There are many ways how you build a camera collection: by brand, by type, by film format, by period, by country or…. by accident, which is the way my collection grows and grows. As I wrote earlier, I needed an auxiliary viewfinder for my Altissa Altix V. Due to certain restrictions flea markets were not an option, so I turned to eBay instead. I found a viewfinder, bid, and lost. But when I checked the sellers other auctions, I found a suspiciously cheap Konica C35 EF and immediately placed my offer. When I checked the offer the next day, I realized that I did neither read the title nor the description properly: the camera was an Elicon 35 C, made in the USSR by BeLOMO. Although I did not really want this camera, I won the auction for 9,38 € (shipping included) and after the first test I am quite happy with this accident.
About the Elicon 35 C
The simplest way to describe the camera would be “a cheaper build Konica C35 EF clone from the USSR, now Belarus” although I could not find any proof for this “copycat” claim. However, the similar design, the identical size or the fact that the Konica lens cap also fits on the Elicon 35 C might prove my point. (Also that the prototype’s flash mount looked even closer like the Konica than the final production line). It’s a simple viewfinder camera with manual, unaided focus, a CdS Light meter and automatic exposure and a built-in flash (revolutionary when the Konica was released in 1975, not so revolutionary any more in 1982 when the Elicon followed). Information (in English or German) is rare (both site were linked before), I keep in mind what a copywriter once told me: “If you have nothing to say, keep it short at least”:
- The camera was build by BeLomo from 1982 till 1990
- Later models had manual aperture settings and based on it the first soviet autofocus camera was built
- It’s equipped with a 2.8 / 38 Industar 95 lens
- Shutter speeds range from 1/8 to 1/500 while the aperture stops down from 2.8 to 16
- To power it, you’ll need two AA batteries
- There are various versions for export and domestic markets, sovietcams.com claims that “it’s almost impossible to find two visually identical cameras” so whatever you find might look different
The differences to the Konica are
- There is no indicator which aperture the camera uses
- No separate battery for the light meter needed
- No way to attach a strap to the camera’s body
- Distance scale instead of symbols for zone focus
- No self-timer
- The camera is lighter
Taking pictures with the Elicon 35 C
Insert two AA batteries, as the camera does not operate without. Pull out the rewind crank, open the back and insert the film “as usual”. Close the back, set the film speed on the front of the leans (25-400 ISO), advance the film. To focus, guess. There are no depth of field marks, but as you don’t know which aperture the camera choses, they would be useless anyway. The shutter release is on the top right. In low light, activate the flash with the switch underneath of it, wait till the ready light is red and shot. Or use a tripod and a cable release. When the film is full, press the release button under the camera and rewind.
As its Japanese sibling, the Elicon is not the most elegant camera, but it’s cheap and fun to use. And: You can never forget your flash!
|Modell||Elicon 35 C|
|Year built||?, the cameras were produced between 1982 & 1990|
|Special features||Built in flash|
|Date of purchase||01/2021|
|Place of purchase||eBay|
Tips & Tricks shooting with the Elicon 35C
If you look under the lens (for example while writing an article for your blog) you will find zone focus marks.
Film purchase & processing
The camera can use any 35 mm film, but as it is fully automatic, IDO should be between 25 and 400 ISO.
I did not find any links then a Russian Wikipedia article and some descriptions on sovietcams.com, all linked above.