The poor man's rangefinder

Patina: Yashica Electro 35 GSN

February 17, 2012 Tech : Cameras By Photo by Chris Gampat

While the Yashica name is rarely whispered outside die-hard enthusiast groups, the name (and brand) holds an important part of photo history. Take for example the Yashica Electro 35 GSN fixed lens rangefinder camera. If you’re lusting after a Leica rangefinder or getting hot and bothered about some of Fujifilm’s latest digital options, like this one, you may want to head on over to eBay or Craigslist and check out the stalwart yet still stunning Electro 35 GSN like ours pictured above. Combining old-time craftsmanship with lots of durability, this camera is one that will serve duty as a constant photographic companion long after you’ve sold off that digital job.

Harkening back to the 1970’s, the Electro 35 GSN was the camera to have — and for good reason too. Primarily, the aperture priority operation made it very simple to use. Most controls are positioned around the lens; like the silky smooth aperture ring that clicks into place at every f-stop, reminding you of its timeless photographic history.

Focusing is also a different story. To achieve focus, simply put the viewfinder to your eye and watch your subject come into focus as you manually turn the focusing ring. Click the shutter. Turn the advance lever. Be satisfied. And if you’re feeling extra creative, a hot shoe flash mount or shutter release cord can be attached.

Today, you’ll need to use adapters to use modern batteries, but any inconvenience will quickly fade away once you see the first shot captured through the ultra-sharp 45mm f1.7 lens. Running rolls of film — popular selections like Kodak Portra for color or Ilford XP2 for black and white — through it will produce images that no combination of iPhone+app can duplicate. With cameras in excellent condition available for $40 with a case, the only challenge you’ll face is explaining where all your amazing photos came from.

More photos of (and from) the camera below.

Written and photos by Chris Gampat

Yashica Electro 35 GSN