Konica C35 Automatic

Konica C35 Auto

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This little gem is almost the same size as our Canon Sure Shot Classic 120 (which I think Canon intended to look like the ‘Classic’ rangefinders that the Konica C35 was contemporary with). The lens is not as fast as some of the other compact rangefinders in this collection (it’s 1:2.8) but is a sharp and contrasty little Hexanon. This is a fully automatic camera, you focus, it figures out the rest.

Using the camera with a 1.5v alkaline 675, I shot a test roll indoors with Tri-X and existing light and the ASA set to 320, including some shots with the Konica X-14 flash (= GN 14) which has a fast recycle time (the seller included batteries for me, yay!) but no ‘test’ button to clear the charge. Small as it is it practically doubled the weight of the setup as the C35 itself is so small and light. SO – even without new seals just about every shot came out, except the ones I took outdoors, which were seriously overexposed. I didn’t know yet that I had a common problem, and it’s a testament to the contrasty lens and the latitude of Tri-X that my pictures came out at all (read on).

Not much difference between this model and the similar-looking C35 except that this is of a more recent vintage and is contemporary with the lesser zone-focus C35 V (like the Minolta Hi-Matic G) and the highly regarded Auto S3. This camera also uses the same Flashmatic system found in the Minolta Hi-Matic E where EE (Electric Eye) metering is disabled and the flash is linked to the aperture with a manually selected guide number (this time rotating the GN ring on the lens to the proper GN given by your attached flash). In fact it was sold in Japan with the name C35 Flashmatic (says Flashmatic where this one says Automatic).

PS there’s some debate whether this very popular and oft-imitated camera was really made by Konica or if it was manufactured by frequent OEM Cosina or even Chinon (my guess). I know Cosina made several very similar cameras for itself and others (Revue, Vivitar, etc.) but frankly Chinon’s versions are too close not to be from the same plant IMO. It has a very different build quality from the other Konicas I’ve disassembled, though the lens of course is in a class by itself.


This example is in very good shape but will need a thorough cleaning and new light seals. There seems to be a problem with either the needle or the meter: the needle resists moving up the scale, but not in a way that makes me think it’s sticking. I’ll have to investigate. In the meantime I’ll probably use the more trustworthy C35 (I love it!)

FOLLOWUP: Tell me if this sounds familiar: automatic camera doesn’t work without battery, with battery works enough to take pictures but meter needle sits at the bottom of the scale (wiggles slightly) and the camera seems to only shoot at full aperture. The battery chamber is clean, what is the problem? OK, this is a common one with these: clean battery chamber is no indicator that the wires are any good. In this case the black ground wire from the battery chamber was fully corroded and had actually separated from the battery chamber…the red wire was also corroded but allowed enough voltage to operate the shutter. Get out the toolkit! Getting inside this camera is easy, three screws for the bottom plate and two for the battery holder; vinyl leatherette peels up easily to get the lens mount off (the usual 4 screws but you have to pop off the ‘automatic’ plate). In this case I had to replace the whole wire, not just strip a new tip or replace part of it. So it involved removing the lens front plate retaining ring with a spanner, and then you can just turn the plastic front plate over to reveal the wire connections for the electric eye. I scraped away the corrosion and removed the corroded wire completely, then soldered in a new wire taken from some Cat-5 network cable, which was a little stiffer than this called for, but it was what I had. Watch out for the pin that will fall out of the lens mount, it just sits loose in a shaft. Assembly is the reverse of removal (don’t you hate that instruction?). Very like the GSN wire replacement. Same cause, same solution. Don’t leave batteries in your camera during long-term storage!

Konica C35 Repair

Tips & Tricks

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 perfectly using a 1.4v zinc air hearing aid battery, $5 for a pack of 8 at Radio Shack.

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