Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Yashica Electro 35 GSN
Back in the early 1970's the concept of the discount store was fairly new. I can still remember when the local or chain department store was the dominate force in retail. Where I grew up there was a small discount chain called K's Merchandise Mart that was very popular. They had a catalog which would show the normal price for an item and then show K's discount price. In a more trusting time and with a lot less price info available than today, K's prices looked pretty good. And I did find when I went looking for my first serious camera that K's prices for cameras beat the local merchants. They actually compared well with the big mail order camera stores once shipping was considered. So K's was the place that I hoped to find a camera that I liked. The selection was somewhat limited in that they only carried Yashica and Minolta. Still I remember being enamored with the Yashica Electro 35 GSN. I was fascinated by the low light potential of the Electro 35's f/1.7 lens. That seems funny when looking back on it, since the kind of photography that I grew to prefer seldom needed a large aperture.
In the early 1970's there still was some debate in 35mm circles about if a rangefinder or an SLR was the better choice. As far as cameras that professionals were buying the SLR had already won. Leica was the only company still making a rangefinder aimed at professionals. Still there remained a market for fixed lens rangefinders for the consumer that wanted something better than a Kodak Instamatic. The Yashica Electro 35 GSN and the earlier Yashica Electro 35's were in this class. And the Yashica Electro 35 was very successful. Around 8 million were sold from 1966 to 1977. The Yashica Electro 35 GSN automatic exposure worked great for the casual photographer, however its lack of a manual option and fixed lens didn't appeal to my photographic ambitions.
So as I learned more about the limitations of the Yashica Electro 35 GSN I decided to pay a little more and go with an SLR. And with that I forgot about the Yashca Electro 35 GSN. That was until a few years ago when I got to looking at film cameras on Ebay. It is pretty hard to look at the film cameras on Ebay and not come across one of the versions of the Yashica Electro 35.
Seeing one bought back the memories of pondering that camera years ago. When I saw how cheap they were I had to get one. I think it may have been my first Ebay camera purchase. The one I got seemed almost brand new and it included a battery adapter. I believe that I may have experienced as much pleasure in getting my hands on this camera as I have with any camera that I have acquired since then.
Which is why it came as a surprise to me to find that I had not written anything about the Yashica Electro 35 GSN. Probably this was because by the time I started doing this blog I no longer was using the Yashica Electro 35 GSN much. While the camera gives excellent results, along with being mostly a pleasure to use, I found that when it came to rangefinders that I preferred the more compact ones. Still I do believe the Yashica Electro 35 GSN is a film camera to be experienced. And there are not many 35mm film cameras that can give such good results for so little money. If you do look for one be picky and look for one in excellent condition that the buyer will guarantee to work. It shouldn't take long to find one for a good price.
If you want more details on the Yashca Electro 35:
Yashica 35mm Rangefinder Chronology & Specifications
From Matt's Classic Cameras
Lastly some pictures. One thing I have to add is that the colors that the Yashica Electro 35 GSN gives are some of the most true to what I saw of any lens that I have used.