Yashica Electro 35 GSN: The Night Owl


The Yashica Electro GSN is a 35mm Rangefinder Journalist-style camera, or what I call the “Night Owl” Rangefinder. It’s as near as I will get to a Leica for the next couple years.

“I need to have a rangefinder,” a thought went through my mind one late night in August. The Yashica Electro 35 GSN is one. A cheap one indeed, although with a very sharp contrasting lens.

When I got a second-hand unit from the Internet, it was the first camera I disassembled myself! You have to know that this baby comes with some quirks: When cocking the shutter you have to hear a loud “CLONK.” Inside is a small rubber pad and time may have destroyed it if you only hear a “pling.” The rubber material preventing light leaks can (like with many 70’s and 80’s cameras) became disintegrated. I removed it with alcohol and replaced it with foamed rubber from the DIY store.

Like most old rangefinder cameras, the viewfinder of my GSN needed cleaning. But don’t be discouraged by all of that; the web offers a variety of repair manuals and you can’t get a better rangefinder camera for such little money.

The basic technical details:

  • 35mm
  • Aperture Priority
  • f:16 — f: 1.7
  • 1/30 sec — 1/500 sec
  • 1:1.7

That’s why I called it the “Night Owl” in the beginning. It’s one of the things that make the Yashica Electro GSN interesting for Lomographers: You can capture low light situations without flash, keeping the natural atmosphere. Plus, the aperture priority lets you keep control over the depth of field.

I mostly use my GSN in low light situations like dusk and dawn, and also for taking photos of artificially-lit scenes indoors and outdoors. I also use it as a point and shoot camera for street photography.

Probably the GSN could be an addition to your collection? Give me a note or two about your experience if you get hooked too!


written by zark on 2011-12-19 #gear #yashica #street #35mm #rangefinder #review #vintage #yashica-electro-35-gsn #low-light #available-light #lomography #strasse #messsucher #kleinbild #user-review


  1. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    I love this camera!

  2. traaaart
    traaaart ·

    i just got my battery in the mail for a GSN i found at a store for $40, cant wait to try it out!

  3. clownshoes
    clownshoes ·

    Great find

  4. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Nice report :D

  5. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Best battery source = www.zbattery.com Part # tr164a, = Excell PC164a, = PX32a

  6. wuxiong
    wuxiong ·

    Nice review. I especially like the somee of the pics when the DOF is shallow and get a sort of selective focus, That is the result of aperture priority... great...<:)

  7. awitee
    awitee ·

    damn it! im actually thinking of buying one because of this article! :D

  8. zark
    zark ·

    You can get excellent adapters for most Yashica Rangefinders from Yashica Guy: www.yashica-guy.com/document/battery.html @herbert-4, @traaaart

  9. freelancer
    freelancer ·

    a fast little sexy thing ;-)

  10. freelancer
    freelancer ·

    btw....: "You can use a more common, smaller (170 mAH lithium, 150 mAh alkaline) PX28 if you jam in an extra spring and wrap the smaller battery in something to keep it centered in the Electro 35's larger battery hole." quote (www.kenrockwell.com/yashica/electro-35.htm)

  11. pesoto74
    pesoto74 ·

    Probably the most camera you can get for the money.

  12. kiri-girl
    kiri-girl ·

    Great photos!! I love yashicas... I feel like some of my favorite shots I've taken is with a Yashica Minister III, unfortunately I had to give it back to my friend. It is now on my wish list.

  13. iandevlinphoto
    iandevlinphoto ·

    i am waiting on my new battery coming through the post but im in love with mine :)

  14. iandevlinphoto
    iandevlinphoto ·

    i am waiting on my new battery coming through the post but im in love with mine :)

  15. iandevlinphoto
    iandevlinphoto ·

    i am waiting on my new battery coming through the post but im in love with mine :)

  16. feeqajamal
    feeqajamal ·

    i got one last year and so far i tried it out with two rolls of films but nothing turned up! the rolls are like new and i still can't figure out what's wrong with the camera. help? :(

  17. mapix
    mapix ·

    got 2 Canonet QL17/GIII which is a vera similar rangfinder - but both with seious trasport problem (also first time i disassembled) perhaps i really should try the GSM... thanks for the review!!

  18. thomas-matthew-wood
    thomas-matthew-wood ·

    Gorgeous images. :)

  19. iandevlinphoto
    iandevlinphoto ·

    Battery is here you've inspired me to take it back out the cupboard and shoot xmas on it :)

  20. flying_lotus
    flying_lotus ·

    I absolutely love this camera, it makes such amazingly sharp pictures!! Mine broke down after carying it in a backpack for 2 months ... definitely not a travel camera :P

    @feeqajamal : If the self-timer lever is not all the way up (it may be stuck half-way), this will prevent the shutter from releasing.

  21. tbyrdc
    tbyrdc ·

    I am bidding on one on Ebay, so wish me luck everyone :)

  22. jdestro970
    jdestro970 ·

    i think i need this camera in my life, by the reviews it sounds amazing!

  23. feeqajamal
    feeqajamal ·

    @flying_lotus : thanks! i checked and it is all the way up. shutter works fine too, can see and hear the clicks. still can't figure out what's wrong though. :/

  24. highdesertdan
    highdesertdan ·

    I got a Yashica Electro 35 from a friend in Japan who got it for free because it was debatable if it worked or how well (because it was soooo old). I found Mark Hama, who worked in the Japanese Yashica factory in the 60s, and now lives in Georgia. I sent him my camera and he said he can make almost any Electro like new for $140. When I got my Electro back from Mark, I ran a roll of Fuji Velvia 50 through it and I was blown away how accurate the auto function was, even indoors. (check my Sedona album) www.markhama.com/ <- I couldn't be happier with this guy. The Electro 35 is an amazing machine.

  25. ajagee24701
    ajagee24701 ·

    They are great cameras!

  26. bartian
    bartian ·

    I use this one as my primary camera now ,,, really like it :-)

  27. rwjemmett
    rwjemmett ·

    I have acquired one - fab results. I am going to try some night photography and add some of the findings to the book I am writing about Yashica Rangefinder Cameras.

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