0other GAF cameras in my collection


JapanGAF Memo 35 ET [1975 - ?]



Konica 35 CIn 1968 Konica launched the C35. It featured a built-in meter, rangefinder (both coupled), and the simplicity of fully automatic exposure. It was a compact, light, and simple to use camera that had an excellent lens with a wider than average field of view (38mm), and took good photographs because it could be focused accurately. Correct flash exposure is accomplished easily by dialling-in a guide number setting on a lens ring.

The camera was an outstanding sales success throughout the world and copied by other manufacturers to yield models such as the Mamiya 135 EE, Minolta Hi-Matic F, Miranda Sensoret, etc. Both the original Konica and its copies where re-copied, giving rise to cameras such as the Chinon 35EE, Cosina 35E, GAF Memo 35 EE, Prinz 35EE from Dixons, Revue 400S, Vivitar 35EE, plus many more.



In brief, the GAF Memo 35 EE and ET were re-badged Japanese made cameras in the style of a copy of the original Konica C35 - marketed by the USA company GAF. Some Internet sources say the Memo 35 ET was made by Cosina - while others suggest Petri - but the EE clearly has a Chinon branded lens, so could it be that the ET was also made by Chinon? Then again, the fact that the ET's lens doesn't say Chinon could be an argument for it having been made by another company? Additionally, the EE pre-dates the ET (and was possibly a very early C35 copy), so they were not necessarily made by the same manufacturer. Who knows? I don't think it was GAF's plan that we knew who made the ET.

The Memos were both compact rangefinder focusing, auto exposure cameras with a CdS cell above the lens. There are no exposure controls: neither the aperture nor shutter speed can be directly selected. The viewfinder has a bright-line frame with parallax correction marks, and a needle pointer that registers against a scale of aperture and shutter speed combinations, ranging from 1/30th at f/2.8 to 1/650th at f/14 (although the aperture stops down to f/16), with over and under (flash) exposure warning zones.

So far as I can establish, the EE had a self-timer, and an f/2.7 lens, while the EF had no self-timer, and an f/2.8 lens. There were a few styling differences, where the EF was all black, while the EE had the odd splash of silver metal.

I can find little information on this camera, and what there is does not agree as to exactly what was copied by whom, or when. I guess the original price of the 35 ET would have been about £40, similar to the Prinz 35EE (a few days wages, based on the UK average pay).




GAF Memo 35 ET viewfinderViewfinder: Combined viewfinder/rangefinder. Fixed bright-line parallax.

Focus: Fully coupled rangefinder with manual focusing ring on lens barrel.

Lens: 38mm. f/2.8. Four-elements in three groups.

Close Focus: 1m.

Diaphragm: Four blade, stopping down to f/16.

Shutter: 1/30th to 1/650th + B (which only operates with the lens wide-open at f/2.8).

Cable Release: Standard socket in shutter release button.

Meter: Coupled above the lens CdS metering cell.

Exposure: Fully automatic with no manual settings available. A viewfinder pointer approximately indicates the camera selected shutter speed and aperture combination with over and under (flash required) warning zones.

Film Speed: 25 to 500 ASA.

Filter Size: 46mm screw thread.

Flash: x-sync hot shoe for Flashmatic System. Separate PC socket available. X-speed sync at 1/25th.

Film Advance: Single stroke 180° lever.

Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.

Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.

Back Opening: Sliding catch.

Size: 113 X 77 X 55 mm (W x H x D)

Weight: 420g.

Battery: 1.35v mercury (EP 675 E/RM 675 R - like a PX675, and the size of a 1.4v LR44).



My Camera

Vivitar 35EEI bought one of these compact focus and shoot cameras new from Dixons in 1979. I'd gone to the shop with the intention of getting an Olympus Trip, but I got talked into a Vivitar 35EE (probably because it cost more?). At the time I wanted this as a second camera: my Zenith B based kit was way too bulky and complicated for day-to-day, out-and-about snap shots (in those days a 135mm lens was about 3 feet long!). This was a camera I could just pop into a pocket, and expect friends to be able to use (so I could get a turn in group shots). I lent my Vivitar to a friend, and never got it back!

The Vivitar was a nice little camera, and I have been looking-out for one, on and off, for about 2 years. However, for some unfathomable reason, sellers commonly expect to achieve £40 to £50 for their Vivitars, which is way too much. More than that, for most people, there is little reason to buy a Vivitar 35EE in preference to a Konica C35, Minolta Hi-Matic F, etc., making the price of a Vivitar totally unreasonable. The affordable GAF, with its Vivitar-like all black finish, was therefore the budget conscious alternative. It lacks a self timer, and has some slight styling differences, but it's near enough the same as the Vivitar. The critical factor was, rather than £40 to £50, my GAF cost £0.99 (in August 2016).

My camera is in good cosmetic condition; just a bit of finish abrasion which reveals brass beneath. The rangefinder works well and the meter pointer is lively. However, the shutter blades are sticky. They don't open fully, and close a little slowly and unevenly, creating a teardrop shaped aperture. But, for 99p, you can't complain: I doubt I would ever want to use this camera above others available to me, and it's just a nice thing to look at and hold (once again).



GAF Memo 35 ET

GAF Memo 35 ET

GAF Memo 35 ET

GAF Memo 35 ET

I couldn't resist getting a lens hood for the GAF: I think it gives it a serious-bit-of-kit-look. This came from Hong Kong for a total price of £1.06! How can they do that? The typical UK cost is £4.67. I'm all for supporting the UK economy, but when the price differences are this big, and the UK item was most likely made in China anyway ... well it simply doesn't make sense!

GAF Memo 35 ET