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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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