solidly built almost-manual rangefinder. will not fit in your pocket.
THE HARD FACTS
The Yashica Electro 35 GSN has a 45mm fixed (Yashinon) lens. Aperture is adjustable from f1.7 to f16. It can focus as close as 0.8m, all the way to infinity. It takes film up to ISO 1000. Well, technically any film is OK but the speed setting dial at the top only goes up to 1000 so if you try to shoot anything faster in sunlight (and don’t like overexposure), you’re probably screwed. More on that later. Film loading is tricky. There’s two spools on the right. You put the canister of film on the left side of the camera. Pull the end over A and under B and then push it into B after wrapping it once around. It’s in the picture.
When you hold the Yashica Electro 35 in your hands, it feels heavy enough to be stable but not enough to strain your arms. I haven’t weighed it, but I would guess 0.7 kilos. It’s not exactly small, but can be safely carried in one hand (even by older children) without the case. With analog photography slowly dying out and digital point-and-shoots shrinking to the size of card decks, this camera is going to stand out in public. People might compliment you on your vintage-looking camera, or they might see you as a tacky tourist. Depends on where you are. Oh yeah, and extra features! Obviously, a lens cap. Shutter Lock, for those times when you forgot if you wound the film or not. A self-timer. A “battery check” button. A hotshoe for the flash unit. Strap lugs: something that your Fed or Smena might be missing.
At first glance, this camera may look monstrous and complex and taking a lot of knowledge to operate because of all the exposed knobs, cranks and dials. But look closer and you will see that it’s pretty easy to use. It’s not quite a manual camera. It operates in 3 modes: aperture priority, B setting (unlimited), and flash. I don’t own a flash unit or a tripod thread, so I didn’t test them out. Aperture priority is when you set the aperture and the focus, then let the camera’s light meter set the shutter speed based on the first one and the film speed. The shutter speed is anywhere between 30 seconds (in B mode) to 1/500. This is good for beginners because it eliminates the hardest part of taking the picture. To further help you expose the shot correctly, there’s 2 indicator lights on top of the camera and visible from the viewfinder. Yellow-orange means too much light and red means too little (or get a tripod). Film speed can be reset between shots on the same roll, for creative purposes I guess. Shutter cocking is done with the film cranking, not separately.
A little bit of vignetting in the corners, not even close to the Holga. Very sharp, clear image that captures what you see, exactly as you see it (assuming you don’t over or under-expose and use aperture of 5.6 or more) with hardly any color distortion. The only exception I’ve found is shooting in an incandescent-lit, beige-walled room. In that case it has a heavy orange tone. Contrast is medium. These findings are from shooting with Fuji Superia 400 color negatives (not expired). The Yashica Electro 35 can be used for a lot of different environments: Nightclubs (just guessing), sunsets, beaches, full sun, partial sun, cloudy, rainy, full moon, snow, and indoors with any kind of lighting. However, it’s not tough enough to withstand medium to heavy rain or, I presume, sandstorms.
Overall this is a nice solidly built rangefinder and good for people who are just learning manual controls and don’t want any image distortion. These controls, and also the shape were very common in the 1970s and 1980s when it was produced, so if this sounds good to you but you just can’t afford it, or can’t find one, then a Fuji or Olympus or some other brand will probably do just fine.