Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:

Yashica RF history: Yashica Lynx 1000 - 5000 - 14 - 14e; Electro 35 - G - GS/GT - GSN/GTN; Electro GL - GX - MG1

Yashica Electro 35

by Karen Nakamura


Overview and Personal Comments

The Yashica Electro 35 is a coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera with aperture-priority automatic exposure which first came out in 1966. The Electro 35 is the first in the Electro series, which also produced the Electro 35 G, the GS/GT, and the GSN/GTN. Then there was a compact line of the Electro GL, GX, and MG1.Of the entire series, the Yashica Electro 35 GSN is perhaps the most famous and popular. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

I've been wanting an Electro 35 for a while to compare and contrast it with the others in the series and to document it for this page. You can see the clear development of the body. The Electro has all of the features of the latest models, but there are many styling differences: the Electro logo is in script, the rear film door has a separate latch (rather than a combined rewind/door latch), the styling of the over/under exposure meters, etc. But all of the good features are still found in this earliest model.

I ended up selling this unit on ebay because now that I've had it in my collection to compare/contrast it with others, I don't really need it anymore. Although it's in pristine physical connection, I think the internal connections have corroded. This is why Yashica moved to Gold connections with the Electro G. A good thorough cleaning of this camera should get it back to working condition.

The camera itself was in pristine physical condition. It's rare to see an Electro this clean. Here are my operational notes:

Physically the camera shows no large dents or dings. Here are my notes:


Below you can see the bottom plate of the camera, which is often a good indicator of use. The bottom plate is pristine, which says to me that this camera was on a shelf for a very long time. I believe that given that there is no physical damage, all that needs to be done is to clean the corroded internal contacts.



Interesting quirks

The Copal leaf shutter is entirely stepless from 1/500 to about 30 seconds. The camera is aperture-priority -- that is, you set the aperture from f/1.7 to f/16 and the camera will choose the shutter speed from 1/500 sec to 30 seconds automatically for you. It does not use through-the-lens (TTL) metering, the CdS cell is located to the right of the rangefinder, but it still does a great job. With negative film, I rarely have any imperfect exposures. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

Because it's a leaf shutter (the shutter diaphragm is located inside the lens unit rather than at the rear of the camera), the Yashica has all the benefits of leaf shutters:

If you're curious, the disadvantages of leaf shutters is:

But for fixed-lens rangefinders, leaf shutters are perfect.

The rangefinder on the Electro series is not only fully coupled (i.e., focusing the rangefinder focuses the lens) but it also has built-in parallax compensation. The common problem with rangefinders is that they aren't fully What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get because of the small amount of parallax difference between the rangefinder window and the taking lens. With the Yashica, as you focus closer, the viewfinder gridlines actually move to compensate for the amount of parallax. This is important when taking headshots or pictures of found objects.

Yashica Electros take one 5.6v PX32 mercury battery, unfortunately these have been discontinued as have their PX32A alkaline counterparts. Fortunately, you can use a 6v PX28A alkaline battery which is readily available at any Walgreens or Radio Shack. The smaller PX28As last about a year of heavy use in my experience. The Electros have a built in battery check feature which is very handy.

To the right, you can see the size difference between the PX28 and PX32. The spring that makes up the difference can be bought at any hardware store. I wrap the PX28 in a small cardboard tube (cut from a cereal box) to make up the diameter difference, put the PX28 in the camera, then follow with the spring to make up the difference in length. The camera handles the slight difference in voltage. More details are at Matt Denton's page.


Technical Details

Camera Name
Electro 35
Place of Manufacture

Body: Japan
Lens: Japan

Date of Manufacture
1966 ~ 1968
Focusing System

Fully coupled rangefinder with built-in parallax compensation
Lens use helical focusing

Fixed Lens

45mm, f/1.7, Yashinon-DX lens
Minimum focusing distance = 0.8 meters (~2.6 feet)
Right focusing (infinity on right side)
55mm thread for filters, 57.5mm lens shade


Copal shutter 30 (?) secs - 1/500
B and "flash" settings
X-flash sync at all speeds
Self-timer on lens mount

Metering System

CdS cell mounted above next to rangefinder
Aperture priority electronic exposure

Lights on top of camera / rangefinder warn of under/over exposure conditions

EV ? - ? (at ISO 100)


f/1.7 - f/16


External hot-shoe +
PC cable connection

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ASA 10 to 400

Battery type

5.6v PX32 (battery check feature)
-compatible with 6V PX32A; or 6V PX28 alkaline, with 40c adaptor

Dimensions and weight
Retail price
¥21,400 (1966)


About Yashica/Kyocera/Contax

The Yashica Corporation began making cameras in 1957, releasing its first model in 1958 (the Yashica 35). They produced a very well regarded series of twin-lens-reflex (TLR) medium format cameras under the Yashica-Mat brand and 35mm rangefinders under the Yashica Electro name. Yashica became a subsidiary of the Kyocera Corporation in October of 1983. For the next two decades, Kyocera continued to produce film cameras under the Contax marquee, including a very nice 35mm Contax SLR series (which used Zeiss lenses), a medium format system, and the Contax G1/G2 rangefinders (also with Zeiss glass).The Yashica name was only used for a small series of dental cameras and point and shoots. In March of 2005, Kyocera announced that it would cease production and sales of film and digital cameras under the Contax marquee. Thus ends 30 years of a wonderful camera line. The Contax name will most probably revert back to the Zeiss foundation, thus who knows what will happen in the future. Right now, the name "Yashica" appears to have been bought by a Chinese company for their inexpensive digital cameras.

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