Bliss (or Yashica Electro 35GS)

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My exploration of film cameras continues with a Yashica Electro 35GS rangefinder.

I found this camera in an “antique store”, the kind that is more on the brink of junk than refinement. The camera was filthy, had the barest trace of light seals left and really looked like it might be a dud, but a lens cap was still in place, the glass looked perfect and the interior was very clean. So after talking the owner down 50% to $20 I took it home. A couple of days later after a major cosmetic clean up, cobbling together a battery adapter to hold the much smaller modern battery and sorting out something that would work for replacing the seals it turned out to be fully functional and cleaned up very nicely indeed. The light meter works very well, the exposure indicator lights are fine, the rangefinder is bright and the lens clean – the only glitch is the self timer sticks about 3/4 way through. So, I popped in a roll of expired Kodak Gold 400 to test for light leaks. It was film that my mother had given me a year or two ago that probably expired in the 90’s when she last used her film cameras. And these photos are some of the results – more to come over the next while.

I will do a post that shows the camera sometime. It has a lovely look about it, and in two days I had three people admire it when carrying it around, all of them young. Today I found a square metal lens hood the right size for $4. It is from a Minolta but it does not obscure the rangefinder very much when rotated on the diagonal and hopefully won’t vignette the lens (which has no signs of vignettes without a lens hood) or block the light meter. Even if it does not work, the shade looks so cool that it should be on the camera to bring out the poseur in me.

But, this is not merely a posing accessory. It has a fast lens (45mm/f1.7) with very nice optics. It is aperture priority with no read out for shutter speed. But because it gives (on top of the camera as well as inside the view finder) a red light when one has reached the maximum shutter speed of 1/500th and a yellow warning light when you should no longer be hand holding the camera (1/30th and slower) it is easy to figure out what the shutter speed is if you care to know. It will take exposures to 30 seconds as well, which is a pretty unusual feature in any camera of this age (the GS was introduced in 1970). It is large and heavy and built like a tank. I won’t try dropping it, but I think it might go on working if I did. The camera is so big it is larger than many contemporary SLRs – much larger than the Olympus OM for instance. Even so, more than 8 million Electros were sold, probably because they are capable of making very nice pictures.

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To read more about these cameras check out Film Advance’s post about the GSN, a nearly identical but slightly more recent model (main difference is the GSN has a hot shoe for the flash); this is one of Gary Seronik’s favourite cameras and he is a guy that knows his film cameras. He is also from Victoria – one day I expect I will run into him out taking pictures, it would be nice to meet him.

If you want to know anything about Yashicas, need a manual, repair instructions, detailed images of their guts and so on, then the Yashica Guy is the web space for you.

 

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Yashica Electro 35GS, f1.7/45mm lens, Kodak Gold 400 film, scanned with Epson V700, edited in Lightroom 5. Top photo ca f11, bottom photo f1.7.

3 thoughts on “Bliss (or Yashica Electro 35GS)

  1. Pingback: Filtered | burnt embers

  2. The first camera I ever bought was a Yashica, a medium format twin lens reflex. I still have it although I haven’t shot with it in years. It had some film advance problems when last I used it but it otherwise was a fine picture taking machine. Built like a tank. Leather case. All manual, no meter. No manual necessary. I wanted a GS when they were first introduced. It seemed so advanced at the time. And it’s still doing a fine job making memories.

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    • I really like the shots that this camera, or stylish brick as it sometimes feels in the hand, has been taking. I was completely ignorant of these kinds of cameras when I first shot film (other than my childhood brownie). For me it was SLR or nothing, and I ended up with Spotmatics and nothing else for many years. Many bodies and many lenses. But I think that for most of my needs the little rangefinders and point and shoot cameras would have served just as well, or better. Funny to be finding that out now, all these years later.

      I wish this Yashica had come with a case and will be keeping my eye open for one, though that seems like wishful thinking. Though perhaps a dead camera with case can be found for the kind of price I want to pay (next to nothing).

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