Today’s analog device is a camera from our own collection: the classic analog rangefinder camera Yashica Electro 35 GS.
Will this camera be my go-to street photography camera?
I have bought this particular camera back in 2015, just based on her look. I am still in love with the look of this camera. It might be the rounded edges but somehow this camera attracts me a lot. Before taking a single shot I did a little research on Google to see what I can expect; pad of death, discontinued batteries, and spiderman. I never used this camera before and I wasn’t sure if my particular camera would have one of the known Electro 35 issues or if there would be any light leaks, even.
(FYI: At the moment there are two of these beauties in our collection; the Electro 35 GS and the Electro 35 GSN.)
Pad Of Death
No it is not a lost movie of my childhood hero Bruce Lee. Pad of Death is a particular problem with some of the Yashica electro 35. It comes down to the camera not advancing the film roll and not having a “Clunk” sound.
I won’t even try to explain how to fix this problem as there are great explanation/tutorials online, like How to fix Yashica Electro 35 Pad Of Death
The only thing i did was to listen to a sound when advancing the film, and yes i am hearing some kind of “Clunk, Glunk”. Next issue the battery.
When using vintage cameras you might come across the “where can i buy this part / how do i fix this” issue. As is the case with finding an original battery for the Electro 35 – a discontinued battery – 5.6v PX32. Left battery on this photo is what an original Electro 35 battery looks like:
But luckily for us, there are a couple of solutions;
(src: Battery Adapter for Yashica GSN)
(src: Mike Eckman )
- people like Yashica Guy make a battery adapter
- you can get creative with tape
- you can do like i did and just stack a CR123 and 2 LR44 batteries on top of each other and make your first “Frankenstein battery”
I opt for the latter “Frankenstein battery” and in my opinion simplest solution just stack 1x CR 123A + 2x LR44. Just be aware the original px32 is a 5.6v battery. My 3 batteries are equal to 6v (= 3v + 2x 1.5v)
Notice also in photo 2, how the batteries are stacked. The + sign of the CR 123A battery is pointing towards you!
Click or Not
Now that you got your camera battery working (there is a neat little battery check button on the back of the camera and a green light will flash on the right side of your camera), you are able to use the “light meter option”. It works quite simple but not as any other camera I own. By half-pressing the shutter button you might see a Yellow arrow and Red arrow lightening up in the viewfinder or on top of the Electro 35.
Yellow = underexposed -> turn aperture to the left -> more light needed
Red = overexposed -> turn aperture to the right -> less light needed
Something I totally forgot to do while using this camera on the streets. I will update this review as soon as I or some else have tried zone focusing with this camera.
The Amazing Spiderman (2012)
Well, I guess the director or screenplay writer also felt in love with the look of this camera. But what I remember (yes I am also vintage); the camera, spiderman used to use in the Marvel comics looked more like a Nikon or Leica.
(src: Marvel Wiki)
Poor Man’s Leica
Nah, not every rangefinder is a poor man’s Leica. Came across a couple of blog posts stating the Yashica Electro 35 is a poor man’s Leica, but i won’t agree. The Yashica Electro 35 GS is a 35mm rangefinder camera and that’s about it for comparison with a Leica****
What’s a rangefinder you might ask?
On the streets
Ok, when I went out with the Yashica and i felt a bit weird. I had the camera around my neck and it felt quite heavy. Walking around didn’t feel OK and compared to any of my other point-and-shoot camera (Olympus mju II, Yashica T4, Yashica T5) stealth mode with this camera a NO-NO.
But it looks cool and two persons came up to me to say they really liked my camera. Focussing and trying to align the 2 diamonds took me a while to get used too.
Let’s listen closely to our Yashica Electro
My Yashica Electro 35 GS likes:
- stellar looking camera
- camera with a lot of character
- shutter sounds is quit silent
- great for testing/doing zone focussing
- great 1.7 lens
My Yashica Electro 35 GS dislikes:
- too big and heavy for my day-by-day streetphotography
- not a point and shoot
- found difficult to shoot moving people (or objects)
My conclusion so far, the Yashica Electro 35 wouldn’t be my day-by-day shooter but when i am going to a fashion week to shoot me some streetwear the Yashica will certainly be one of my filmcamera’s to take with me.
Other, more technical and usable Yashica Electro 35 reviews:
Link to the Electro 35 GS manual (src: butkus.org who else?):
Manual for the Yashica 35 GS camera by Butkus
*disclaimer: my reviews aren’t technical or technical correct. Reviews are just my take on a particular (analog) camera. It’s very subjective and might even offend some of you, my apologies in advance
**disclaimer: language, as English isn’t my mother language i will make a lot of (spelling) mistakes
***disclaimer: i have/had a serious case of G.A.S (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)
****Note 2 self: One day i will shoot with my own Leica camera FYI: As of May 2020 I am the proud owner of a Leica M2 😉