After four surgeries and other health problems, my eyesight is not excellent. I can see the computer screen and drive safely even at night, but using a manual focus lens is challenging. When I adapt manual focus 35mm lenses to my Fuji X digital camera, I often use the digital focus peaking feature to help me get sharp in-focus images. I don't have this helpful focusing aid with a manual focus lens on a 35mm film camera. I can't quite see where the parallax lines meet when focusing. Many of my frames are slightly out of focus. I realised that many of the 35mm frames I exposed over the last few years are slightly out of focus. I’m struggling with nailing focus when using my manual focus 35mm lenses on my Minolta cameras. It’s not the equipment; it’s me.
I asked a film community member for help finding a solution. I wrote:
I’ve searched Google, but I’m struggling to find a solution. I want to continue with film, but I need a camera with autofocus. I want something compact with a fixed focal length between 38mm and 45mm. Do those exist?
I got a helpful response, but it wasn't what I had hoped.
Am I reading you right that you want a small fixed-lens camera, like a point-and-shoot? You will find such cameras with single-focal-length lenses. 35mm is the most common focal length by far. You might get lucky and find one at 38mm, but I haven't encountered one yet in my travels.
You might also consider a compact AF SLR. My Minolta Maxxum 5 is small and handles beautifully, but the primes available are the typical 28, 35, and 50. I've owned a couple of consumer Nikon AF SLRs, the N60 and N65; they handle great. Same trouble with the primes, but I own a 28-80 zoom for those bodies, which is a terrific lens. I use it on my Nikon Df all the time.
I did a Google search using the search term "autofocus 35mm rangefinder". Google returned links to reviews recommending Contax G2 and Konica Hexar AF, both popular range finder cameras. Dependingly on the camera's condition, the used prices on eBay and elsewhere were well over $1500.
Why am I so hung up on finding a compact camera with a 40mm lens? The 40mm focal length feels purpose-built to be perfect for general-purpose photography, family snapshots and street photography, the only type I think makes sense for a 35mm film camera. The MD Rokkor-X 45mm F2 pancake lens feels purpose-built for my XD-11 and X-700 cameras. I wish my eyesight were better. I do enjoy using my Minolta cameras.
I found a cheaper, but not cheap compact, autofocus camera when I checked the box for 35mm lenses—cameras such as the Nikon LF35AF or LF35AD. The Nikon has a 35mm f/2.8 and is made of much too much plastic, but I like the look of the camera. I also looked at the Nikon 2020 (F-501), one of the first autofocus SLRs from Nikon. It is readily available on eBay but finding an inexpensive 35mm lens is challenging.
I also found that the Canon Sure Shot (AF35M) might be an option. I found a review on lomogrpahy, implying that the AF34M is heavy and clunky. I'm looking for other reviews before I decide. Another option is the Konica C35 AF, another rangefinder with a 35mm lens. Or I could spend a little more (my budget cap is $150) and get a Nikon L35AF2, Nikon's first autofocus range finger.
I discovered the compact Canon EF 40mm prime lens, and the compatible Canon SLR bodies are plentiful and cheap but bulky.
I have the XF27mmF2.8 R WR lens on my Fuji X-T3. It's the APS-C equivalent to a 41mm lens. I have other lenses, but that one is almost always attached to my camera. I'll keep looking. I'm looking for this package https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pofcxdh4eU but in analogue form.
Typical for my "on the spectrum" brain, I suffer from paralysis of analysis.