Yashica Electro 35 GTN

Film Camera Review: Yashica Electro 35 GTN

Film Camera Review:

Yashica Electro 35 GTN Rangefinder Film Camera

'One of the most popular 35mm film cameras of the 1960s and 1970s'

Introduction and Overview

The Yashica Electro 35 GTN (Black), and the Electro 35 GTS (Silver), produced by Yashica in 1973, were the final two models of the Yashica Electro 35 series of 35mm rangefinder cameras. The series, the first electronically-controlled camera that operated mainly in an aperture priority 'auto' mode, was first launched in 1966 and was one of the most popular consumer 35mm camera series of the 1960s and 1970s.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, View

The Electro 35 is fitted with a fixed 6-elements in 4-groups Color-Yashinon 40mm f/1.7 lens, a reputedly sharp lens that is identical to the one with a mount for SLR cameras, a Copal electronic blade shutter with a shutter lock and a step-less speed from 30 seconds to 1/500 seconds, a flash sync speed of 1/30 second, and B. The camera accepts film ISO speeds from 15 to 500 and comes with 8-second delay self-timer, and for the first model, a cold shoe.

The coupled range/viewfinder focusing has a minimum focusing distance of 0.8 meters. Metering is via a CdS cell located on the front of the top frame of the camera, adjusted for over- and underexposure by a pair up Up and Down control arrows. Aperture control for ambient lighting condition is by a dial with settings for Bright Sun (F16/F11/F8), Heavy Overcast, or Open Shade (F5.6/F4/F2.8), and Indoors (F2/F1.7).

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Model Development

Launched initially as the Electro 35, the camera went through a series on model development which includes cosmetic changes, an increase in film ASA speed capability, gold-plated contacts for the G-model updates 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

A bit of bulk when compared to other compact makes and models, the Electro 35 GTN is not one you can slip in your pocket or handbag, lugging or carrying it around is definitely with the strap hanging down your neck or across the shoulder.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Front

A simple rectangular front with only the lens mount extending out of the body, and on the front of the top plane, from left to right, an elongated CdS cell window, and another that houses the rangefinder parallax window and the viewfinder window.

On the lens barrel itself, from front to back, are the shutter selection dial with settings for B, Auto, and flash exposure modes, the lens aperture dial with both F-stop numerals and ambient light icons, the self-timer lever, the depth of field scale, and at the base of the lens barrel, the focus distance concentric.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Top

On the top plane, on the left end, is the film rewind crank which is also the pull-up film back latch release. Next to it is the hot shoe, Red and Yellow over- and underexposure warning lights, film ISO speed setting ring, shutter-release lock and cable-release socketed shutter button, film forward lever, and completing the lineup, the film frame counter, and battery checker illuminator.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Back

On the back of the top plane are the viewfinder eyepiece and battery check button and panel. The rest of the camera back is occupied by the plain hinged film back.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Bottom

On the bottom plane, the film rewind button, tripod socket, and battery chamber cover.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Film box

The film box is a 35mm film camera standard quick-load system with the film canister chamber on the left of the film box, the shutter window, sprocket gear, and multi-slot take up-spool.

Film Loading and Rewind

Film loading is again the standard as used on most other 35mm film cameras, with the film tab end inserted into one of the slots on the inner side of the take-up spool. The film is wound emulsion side up. Use the standard two-blank shots to bring the unexposed part of the film to frame 1.

Film rewind is manual, press the film rewind release button on the bottom plate of the camera, and turn the film rewind crank clockwise until the rewind is complete before taking the film out for processing.

Viewfinder Readout

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Viewfinder readout
The Electro 35 GTN is fitted with a frame-lined bright frame with a small rangefinder parallax display located in the middle of the image frame.

The Yellow under- and Red overexposure arrows are located above the etched frame-line, displayed when the situation warrants it.

The Yellow arrow indicates insufficient light for hand-held photography and calls for the camera to be secured on a tripod, or used with a flash unit, while the Red arrow indicates overexposure and calls for a smaller lens aperture opening.

Shooting in 'AUTO' Mode

The recommended way of using the Electro 35 GTN is to set the camera to its 'Auto' or aperture-priority mode, use the left and right arrows to set the optimum aperture opening for the framed image, and shoot away.

Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Camera controls

Metering is activated when the shutter button is half-pressed, and the exposure measurement is taken off the ambient lighting condition as pre-set by the lens aperture opening. A display with neither the under- of overexposure arrows lighting up means that exposure is correct.

To use the self-timer, move the lever all the way down after the film has been properly forwarded, and actuate the delay by releasing the shutter.

While double exposures and exposure compensation are not featured on the Electro 35, depth of field distance estimates can be read visually from the depth of field scale on the lens barrel.

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.

Camera Body Weight

The Yashica Electro 35 GTN weights 750 grams without batteries.

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

Yashica Electro 35 Pad of Death POD P.O.D. 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 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!


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