Pentax PC35AF-M: I Found Another Solid Point and Shoot Camera

Pentax PC35AF-M

I have a soft spot for fixed-lens (non-zoom) point and shoot cameras. I really like point and shoot cameras in general, but the non-zoom variety are my favorites.

My friend Lisa gave me this gem of a camera. She found it in a box in a closet. She doesn’t remember where she got it, but it’s in near mint shape. I have reviewed a few point and shoots on this site, and if it made it here, then I probably like the camera.

I am going to start of with, I like this camera.

There’s a lot to like about this camera. This review, as with all of my gear reviews, is not technical. I will concentrate on the practical elements of the camera.

The PC35AF-M has DX ISO detection, but the ISO can be manually set for film that doesn’t have DX, or you can override it, but some internet research told me, that you must cover the film canister with tape so the sensor doesn’t register the ISO. The manual ISO settings are 100, 200, 400, and 1000. The DX can register from 25—1600 ISO. I often shoot bulk loaded film, so having a camera with manual ISO override is a bonus.

The auto-focus seems to work just fine, but you have to pay attention to the distance indicator. It uses a system very similar to the Yashica T-AF, there are three icons in the viewfinder that show roughly the distance the lens is focusing at . This is really handy, with most point and shoots, you don’t get any indication where the lens is focusing. This will help reduce focus errors before you take the shot.

The image quality is very nice. Right on par with the Fuji DL-200 which is also a very nice camera with its Fujinon 32mm 1:2.8 lens. Pentax knows how to make a lens. I still prefer the lens character of the 35mm Tessar 1:3.5 T* of the Yashica T-AF. That Tessar is beautiful.

Build quality of the Pentax is very good. It’s seems better built than the Yashica T-AF, and has the same build quality as the Fuji DL-200. It’s slightly more compact than the Fuji, but heavier than both the Yashica and the Fuji.

(with batteries)
11 ounces
(310 grams)
physical specs
Holding a Pentax PC35AF-M

The camera handles very well. The strap lugs are on the correct side of the camera. Which is a bonus. Unlike the Yashica T-AF

There is a spring-loaded door which covers the lens when the camera is not in use, which is opened by pressing the button on the front of the camera. I’ve seen these on other cameras, and I have seen them break. The Fuji just slides out of the way to turn on the camera and the Yashica has a weird window that slide open before it takes the picture. It’s clever, but silly.

The one feature I really appreciate about this camera is the back light compensation switch. It’s on top of the camera and it gives you a 1.5 stops of over exposure. This is great, you don’t see it on a lot of cameras. When I have seen it on a point and shoot, you have to jump through hoops to activate it. I would like to see this as a button on all cameras. It’s very useful. Plus, the very handy, self-timer switch on the top of the camera, next to the shutter button.

Batteries, they are AA and can be found anywhere. I have a stack of rechargeable batteries just for these cameras. I can make it about 10 rolls of film with two batteries as long as I am not using the flash. The flash takes a while to charge up though.

The camera does not auto-rewind, like the Yashica, there is a switch on the bottom that winds the film back into the canister. Unlike the Yashica, there is a safety so you must press a recessed button (1) then you slide the (2) switch.

Final thoughts:

This is becoming one of my favorite grab-and-go cameras. I use it for street shooting, but it’s not the perfect street camera. It’s loud and you can’t pre-focus. If I feel like being stealth, I grab a Rollei 35. With these point and shoots, you don’t have to plan ahead. It’s a great camera for taking to the pub with your friends or walking the dog. I recommend this camera for any film shooter that wants a good point and shoot for everyday life.


Color film: is Kodak Ultra Max 400 | B&W film: Arista Ultra EDU 200

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