Chinon 35EE II

Chinon 35 EE II

click for sample

 


Overview

Where the Chinon 35EE seems like a near carbon-copy of the Konica C35, this little rangefinder doesn’t have much more than size in common with its forerunner than its size. In its features it’s like a scaled-down version of the Yashica Electro, right down to its lens barrel symbols and over-under LEDs.

Chinon 35ee ii Lens

Similar-looking to the 35EE and C35 but with a restyled body, plastic lens barrel, and advanced features like manual aperture and shutter release lock. That and the nice touches like a redesigned wind lever make me think this was aimed at a higher-end market than its predecessor at a time when rangefinders were losing out to AF compacts and SLRs in the marketplace.

Like on some other compact rangefinders, the aperture ring is next to the camera body and the focus ring is on the edge, which I found a little awkward. I missed having the focus tab that makes the C35 such an intuitive little shooter. This 35eeii had some leaky-battery induced electronic problems (see repair section below), but luckily the shutter fires at a default speed (1/500?) and the aperture is manual, so I had no problem taking pics with 400 speed film in daylight even without a working meter (see sample). When the meter is working, the camera utilizes 3 LEDs in the eyepiece to signify under-, over- and correct exposure.

What it lacks: PC sync terminal, manual aperture setting. Other than that it’s a great little shooter! Like its cousins the Chinon 35EE and Konica C35, lens is sharp, contrasty and colorful when stopped down, though soft wide open. Use a flash or fast film in lower light.

Repairs

‘Defrosted’ the battery chamber and adjacent wiring. Corrosion from leaky mercury batteries caused a frostlike growth that literally looked like a freezer that needed defrosting. A Q-tip dipped in vinegar softened the stuff, a toothpick did the rest. Carefully. That revealed the corrosion on the delicate contacts near the battery chamber. I removed the battery chamber (3 screws) and saw that the negative lead to the first of the brass contacts had completely disconnected… on both ends! So with my trusty dental picks I carefully cleaned up the contacts and soldered a new piece of wire from the battery chamber to the first brass tab. Carefully reassembled, then put two silver button batteries in the chamber, gapped with springs. I can’t believe it but it’s working! Over/underexposure LEDs, hot shoe, auto shutter… I was so happy I replaced the light seals immediately 😉

Tips & Tricks

Manual aperture plus aperture-priority autoexposure, over-under LEDs in the viewfinder (actually in the plastic frame right next to your eye!). Self-timer countdown LED on the front, the self-timer lever is in-column as on the Yashica Electro.

Battery was originally two mercury PX640, and my experience with the 640KA is that their voltage doesn’t stay constant enough to be proper replacements, better to adapt silver 1.5v button batteries and adjust the ASA accordingly (say, 2/3 to 1/2 of actual ASA).

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