A rangefinder camera is a camera fitted with a rangefinder: a range-finding focusing mechanism allowing the photographer to measure the subject distance and take photographs that are in sharp focus. Most varieties of rangefinder show two images of the same subject, one of which moves when a calibrated wheel is turned; when the two images coincide and fuse into one, the distance can be read off the wheel. Older, non-coupled rangefinder cameras display the focusing distance and require the photographer to transfer the value to the lens focus ring; cameras without built-in rangefinders could have an external rangefinder fitted into the accessory shoe. Earlier cameras of this type had separate viewfinder and rangefinder windows; later the rangefinder was incorporated into the viewfinder. More modern designs have rangefinders coupled to the focusing mechanism, so that the lens is focused correctly when the rangefinder images fuse; compare with the focusing screen in non-autofocus SLRs.
Almost all digital cameras, and most later film cameras, measure distance using electroacoustic or electronic means and focus automatically (autofocus); however, it is not customary to speak of this functionality as a rangefinder.
The Kodak 35 was launched by the Eastman Kodak Company in 1938 as their first 35mm camera manufactured in the USA. It was developed in Rochester, New York when it became apparent that the company could no longer rely on import from their Kodak AG factory in Germany during the troubled times prior to the Second World War. The Eastman Kodak Company had greatly depended on Dr. August Nagel's capabilities as a camera designer and manufacturer by acquiring his factory and making him director of Kodak AG in Stuttgart. The German factory was the single source of 35mm Kodak cameras, producing the quite successful Kodak Retina cameras to go with the new Kodak 135 daylight-loading film cassette starting in 1934.