The Yashica Electro 35 GSN/GTN is the fourth and final if the electro series rangefinders. Introduced in 1973 it was the culmination of the previous versions with a few improvements, one being the ability to select an ASA/ISO up to 1000.
“__The Yashica Electro 35 is an aperture-priority camera. Pick your aperture, and the Yashica Electro 35 selects the shutter speed, from 1/500 up to thirty seconds or more!__” – kenrockwell.com
With this being said, this rangefinder has flexibility and does a bit of hand holding. Now this is not a bad thing. As Lomographers we are typically using plastic cameras with little to no adjustment, coming from this and grabbing a rangefinder can be a bit intimidating. However the Yashica’s ease of use combined with the basics of photography one can enjoy using this camera. It also has a built in light meter to adjust the shutter apeed based on aperture setting. As I mentioned before, the user has the ability to adjust the ASA/ISO from 25-1000. The basic settings also include an Automatic mode, “B”, or bulb setting for long exposures and Flash setting, whether it be a hot shoe flash or PC socket flash attachment. Pretty slick for a camera that one can find on eBay relatively inexpensively.
While were talking about settings, lets focus on the aperture adjustment ring and focus ring, no pun intended. Aperture can be adjust all way up to F1.7 and all the way down to F16, no too shabby. The focus ring is great because it is also an exercise in patience, the user can’t always just fire off shots, it takes a bit of finesse too. You see, because the Yashica Electro 35 is a rangefinder it uses mirrors to relay info to the viewfinder, then using the focus ring one would align 2 separate images of the subject into focus. Now this becomes a bit easier the more you use the camera, on the focus ring are measurement ticks, the user can estimate the distance to the subject, look through the viewfinder and quickly align the images for a quicker shot.
The Yashica Electro 35 originally used a mercury battery to power the light meter, now these are difficult to come by these days so there are adapters out there that will enable one to to use an alkaline battery. Here’s a link to one source, http://www.yashica-guy.com/document/battery.html, you can also check on eBay or just use the Google. The camera is functional without the battery, however the shutter speed is locked on 1/500th of a second.
If you happen to pick up one of these gems, chances are the foam seal has deteriorated some. It actually gets pretty funky and turns into a tar-like consistency, rubbing alcohol and a plethora of Q-Tips can remove this nasty product. It’ll take some time to thoroughly clean it, but just take your time and be patient. Here are some examples after I removed the funk and shot without any seal, neat leaks.
And here are some shots with the camera all taped up, still no foam seal. Actually these shots are with the Auxiliary Tele lens, but that’ll be a discussion for another time.
The lens is quick and sharp. I’m borrowing a friends light meter to try and gauge how accurate the Yashica’s built in light meter still is. So far I’m happy with this new experience, and encourage others to check out the Yashica family. With its solid feel and nostalgic looks, the Yashica Electro 35 is a fun way to broaden your horizons as Lomographer. If you can find one on the cheap, don’t hesitate to add it to your analogue collection.