Chinon 35 Review : Cut back Excellence

Chinon 35
Chinon 35 (missing shutter button)

This absolute corker from Japan IMHO is one of the best point and shooter ever to be based on a rangefinder. Its crisp, accurate lens and exposure deliver like no other rangefinder based P&S.

Dumfries, 2014. Chinon 35 with Kodak BW400CN with K2 yellow filter
Dumfries, 2014. Chinon 35 with Kodak BW400CN with K2 yellow filter

The camera is essentially a late series  Chinon 35EE rangefinder but without the rangefinder.  It shares the same good optics as it’s big brother

Chinon 35 Specs

  • Lens:  Chinonex 38mm 1:2.7
  • Focus: Scale
  • Metering: CdS
  • Aperture: f/2.7-f/16
  • ASA range : 25-500
  • Shutter: 1/30-1/650 + B
  • EV 100asa: 7-17+
  • Filter-Thread:  46mm
  • Battery : PX675

The Chinon 35 EE was no bad choice as a compact rangefinder and sold for quite a few years in a series of mild stylistic revisions. As far as I know the Chinon 35 appeared later in the run and appears to be only available in a black with 80s styling. I own an earlier revision 35EE which is much more 70’s styled.

Raising the top II
Dumfries, Oct 2014. Chinon 35 with Expired Truprint FG+ 200 shot at 100asa

Looks aside they’re pretty much the same camera at the core. The 35 was intended as a cheaper version so as well as losing the rangefinder. It also lacks  the timer, PC sync socket and perhaps most importantly there is no cable release (it’s not hiding beneath the button on the shutter as I can confirm from my mistake in twisting it off !!). Otherwise mechnically it’s all good.

Green tones I
Chinon 35 with Expired Truprint FG+ 200 2014

The lens is pretty sharp and accurate and the CdS exposure sytem works well. This was powered by the now defunct toxic mercury px675 cell in the day but a wide range of alternatives exist the cheapest being zinc air hearing aid batteries 675za. The manual actually suggests if in doubt shoot between 5-7 ft in bright condition !!

Metering is displayed in the viewfinder by a needly meter using matched shutter and aperture combos. Most of the time you’ll shoot with the metering ring set to Automatic (A) although you can set to a flash guide number (GN) both in meters and feet. There is also the option to shoot in Bulb mode although this is a moot point without cable. In bulb the aperture opens up to the widest aperture, an industry average f/2.7. This gives it an average light range in performance.

Beneath a steel grey sky
Carlilse 2014, Chinon 35 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

As ever half depressing the shutter allows you to lock exposure. The camera takes 46mm filters although irriatingly like the 35EE  the styling means a getting push on cap to fit is hard (just save time and get a clip on 46mm lens cap).

Okay so this camera hasn’t the fastest lens and lacks cable but I still love it due to the sharp lens and bad boy styling. This the bad boy P&S in the leather jacket loitering by the bikesheds that all other P&S want to be. Konica did produce a non rangefinder version of the might C35 in the C35V and then later the C35EF but these are zone focus beasts. The Minolta Hi-matic G just felt flimsy compared.

Crafty Pause
Chinon 35 with Expired Truprint FG+ 200 shot at 100asa. 2014

Pretty rare to see. Couldn’t find any on Ebay at when writing this. Mines came with replaced light seals and only real issue other me stupidly snapping off the button on shutter is my film count only resets to 8.

Alternatives

  • Minolta Hi-matic G –  Minolta’s P&S based on the Hi-matic series
  • Olympus Trip 35 – The big daddy of P&S
  • Konica C35V – Zone focus version of the classic C35 rangefinder
  • FED 50 – Wonderfully Bonkers Soviet P&S with rangefinder links

Helpful links

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