Konica AA-35 / Konica Recorder
My first encounter with the Konica AA-35 was incidental. I had records of it and its sister, the Konica Recorder, but never paid attention to them. They looked like another entrant to the Japanese endless point and shoot parade. I went to pick up a couple of Pen F cameras where the seller motioned that he has some other cameras and pulled out a large box full of disk styled cameras. I wasn’t impressed. Ten cameras of the lot were wired with a 3.5mm plug at the end. The rest were miserable. I didn’t like them and passed. Yet the seller pulled another box, this one with eight Kyocera Samurai X3.0, in what seemed to be mint condition. I wasn’t tempted. Seller didn’t give up. Another box surfaced, this time with Pen F variations – F, FT and FV. There was an eclectic bunch. At a quick inspection, the bodies without lenses seem to work, the bodies with lenses didn’t.
Now I cracked. Apparently, the seller’s father bought the lot somewhere. He hadn’t been a camera collector but an everything collector. He passed away some years before and the family tried to rid his collections. The cameras I came for where the few they found working and didn’t bother with the rest. I took it all amid much thanks by the seller.
Once I found time for it, I embarked on a salvage mission. The Olympus Samurais just needed a wipe, and with a fresh battery came alive, clicking and buzzing. The Pen cameras needed more work, where at day’s end I had six clean and working along with some corpses.
The Konica AA-35, all forty of them, needed more attention. At first, I thought to dump the lot, thinking they are worthless. Checking their value, I was mystified by the figures. This camera, as well as the Konica Recorder, were marked at over $100. There must be something in it.
Digging deeper it seems the camera has become a kind of cult camera, sought after by the LOMO crowd. Whoever LOMO crowd are and why. Further, it seems that being scarce, I had stumbled upon the last cache on earth of this camera.
It is still a mystery why is it so special. The camera itself is tiny. Just slightly bigger than a deck of Poker cards, about the same thickness. When folded closed it is smaller than a Disc camera. It is true engineering magic to fit a 35mm cassette in it. It is solved via installing the cassette at the bottom, while the film rolls up at the top. There is little body plastic at front and back of cassette, so it is only a tad thicker than the film cassette itself. Using the Rollei 35 as a yardstick, it is about 1cm taller and wider, but about 5mm thinner. And being half-frame it takes twice as many pictures.
It has little settings, just ISO selector. Being a tiny camera with short focal length the F4 lens is minuscule to match. Flash is manually controlled and that’s about it. Rest is fully automatic. Haven’t run a film through it, watch this space.