This little guy is just about the same as the C35 automatic version, which it predates. Focus is 3.5' to infinity, but your ability to focus the full range changes when you rotate the mode selection ring on the lens mount which has three setting choices: 'auto', 'b', and some GN/feet numbers which you line up with a flash arrow. These settings are fewer than on the flashmatic C35 Auto and they are: 45, 90, 180 which according to the back of the X14 flash correspond to ASA 125 @ 3.3-16 feet, ASA 400 @ 5.6-32 feet, and ASA 800 @ 7.5-32 feet.
Operation is as straightfoward as it gets, set the ASA on a dial in the lens mount face, select 'auto' (most likely), focus and shoot. Meter works (!) on a hearing aid battery 1.4v from Radio Shack, I didn't bother testing with a 1.5v alkaline. Lens is a contrasty coated Hexanon, 4/3 like a Tessar, small glass but sharp and contrasty. Rangefinder has a bright frame finder and parallax marks, and reads out the shutter speed in the viewfinder with a match needle. I noted that on auto the attached flash (in this case a Konica X-14) fired only when the subject was out of range of the internal metering. Nice. I would compare this favorably with any modern point-and-shoot. It's certainly one of the lightest, smallest, quietest, and easy-to-use cameras I've seen. Slips right into a pocket.
I'll note here that having taken both of these apart makes me think they were a relatively low-end camera at the time, as they appear to be rather inexpensively made compared even to other super-similar cameras like the Minolta Hi-Matic E. The build quality is pretty different from my other Konica cameras too, which makes me think that the C35s were probably manufactured under contract by another OEM like Cosina or more likely Chinon. That said, this on is on my short list of favorite cameras to pick up and use, even with the slower lens. I might pick this over the Hi-Matic E based solely on weight and size, though it's hard to say since my Hi-Matic E isn't working properly at this time. As it is, this is often my grab-shot camera, the one I always have on my person when I don't have another camera with me, the one I slip in my pocket or my bag on my way out the door. I've taken some surprisingly nice photos with this little shooter.
I cleaned all the glass, and replaced the light seals. Otherwise it seems in really good shape, minus the filter ring ding.
Tips & Tricks
Lack of control of shutter speed means faster film is better to avoid subject blur in questionable lighting situations. I would stick to 400 unless you're sure your subject is slow-moving, or light is ample.
Replacements for obsolete batteries such as the once-common PX675 (this one) and PX625 can be got at www.photobattery.com or Radio Shack. In this case, the shutter works using a 1.4v zinc air hearing aid battery, $5 for a pack of 8 at Radio Shack, and really how can you beat that?
- Nice page on the C35 at Scott Young's nice site
- Here's some related back-and-forth on the photo.net forum
- If you can read Japanese this has some info (there's a whole Konica collection posted here)
- Mark at Manuals2go has the manual for sale cheap
- batteryguys.com - source for hard-to-find photo batteries