Yashica Electro 35 GTN Rangefinder


Introduction and Overview

The Yashica Electro 35 series of 35mm rangefinder cameras, first launched in 1966, was one of the most popular consumer 35mm cameras of the 1960s and 1970s.

The Electro 35 series was the first electronically controlled camera which operated mainly in an aperture priority 'auto' mode and comes fitted with a step-less Copal electronic blade shutter with step-less speeds from 30 seconds to 1/500 seconds. The only other shutter modes of operation for the camera were 'flash' (1/30) and 'bulb'.

The camera is a bit of a bulk, a rangefinder, built of solid metal construction, comes with a big, clear viewfinder, and comes fitted with a sharp and fast Color-Yashinon 40mm f/1.7 lens, which is identical to an SLR lens. Film ISO range for the Electro 35 was from 15 to 500, and the camera was also fitted with a cold shoe.

ヤシカ エレクトロ35GTNの使い方 YASHICA ELECTRO35GTN How to use 1970s Rangefinder camera

Model Development

Launched initially as the Electro 35, the camera went through a series on model development which includes of cosmetic changes, increase in film ASA speed capability, gold-plated contacts to prevent oxidation of its electric circuits, and the addition of a hot shoe and PC socket. Briefly:
  • 1966 - Electro 35 
  • 1968 - Electro 35 G
  • 1969 - Electro 35 GT
  • 1970 - Electro 35 GS
  • 1973 - Electro 35 GSN, GTN


Basic Camera Features





Metering

The metering works when you half-press the shutter, and you can see the arrow indicators in the viewfinder showing you which way to turn the aperture ring to get the optimum exposure setting.

This indication is also shown on the top plate by two indicator lights colored orange (slow) and red (over). An orange light means your shutter speed is at 1/30 second or slower, while red means that your shutter speed is at 1/500 second or more.


Battery

The Electro 35 was designed to operate using a 5.6V mercury battery, which is not available anymore. This can be replaced with a 6V alkaline (PX28A or 4LR44) with which you will have to use an adapter. A battery check light is located on the back of the top plate. When pressed, and if the battery is still juicy, it will light up the two exposure indicator lights on the top plate, and a green light within the film counter window.


Using The Camera

One main issue of adding the Electro 35 series to your collection is to ensure that you are getting one whose electrics are functioning properly. This includes a functioning film forward clunk, or more sinisterly, that the Pad of Death is still alive and working.

Film Forward Clunk
When the film forward lever is operated, part of its internal mechanism also operates a spring-loaded slider that operates a set of switch points. As this slider shoots up to its original position, it hits a small rubber pad at the top of the mechanism with a bit of a clunk. This pad degenerates over time, preventing the proper operation of the camera. Remedial is a strip down to replace the rubber pad, not an easy job for someone not experienced enough with the camera.

Yashica Electro 35 Pad of Death
Replacing the light seals are also the norm when doing a clean-and-lube (CL) for vintage cameras.



Recommendation

If you are used to a film camera, then loading and unloading a 135 film cassette from the camera is as universal as can be, so are the do's and don'ts of doing film photography which you should be quite adept as well. The Electro 35 is a good camera with a fast and sharp lens, it should be fun to use, and to expect great results from it. All the best!



Resource Links:
Yashica Electro 35 GSN
Shooting with Yashica Electro 35 GTN

Popular on ImagingPixel