When they fail shorted, meter goes high; camera thinks there's light when there's not. When they lose sensitivity, meter goes low; camera thinks there's less light than there is. (Keep the lens cap on your C35 when you're not using it. If your camera doesn't have one, this 46mm one is what I use).
When CdS photoresistors work, the ohms decrease with brighter light. If the light meter goes haywire (back and forth), there could be a loose connection or an intermittent short somewhere.
This camera is pretty much unusable without its light meter, because that meter also controls the aperture and shutter speed. (Automatic camera, remember?)
The original C35's don't have many electronic parts. So there's not much else electronic to go bad (just mechanical). The majority of Konica C35 light meter problems are from a broken wire or bad connection. This can be caused by battery corrosion. This is probably the #1 repair issue, aside from stuck shutters or mechanisms.
Very common but frustrating: the lens retainer ring can be stuck. You'll need a precision-machined spanner wrench. The tips have to fit the notches precisely. I've so far encountered a few C35's where I could not get the retainer ring off, but that's probably because I didn't have the exact spanner tool. If this happens to you, consider professional repair. It's better to pay the money and get it done right than to wreck this classic camera with the wrong tools.
As with many of these old rangefinders, the light seals can deteriorate. They're usually gummed up pretty thoroughly. If the foam looks bad, you can either replace the seals or else just seal the back with electrical tape when you have film in the camera. (I learned that trick from using a Holga...)
I would not leave deteriorated seals in this camera. Bits of material can get into the mechanisms.
Check your focus. The rangefinder images should line up on a distant object when you have the focus ring set to infinity. Same for every other old rangefinder.
C35 Automatic (1971) - Hexanon 38mm f/2.8 lens. Rangefinder. Identical to the C35 but has better auto flash control. The "AUTO" setting was moved onto the other lens-barrel ring so you could line it up with one of the flash guide number settings. Like the C35, the C35 Automatic requires an external flash unit.
C35 V (a.k.a. C35 E&L) (1971) - Hexanon 38mm f/2.8 lens. Zone focus. (Not a rangefinder.) Same shutter speed range as the C35, but shutter has only 2 blades, like the Olympus RC. The C35 V lacks a self-timer. No built-in flash; requires an external flash unit. This is the second-least-desirable of the C35 series.
C35 FD (a.k.a. Auto S3) (1973) - Hexanon 38mm f/1.8 lens. Rangefinder with shutter-priority exposure mode. Built-in flash. Can use 800 film. This is the one that "everyone" seems to want.
C35 EF (1975) - Hexanon 38mm f/2.8 lens. Zone focus. (Not a rangefinder.) Built-in flash. Shutter speeds limited to 1/60 and 1/125. Limited shutter speed selection, combined with zone focusing, make this probably the least-desirable model. It's got only slightly more capability than a toy camera, although it does have a good lens.
C35 AF (1977) - Hexanon 38mm f/2.8 lens. Autofocus. Built-in flash. Shutter speeds limited to 1/60, 1/125, 1/250. Wikipedia claims the C35 AF to have a fixed aperture, but I believe it actually does f/2.8 through f/22. I know the C35 AF2 does, anyway. The C35 AF was the world's first AF camera.
Cosina Compact 35E - Cosinon 38mm f/2.7 lens. Very similar to the C35. The ones I've seen have the film advance lever sticking out the back, rather than on top of the camera. Aside from that, the Cosina bears strong resemblance to a Konica C35. That reminds me: many name-brand film cameras, especially today, were actually made by Cosina.
Cheap But Goes Everywhere
I don't normally care for all-auto cameras, but the Konica C35 is inexpensive and small. (By today's standards, it's also very well-made.) It therefore goes a lot of places that you wouldn't even bring another camera. Sure, you could bring that pocket digital, but why bother when you could shoot real film instead? (There is a difference. Actually more than one.)
Just know that if you want to do indoor photography, you're going to have to bring an external flash. This camera doesn't support ASA/ISO 800, and f/2.8 is not that fast a lens. Mainly, this is an outdoor camera.
I like this camera enough that I'd consider buying a second one in case the first one goes bad. I guess that says a lot about it. For sheer capability I'd rather have a Canonet QL17 GIII, but the C35 is simply more affordable, more compact, and in some ways more fun. And the Konica-Hexanon 38mm lens is sharp enough for anything I'd want to do with this camera.
When people pay a lot for cameras, they're looking for rare variants or premium models; the Konica C35 is neither. Don't pay a mint for this camera. There were tons of them manufactured.
If you see a non-working C35, don't pay more than five bucks unless you really need the camera for parts "right this second". Fixing old rangefinders is a lot of work, and there's no guarantee of success. There are a LOT of these cameras that don't work.
Don't pay more than ten dollars for one that has metering problems or any of that. It could cost another $100-$175 to get it professionally overhauled. If the light meter is mechanically bad because someone messed with it, the repairman may have to pull a meter from another camera. Also be careful of ones that are supposedly "untested". You know how that goes.
Fully-working-but-not-overhauled C35's can be had for ten bucks, and usually under twenty. A camera that's working now could have mechanical issues, loose wires, or internal corrosion.
Film-tested and known to meter correctly, but not otherwise serviced... I might pay $40 for a really clean one, as long as there are not bits of light-seal in the camera workings. If it includes the flash and the manual, then perhaps $50 or $60.
Keep in mind that many C35's seem to work, but the metering is incorrect. This may require professional repair. You can compare the meter with a known-good C35, if you have one. Or, film testing the C35 with a 1.4V zinc-air battery, shoot a test roll of 100 slide film at ASA 64; depends on actual battery voltage (see "Battery Voltage", above).
Professionally-overhauled C35's could be $150 to $200, or so. That should include new light seals, accurate metering, CLA, and at least a 30-day warranty. Obviously that's worth more than a random, untested camera.
Unless you leave it out in the rain or something, a refurbished C35 should last for many years.
Is it worth it to pay for repairs on this camera? The C35 was a cheap camera in its day, but it's solidly-built and has a good lens. So I'd say it's worth fixing up.
The Konica C35 is a classic rangefinder that's very handy, despite its auto-only exposure control. On a good day you can pick up a fully-working C35 for anywhere from five to twenty bucks, although really clean, film-tested ones sometimes bring more.
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