There are some entries in my collection that exist because they were found. This camera I actively sought out. Back when I was addicted to Tumblr I came across some amazing work that was shot exclusively using the Yashica Electro-35. As this was very early on on my collection, I became obsessed with this camera thinking “I can take photos like that if I had that camera” of course now I realise while a camera can have certain distinctive characteristics, the camera actually had very little to do with the images in comparison to the photographer who shot them.
The Yashica Electro-35 GT is a 35mm, Rangefinder camera. Manufactured by Yashica in Japan. The Electro 35 line was first introduced in 1966, but the GT didn’t come into production until 1970. The updated variant of the camera now had gold contacts to make the circuitry run better and an expanded range of ISO settings for the film.
The camera is aperture priority, where the photographer selects an aperture for the image, and the light meter will calculate the appropriate shutter speed for the exposure. In the case that the aperture is too wide, the camera will indicate that the image will be over exposed. And in the case of there not being enough light, the camera will indicate that a slower shutter speed will warn the photographer that a longer shutter speed will require a tripod.
Even after so many years, the light meter seems to be functioning perfectly well allowing me to focus on my composition rather than being bogged down with the minutiae of exposure.
The camera is really solid in the hand. I initially found it awkward to shoot due to the fact that it has an aperture priority exposure system. Once you get used to it however, it is incredibly straight-forward to use.
Another issue faced by these cameras (and many others of its era) is that the battery for it no longer exists. The Electro 35 was designed to operate using a 5.6V mercury battery but these have now obviously been banned due to environmental concerns. However, a 6V alkaline battery (PX28A or 4LR44) can be used, with an adaptor.
The lens is fast, with a f1.7 aperture. It has a fixed focal length of 45mm, but they did make dedicated accessory lenses for other focal lengths.
This was actually my first range finder camera which came with its own set of adjustments to my shooting style. Having only really used point & shoot or SLR cameras at this point I found I had to do more work when adjusting for paralax and I frequently left the lens cap on while shooting as it didn’t obstruct the viewfinder. Obviously over time I got used to this and adjusted my shooting style accordingly leading to lees missed shots from my own brand of being an idiot.
What I love about this camera is the design. Ergonomically, it’s just beautiful. Everything is where you want it to be, and the icing on the cake is that it also sports a handy shutter lock to prevent you losing valuable shots because the camera has fired in your bag.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, this camera was on my need list for a few years and I was super fortunate that one crossed my path for £25 in a vintage market. If you’re looking to get into rangefinders this is a really nice place to start. Prices at the moment aren’t too bad. You can pick one up in decent condition for around £50 although I’ve seen them listed between £35 and £150 at the time of posting.
This was my first rangefinder camera and it was the first one to make me think about cameras other than SLRs as being something truly useful in the field of photography. Since then I’ve added a few more to the collection including I the Kodak retina IIc, Olympus XA, and one of my latest acquisitions, a Mamiya super 23!