Attending thrift shops has its perils. Chances are I find something I did not, until then, know I needed… One of these instant-must-have items is the point-and-shoot Konica C35 EF. It is definitely plastic and the orange flash-lifting knob on the front together with the “C35” in neon shouts back to the 80’s for me. Apparently the C35 has its roots back in 1975 and the EF version appeared in 1977. One of the later additions to the Konica 35 series is the C35 EF (Electronic Flash). Here together with a similar viewfinder camera of another make, the Olympus Trip 35.
It compares favourably with the Olympus Trip 35 already in the collection. There are similarities: Both are small brick-like cameras, both sport a 40 mm f/2.8 lens (well the Konica is 38 mm but that is close enough) and both are quite small and handy viewfinder cameras. Both have ASA settings from 25 to 400. The Konica has a timer release which the Trip lacks.
However the Konica relies on a battery for determining exposure. Mine has a AG13-cell in it. I have read a number of complaints concerning this battery dependence but cannot really join that choir as the battery seems to last forever. There is an imprint inside the battery lid that says “Mercury cell 1.3 V”, but I imagine any cell would work if one is not too pickish for correct exposure. Modern films seem to have a wide exposure latitude that helps in that case. There is always the possibility to adjust the ASA-number to manage exposure (read: voltage) deviations. Pull the orange tab to the left and the spring loaded flash unit pops up. Flash charge starts immediately. When charged a signal lamp indicates this situation.
The main feature of the Konica which makes it interesting is the built in flash. The flash uses a separate battery pack of two 1.5 V AA-cells. It is activated with a slight nudge towards the lens of the screamy orange knob on the front. The flash pops up a mere 12 mm (1/2″) which might reduce red eyes somewhat but I assume it is mainly to close the electric circuit that powers the flash!
On top of the camera is a small window that lights up when the capacitor is charged and the flash is ready, it only takes a few seconds. The lamp behind the window could be a small yellow LED but the colour looks more like one of these amber neon lights on the kitchen stove.
Flash unit in its upper ready-to-use position. The amber light indicates we are ready for action. It goes out when the unit is pressed down into place again. The instruction “Push down when not in use” must be to reduce power consumption. You are not likely to forget it up like this anyway.
In the field I really like the camera! It is light, and quick and easy to use. There are four focus distances: 1 m, 1.5 m, 3 m and infinity also pedagogically illustrated on the circumference of the lens by “head and shoulders”, “head and torso”, “full body” and “mountains”.
The actual distance scale also has 2 and 5 m squeezed in but there are no locking dents for these. I guess they thought it looked empty and filled up the vacant space?
The viewfinder has f-stop information projected on the right side and a needle indicating current f-stop, or if the flash should be used. So I have some idea of resulting DOF, I like that. The left part of the viewfinder shows the different distances using the four people-symbols. Handy!
Picture quality appears to me be as good as the Trip’s. The negs are sharp but as always after my scanning they are considerably softer. The same applies for the Trip. (I really must get that dark room setup soon…) What I am saying is that the lens is not noticeably soft or vignetty or suffers from any apparent lack of quality. A quick search on flickr seems to support this experience, with surprisingly sharp photos over all.
While the Trip is slightly smaller (and more rounded) I will not ditch the Konica as the flash can be quite useful at times. And the two cameras actually weigh the same! The Konica is not as compact but only weighs 10 grammes more (with batteries and without film).