Yashica GS rangefinder
(SLR, single-lens reflex, cameras showed us the true view, directly through the camera lens -- hence the SL part. The R part came from the mirror, which allowed us to look through the lens, flipping up when we pressed the shutter button, exposing the film to the light.
Rangerfinders, by contrast, mounted two viewfinders above the lens, so we saw an offset image. There were two viewfinders, so that as we rotated the focus ring, one moved and we knew the image would be in focus when the two images merged into one.)
But rangefinders, with their extra pieces of glass, look sexier -- they looked more important. So, I went looking on eBay for the sexiest I could find, and that I could afford. It ended up being a Yashica GS for $50 from Portugal. See image at right.
About the Yashica Electro 35 GS
Yashica got its start in the early 1960s when two employees left Canon and made a near-exact duplicate of the Leica rangefinder, that Leica still the most storied camera of all time. After a time, they moved to make cameras of their own design. The G series came out in the mid-1960s and is important to history for these reasons:
- It was the first camera ever with electronics that automated photo taking: setting the aperture caused the camera to select the shutter speed -- aperture-priority in camera-speak. Hence, Electro in the name.
- The G in the name refers to gold-plated contacts, which allows the camera to continue operating fifty years later with no corrosion problems.
The 45mm lens is slightly wide-angle, and the aperture maxes out at f1.7, with a shutter speed range of 1/500 to 30 seconds. My model, the GS, came out in 1970.
Later, Yashica came out with possibly the handsomest SLR of all time, the FX-3. See figure at left.
Powering Up the GS
But the old Electro has a problem. It used a mercury 5.7V battery that is no longer manufactured to power its electronics. Fortunately, capitalism wins the day, as the camera is popular enough that entrepreneurs manufacture adapters for modern batteries to fit.
- Duracell PX28A or 28A
- Energizer 4LR44 or A544
- Kodak K28A
These all are 6V batteries, which is okay as far as voltages go. I found a 4LR44 at a local battery supplier for $6.
Adapters you can find on eBay. The one I got was 3D printed and seems to be well-made from https://www.ebay.ca/itm/203839591583 ($7). See the photo at right for the camera's bottom, the battery, and the battery adapter (orange).
When you insert the battery, make sure you note which end is positive, as both ends of the battery look the same.