Canon a35f

5 Frames from a Canon A35F – The Best Rangefinder

So you’ve read the title and now I need to convince you to put down your Leica… OK…  Maybe once you have a Leica, this isn’t for you. But for those of you who have been thinking about a rangefinder and looked at prices of Leica bodies… The Canon A35F might be an alternative, and dare I say, the best place to start.

I found this camera in a second hand store that is in the middle of nowhere, the guy behind the counter thinks he knows a lot about cameras but he is also very kind and is easy to talk down to a reasonable price.

The first time I looked at this camera and looked through the viewfinder I was confused. I am not sure how it was for you guys, but checking out a rangefinder for the first time, I had no idea how they worked. Just in case you also don’t know, you have a box in the centre of the viewfinder with two overlapping images of the scene in front of you. Your task is to turn the focus wheel until those the two overlapping views of the scene line up when pointing at the thing you want to focus on (more reading here).

The Canon A35F is a rangefinder with a 40mm f/2.8 lens with an ISO setting range from 25 to 400. It also has a built in flash.

After I shot my first roll and developed it I was confused. I was guessing I was looking at results from a different camera. This must be the SLR with the Carl Zeiss lens. (OK maybe not that great but still had to question my life choices). I developed a lot film at the same time, so needed to stick another roll through and label it better than before. Again… “What camera was this one?”

In bright sunshine everything can be in focus, the lens is so sharp. It looks amazing. It’s compact. Lightweight. Easy to focus. Fast. And cheap!

Man on bench in snow

We can start with this photo of me that my girlfriend took in the snow coming off the ice road. This camera does tend to lean towards the highlights but there is still a lot of detail in the snow that is very nice without having to put any extra thought into the exposure.

Winding road sun through trees

Second photo we get to have a look at this sharpness, it really takes me back. When I picked this camera up I was expecting a plastic camera vibe. But no this is very capable little camera.

This picture had perfect light coming though the trees and leading lines with the winding road.

Snow edge of a ice road

Third photo we have a picture of the edge of the snow road in luleå. Just like how the shadow looks like a city skyline. But shows how the camera and Ilford FP4 can find the midtones.

Hotel road sigb

Forth photo is a great visual of how it has focus on the sign that is close ish by and the hotel super far away. Took two photos when I was stood there, one focused on the hotel and one on the sign and both turned out the same.

Shed in woods

Last photo is of a wood shed, this type of photo is my favioute to take. Finding an abandoned shack/shed/house in the middle of nowhere and making it stick out. Also very happy with Ilford’s FP4, lots of midtones and allows to edit it just how I want it when I’m in the darkroom.

In conclusion I have seen this camera go for 100-200kr (£10-20) and have been tempted so many times to start collecting these cameras. Hoping Jason Mamoa might switch to the darkside and people will finally realise how good this camera is.

If you’re looking for a rangefinder, look no further. I have a Leica M4-P and the viewfinder is better but only if you have them side by side will you notice the difference. The Canon is lighter, doesn’t give you a choice of lens so you don’t have to second guess – just make it work and it costs the same price as a roll of film.

Robert Johnson

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15 thoughts on “5 Frames from a Canon A35F – The Best Rangefinder”

  1. A no-brainer at that price (although shops seem to charge 10 times that for top quality copies), far lighter than an M with lens and perfect for carry around all day! Great shots too.

    1. Robert Johnson

      Yeah seems dependent on the country.
      Hopefully ones come up for a reasonable price so you can try it out!

      It’s a lot of fun, super easy and the results are surprising.

  2. For several months I have been reading every day all the articles that the internet automatically offers me on 35mmc, but I must say that this is the most interesting, pertinent and useful.
    Unfortunately for me, it’s just like what I’m preparing as a new series to be published starting next autumn for Italian-speaking users…
    Gabriele Coassin

    1. Robert Johnson

      That’s how I got into this website aswell, Google showing Mr what I wanted to see.

      Then I went for a search on here for this camera and nothing came up… so wanted to get it a shout out.

      Hope your series comes out good for the Italians 🙂

  3. Aside from being slightly over-exposed (as you pointed out), these are nice images.

    I do wonder about the longevity of these cameras, how frequently they fail, etc.

    Also, considering the price of admission to read this article (navigating pop up ads galore, etc.) is it too much to ask for a grammar check before publication?

  4. This camera is something that really gets under your skin, doesn’t it? I have one identical, and I was extremely pleasant surprised when I developed the film. This camera is a Canon after all, even if it was not the preferred one in their litter.

    Really nice photographs, Robert, and a very good camera. Have fun!

    1. Robert Johnson

      Yep was completely surprised, especially on how easy it was to shoot with. This camera really brought me back round on Canon.

      Started as a Canon digital guy back in school, started with a pentax there aswell been through all the analog cameras and now settled on the Canon A-1 and this Canon A35F. Apart from other special cameras.

  5. I love the wood shed. Well done!

    A quick look at eBay shows that many of these Canon cameras were put aside with their batteries and are now ruined because of battery leakage. It’s a real shame.

    1. Robert Johnson

      That is a shame. If only they knew back then second hand market a couple of decades later…

      But if they are batteries you could try and fix one? Or is the damage more than just the pins?

  6. For me, the all-star best built-in lens rangefinder is the Fujica Compact Deluxe. Why? A) it uses a modern battery B) the shutter is fully mechanical C) it has both shutter priority AE & full manual D) the aperture and meter show in the viewfinder E) it has a Leica-size body F) it has a rear dial focus wheel is better for big hands and leaves room for wider aperture & shutter dials G) the unique 6-element 45mm F1.8 lens is better than any Canonet/Yashica/Minolta, and on par with Konica IIIA / S2.

    Since they were only made in small numbers, they’re mostly unknown. I now have two mint copies, both CLA’d, and I got them relatively cheap:) I’ve owned half a dozen Yashicas, a few Canonets, a couple Minoltas. I still own a Konica IIIA.

    Great photos, and a solid camera!

    1. Robert Johnson

      Oh a modern battery! That would be nice, now it’s on my watch list to have a test. Thanks for the tips! 🙂

  7. Super pics! Unfortunately looking for one, they all seem to be either broken, or over $200 (and still not guaranteed to work).

    1. Robert Johnson

      Americans seem to know something the swedes don’t, unfortunate for you, i think its amazing. Hopefully one comes up cheap for you 🙂 and don’t believe the broken. Picked a few cameras up that said they where broken but worked fine, maybe with a little tinkering.

  8. Jacob Brookie

    I was once given one of these cameras years ago. Still regret the fact that its shutter was broken! Some of these automatic rangefinders have fantastic lenses and are too often forgotten today.

  9. I hadn’t heard of this one, but it looks like a sweet camera. I love the rear focus wheel, reminds me of the old Contax rangefinders. I’ll have to keep my eyes out for one.

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