Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Low Tech Wonder - Konica C35 Rangefinder

Konica C35
Photo Attribution: Lewis Collard
Looking at this camera, you may wonder why it made it under the "Low Tech Wonder" label, rather than into my "Skeletons From The Closet" series. The answer is simple, and it has to do with the little badge on the front of the camera that reads "automatic." Produced in 1968, the Konica C35 has many makings of a great little rangefinder camera, and in some ways, it is. However, being automatic, the camera selects both your f-stop and shutter speed for you. Even though the Hexanon 38mm f2.8 lens is really nice and sharp, this automatic "feature" turns the camera into a point (focus) and shoot camera. I couldn't live with that lack of flexibility for a month of shooting.
My C35 came from an antique shop in Ohio (thanks to Mom!). It took some disassembly, lighter fluid, and a new battery to get it working again. I was concerned that the exposure may be off, as the little indicator that shows the combination of shutter speed and f-stop didn't seem to change enough as I changed the ASA setting. But, I decided to try it out. I shot a roll of drug store iso 200 color print film at a local civil war historic site, the Mount Zion Church in Aldie, Virginia.
(Click Here) to read more about the Mount Zion Historic Park in Aldie.
Here are my results:
The shot above is my favorite from the roll.
I find the gravestone above quite creepy.
So, what are my impressions of the Konica C35? First, bitingly sharp lens, as I've come to expect from Konica. Second, the exposure seems to be pretty much spot on, at least within the latitude of color print film. I didn't try a really wide range of exposures, but this lighting level seemed to work just fine. So, what I think I've got here is a slightly less compact version of an Olympus XA, with perhaps even better image quality and definitely better rangefinder focusing, but sadly no overexposure switch like the XA has. Not bad, not bad at all. Now if it only had manual exposure override. Then I would carry it around for a month.