GAF Memo 35ET

I bought this camera new in about 1976 from the photographic department of the Debenhams store in Southsea, Hampshire. If I remember correctly it cost around £20 which was quite a lot of money to me in the mid 1970s. It came with a black vinyl soft case and a black plastic lens cap. The zip up case was always a tight fit so I didn’t use it very often and hence the camera is not in a perfect cosmetic condition today. I tend to use cameras rather than put them on a shelf. In any event putting the case on the camera often set off the shutter which was a rather annoying habit. There is no shutter release lock fitted and the button stands quite high on the top of the camera body where it is very easy to accidentally fire.

The camera is very similar to several other small compact rangefinders of the 1970s. It is fitted with a fixed 38mm GAF Xytar lens of f2.8 maximum aperture. The film speed setting is on the front of the lens surround and can accept ASA/ISO speeds from 25 to 500. I always found that the camera gave about 1 stop underexposure even when fitted with the correct PX675 1.3 volt mercury battery so I downrated the film speed that I set thereby giving an effective ASA range of 50-1000. A good thing as the higher speed films are almost always more useful in a camera of this sort than the slower fine-grained types. There is no self-timer fitted which is one significant difference between the GAF and my very similar Mamiya 135 which has one. The GAF does however have a B setting for the shutter which is a useful feature although it will only operate with the lens wide open at f2.8, you cannot stop the aperture down for creative effect. The disadvantage of this feature is that it was set with a small chrome plated tag below the lens turret and this has a habit of getting accidentally pushed thereby moving the shutter setting from the Auto position to the B setting. I frequently didn’t notice that it had slipped and consequently lost quite a few pictures this way over the years.

The GAF is a camera that I like using very much. It is small and compact although it is quite heavy, it is well built and the lens gives very sharp images, especially when stopped down to around f8. It feels well balanced and is fast and simple to use. The viewfinder is bright and the meter on the right hand side of the viewfinder frame provides all of the exposure information that you need. When the shutter is tripped there is a very satisfying click letting the photographer know that the shutter has fired but still being quiet enough not to alert the subject in most circumstances.


I have replaced the foam light seals with similar type foam, which was cut to shape. These are set very deeply into grooves on the back of the camera’s body and did not require gluing into place as the expansion of the foam holds them quite firmly. The hinge end of the door originally had a very thin foam pad as the light trap and I couldn’t find an exact replacement so I substituted black felt glued into place as this was thin enough to allow the door to shut properly. It seems to work fine. The only other thing that has needed constant attention is the battery contact in the battery well on the bottom of the camera. The centre contact frequently requires cleaning as it corrodes quite quickly. On my camera it is a brass stud and I just file off the corrosion deposit with a small bent file. As the original mercury battery is no longer available I use the 675ZA zinc air equivalent which are cheap and easily available. They don’t last very long though, perhaps a couple of months at best.



GAF Memo 35ET Made in Japan

Camera Type

35mm EE zone focusing camera with between-the-lens shutter

Film Format



GAF Xytar 38 mm f/2,8 (4 elements, 3 groups),

Filter Size

46 mm

Focusing Range

1 m to infinity

Shutter Speeds

B plus 1/30th second to 1/650th second. Automatic programmed aperture & speed selection

Exposure Meter Type

Single CdS cell located above the lens element. Programmed aperture & speed selection

Film Speed Range

ISO 25 (DIN 15) to ISO 500 (DIN 28)

Viewfinder Information

Brightline frame, Parallax correction mark

Focusing System

Rangefinder focusing in viewfinder

Synchronization & Flash

Built-in "X" synchronization @ 1/25 Second - "X" contacts in Hot Shoe and PC socket  Flashmatic system with aperture determined with the selected GN (10 - 40 in Meters) and the focusing distance.

Loading Film

Standard 35mm 135 loading

Advance Film

Single-stroke, Built-in double exposure prevention

Self Timer 



One 1,35 volt Mercury battery PX675 - Use 675ZA (1.4v Zinc Air)


113 X 77 X 55 mm


420 g


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