The Yashica Electro 35 GSN is one of the late models of the Electro 35 rangefinder series with the first model apppeared in 1966. The GSN was introduced in 1973 and is the first in the whole series to include a hot-shoe. The Electro 35 series was highly popular in its days and even today, almost every camera collector I have seen own at least one of these.
The Electro 35 GSN is an aperture-priority only camera. In other words, there is no manual control on the shutter speeds. Exposure compensation is also not available which means to override the automatic exposure, you need to adjust the ASA film speed to fool the camera. The “auto” setting on the shutter speed “ring” will let the camera to set the shutter speed “steplessly” from 1/500 seconds to 30 seconds depending on ambient light. Some users also claim the camera can do automatic exposure well beyond its stated 30 seconds limit although I have no chance to try it myself. There are also two warning lights on the top plate indicating over-exposure and lower than 1/30 seconds shutter speed chosen. The “flash symbol” will set the camera at 1/30 seconds. This is mainly for indoor flash photos as 1/30 seconds seems to be a good balance between handheld steadiness and slow-sync. Unlike the focal plane shutter of a SLR or the Leica M rangefinders, the Electro 35 uses a in-lens leaf shutter which can do flash sync at all speeds. This is for sure a plus for fill-flash at bright sunny day. To do this, you need to set the shutter to “auto”, not “flash”. There is also a “B’ mode available.
The Electro 35 GSN uses a 5.6V PX-32 mercury battery in which it is long banned. Solutions on making alternatives are mentioned on several Internet websites including an battery adapter that you can purchase . The camera shutter will operates at 1/500 seconds at ALL 3 settings when there is no battery. In other words, you are forced to use ASA400 film and do Sunny-16 on the aperture if you want to shoot without battery. It is very limited but it can be done and it does not mean you cannot get good pictures from it.
The lens of the Electro 35 GSN is a fast and sharp Yashinon 45mm f1.7. One thing special of this lens is, in my personal opinion, it gives a special and unique color that I haven’t seen from other lenses that I had used (see photo below).
The Story behind my own Electro 35 GSN…
This camera is my family camera when I was born and also my first camera when I started in photography 20+ years agao. Personally, I don’t really like this camera, not just because of the limited control on exposure but also of its size. Having a fast f1.7 lens makes the GSN almost the same size as a mid-size 35mm SLR. However, the super quiet leaf-shutter (try compare it side-by-side with a Leica M rangefinder and you will see!) and its f1.7 lens does make this a good choice for street photography. Recently, I repaired the light-seals of it but there is still something wrong with its electric circuit that it won’t power up. Thus, I was shooting Sunny-16 when I tested run the camera.
Status: In Collection