Yashica Electro 35 GSN

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The Electro 35 GSN in all its glory. Notice the atom symbol and the dent on the lens. I might not be able to use filters, but this dent makes this camera very special and mine.

The Yashica Electro 35 GSN is part of the Electro 35 family of rangefinders by Yashica. These sturdy and reliable rangefinders were the first electronic controlled cameras (notice the funky “atom” badge on the top left), which operated mainly in Aperture Priority mode (thus shutter speed is set automatically, unless the “F” mode or the “B” mode are chosen).

The camera runs on a single PX32 mercury battery (belonging to the beloved “Good Luck To Find One Nowadays” series), which is – of course – no longer available due to environmental concerns. It is possible, though, through the use of an adapter cylinder, to load an alkaline 4LR44 battery and it works beautifully.

There are several models of the Electro 35:

  • Electro 35 – the original model
  • Electro 35 G – some cosmetic changes and film speed up to 500 ISO, otherwise identical
  • Electro 35 GS – like the 35G, but with gold coated contacts  to prevent oxidation. Film speed range from 25 to 1000 ISO.
  • Electro 35 GT – same as above, but black
  • Electro 35 GSN – Like the GS, but with a hotshoe instead of a cold one.
  • Electro 35 GTN – Like the GSN, but black

The lens is a Yashinon… excuse me, color Yashinon 45mm f/1.7. There is also a filter thread, although my model has a dent which impedes the use of said filters, and I’m a bit worried to use pliers on it.

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The top of this camera. It looks very scientific, just like the “Atom” badge wants to tell the world. Film rewind knob, hotshoe, over/under exposure light indicators, ISO selector dial, shutter release with lock gear and thread for cable release and film advance lever.

There are three modes one can select by twisting the foremost part of the lens barrel:

  • Auto – it’s the aperture priority mode, speeds from 30s up to 1/500s (I hoped for something better in this context). With f/1.7 speed goes up to the minute, whereas at f/16 can’t go more than 3s.
  • “B” – is bulb. The longer you press, the longer the film is exposed. Pretty self explanatory.
  • “F” – is flash. Syncs at 1/30s.

The rangefinder is good, works really well, but metering is not TTL, so if filters are used you have to compensate manually. Of course, my 35 GSN-D (for “dent”) can’t use filters.

The two LEDs on top indicate whether the picture is under- or over-exposed and the arrow indicates in which direction to turn the aperture dial (convenient). The same indicators appear as two LED arrows in the rangefinder, so there is no need to take the eyes off the composition.

It’s quite an easy to use camera with good, sharp lens and precise rangefinder. It’s not the smallest, though, as it is as big as a classic SLR. Slightly larger than a Canon AE-1, actually. Build quality is excellent, as for most Japanese cameras.