Some Thoughts About 38mm/2.8 Camera – Guest Post by Al Mullen

This is just a broad overview of what seems like it was the most popular non-slr 35mm camera  from 1970-1985. I have 5 that are similar with mostly mechanical differences.

The first one up is the Yashica ME-1

This camera is a compact, manual, zone focus version. The only drawback is the plastic knob on the rewind does break making it more difficult to rewind.

38mm isn’t really a great landscape focal length, but if you tighten it up a bit it’s fine

This one you can set the aperture and change the iso which is handy if available light changes


Yashica Auto Focus Motor

This one has a  nice mix of auto features, but allows you to set the iso and flash.  It has a shutter lock which somehow did not find it’s way on to every camera.

It also has focus lock, but since there is no AF confirmation that always seemed a bit risky. It does miss focus 10% of the time or so.

Many of these autofocus cameras don’t focus until the button is fully depressed so be sure to hold steady longer than with a slr.

Red filters are easy to use with these, polarizers are not since you do not shoot and compose TTL.

Mamiya 135AF

For better or worse I find this camera really easy to shoot a lot of photos with, maybe it’s the short throw of the film advance.

This one has auto focus and manual everything else. Most of these cameras will have a close or flash needed warning. I wouldn’t push it closer than 6 feet.

These cameras are so small and quick to use they are handy to just have along.


Konica C35

I hate to say this is my least favorite, it’s not because it doesn’t take sharp photos – because it does!

This one is the old school rangefinder which is slower and I miss focus on and the lens barrel is pretty short making it harder to keep your fingers away.

But for it’s age and availability it is a solid choice. It has some manual controls, I leave it on auto.

The last one is the Minolta AF2

This one is very similar to the Mamiya 135AF auto focus with everything else manual. I only had one bad incident with this one, it stopped advancing.I blamed it on the tougher film and it’s been fine since then.

All these are real cameras with glass lenses

They are naturals for street shooting

So in conclusion, you should have one or two or five of them. The main problems they get are the light meters not working or corrosion in the battery chamber. There are many others and close relatives to the ones I have for sale.

4 thoughts on “Some Thoughts About 38mm/2.8 Camera – Guest Post by Al Mullen”

  1. Thanks again Al. 38mm seemed to become a de facto standard in the 1970 – probably in part due to Konica C35 series and the various copies. Interesting the Fujica 35 Automagic which I still like to think of the proto P&S 35mm compact had the same lens length but slower aperture back in ’58

    1. I would imagine the C35 was the standard. I can’t recall what they said the ideal lens was – somewhere like 40mm where there was the least light distortion before the film.

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