Once in a while I come across a surprise find when searching the aisles of local antique stores. Usually the prices are laughable, like forty dollars for an old Ansco Sure-Flash box camera in questionable condition. These can be found for five to ten bucks on EBay plus shipping, so when I see these price tags I always roll my eyes and laugh. Recently I found a little gem on a shelf hidden behind some old Polaroid Land cameras. This Konica C35 caught my eye as it is small and sleek, not much bigger than my Canon A75 digital camera. Introduced in 1967, it features an automatic Corpal shutter with a speed range of 1/30 to 1/650 of a second plus Bulb for long exposures. The 38mm Hexanon lens is apparently of a four element design and opens up to f2.8. Focus is from 3.3ft to infinity and supports external flash with a built-in hot shoe and PC socket. Film ISO speed setting is controlled by a knurled ring around the lens on the face plate. It can be a little difficult to turn. The viewfinder is bright and includes frame lines and exposure values, but there is no parallax correction. It still had a battery with some life left in it, and upon testing seemed to work just fine. These originally were made for the old 1.3v Mercury batteries that are no longer available, so when using a 1.5v expect the exposure to be slightly off. Generally around one half to one full stop over-exposed. The tag read 10 bucks which meant I found a new addition to my ever growing collection.
A couple of years ago I attended some photography classes at a local community college and at one point the class began using the studio lights in the classroom. It was a surprise to the instructor that most of the students didn’t have cameras with PC connectors. Most had brand new SLR’s from Nikon, Canon, Pentax, etc., but these cameras, including my Minolta Maxxum 5 don’t include this feature. Luckily I had brought my trusty Minolta Maxxum 9000 so I was one of the few who could actually plug their camera directly into the lighting system. I assume it is a financial issue which causes most camera manufacturers to not include this in their beginner and amateur SLR camera models, but can it really cost that much to add a PC connector? All the more reason why I find it humorous that this ten dollar compact Konica C35 from an antique store shelf can plug into my home studio light system, while a two hundred dollar (at the time) Maxxum 5, or similar SLR can’t.
Since the camera is automatic, no manual controls for shutter and aperture settings, I set the focus for six feet and handed it to my five year old when I got home. After informing him his pictures will be blurry if he takes shots while jumping on his trampoline, a few of his shots actually came out. I like this little camera. It’s handy for quick grab shots and small enough to put in a jacket pocket or my daughter’s diaper bag when we go out as a family. There were at least three different models released during its production run.
CLEANING AND REPAIR
Luckily for me this is one of those rare occurrences when a vintage camera is found in great condition. Other than some glass cleaner for the lens and viewfinder and leather cleaner for the covering, this little gem only needed a new battery.
In my opinion this is an underrated camera. What it lacks in manual control, if makes up for in image quality, compactness, and charm. An advantage of this lack of interest is that the average auction price on EBay is around 10-15 dollars. Expect around 6-8 dollars for shipping. Some models may include the proprietary flash attachment, much like the one found for the Canonet GIII QL17. The battery is for the meter and automatic shutter control, but the camera will fire at around 1/100 without it. So ensure the seller has tested that the shutter does indeed fire, that the lens is clean, and the advance system seems to work.