View Full Version : Better focussing than a Yashica Electro 35

08-11-2004, 11:17
Hi, and apologies for long first post.

Wanting to try a "proper"-ish camera a couple of years ago I bought a Yashica Electro 35 for GBP 30. I'd previously been using an XA2 but was frustrated with too many shots being out of focus due to the guess focus system (the XA2 does not have the coupled rangefinder).

Lots of things about the Electro 35 are great, esp. the fast lens (I
don't think I've ever used a flash with it). However, things that
aren't great are the size, weight and most of all I find the
focus-system very fiddly. It's hard to see the two images in the fuzzy blur in the middle of the lens, and often I need to search for a vertical edge to focus on. Low light focussing is particularly hard,
annoying since low light photography is one of the camera's strengths.

I recently bought a Minilux for a song, but aside from the fact that
it broke after 11 shots I actually found it slower than using a fully
manual camera (EV compensation in 0.5 sec with a flick of the ASA
dial, no flash to have to switch off constantly)

Short of going AF (Konica Hexar AF, Minilux, Contax G series etc.),
can anyone recommend a cheap-ish rangefinder, preferably with some automation (ideally aperture priority) and a decent lens that has a better focus-system? Sadly I'm not in the economic bracket of a Hexar RF and am scared by the fully manual nature of the Voigtlanders.

I was considering a Konica Auto S3. Any other suggestions?



back alley
08-11-2004, 11:47
hi abdul and welcome to the forum.

there are many compact rangefinders that would fit your needs, however...you must keep in mind that most of these cameras are from the 70s and their viewfinders have grown dim with time.
my first camera was/is an olympus 35rc. it's a great camera and still going strong after 30+ years. this past year i sent it off to the repair shop to have it cleaned, lubed and adjusted (cla'd) and the view through the finder is wonderful now, very clean and bright and most easy to focus. it cost me about $100 canadian and is worth it to me, as i now have a camera that just might last me another 30 years.

when you look for your next compact rangefinder camera consider the cost of a good cleaning along with the initial purchase price.

another thing to consider- is that you might be able to do a basic cleaning yourself if you are handy and so inclined. there are a few here on the forum that do quite a bit of work on their own cameras and might be able to guide you through some of the basics.

as far as specific cameras, well, i like the small olympus cameras, the 35rc/rd/sp. canonets are very popular, the ql17 in particular. minolta 7sll, konica auto s3. these are all smaller than the yashica also.


08-11-2004, 11:50
Abdul, you entered the rangefinder world by the back door: get yourself a Canonet, preferably the G-III QL 17.

I used to have a Yashica... talk about a loooooong stroke to advance the film. And the size! :eek: It was terribly unwieldy compared to my Canonet! I used it for a number of rolls, liked the lens wide open (creamy, nice bokeh) but the size was simply the issue with me. It's not a camera to carry in your pocket!

The Canonet, in turn, is extremely pocketable. There are several kinds and variations, but the universally acclaimed one is the queen model, undisturbed for years and years of production, and now fairly sought after: the Canonet G-III QL 17.

There are lots of interpretations about the meaning of the alphabet soup that comes after the name but I won't mention them here; suffice it to say that it's a shutter priority camera, whose meter is powered by a mercury battery (but you can use the PX625 kind instead, albeit slightly "overpowered" in the meter, but still giving you good exposures). These are tough, cute cameras, and you'll become addicted. All you need is the camera, a lens cap, the Canolite flash (they work together in nice, harmonious automation) and that's it. One thing more: if you turn the aperture ring away from the "A" mark, the camera turns into a manual, meterless beauty. If set on "A", you have a practical AE (shutter priority) camera with a lens that works wonders from f5.6 on.

Get acquainted with the Canonet lineage HERE, at the Canon Camera Museum. (http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/camera/f_camera.html).

Good luck shopping!

08-11-2004, 12:25

Your Yashica may just need a good cleaning. My Electro-35's are among the brightest viewfinders I have.

There is not much choice available in aperture priority rangefinder cameras. We recently had a discussion elsewhere in this forum on the same topic. In my case, the onlyaperture preferred rangefinders I have are an Olympus XA and a pair of Electro-35's.

I think the shutter-preferred trap-needle technology was pretty much state-of-the-art at about the same time that rangefinder camera popularity peaked. Yashica claimed to be pushing the tecnological envelope back then and the Olympus was retro before retro was cool.



08-11-2004, 12:31
I think both suggestions are quite lovely - the Canon Canonet and the Olympus RC/RD/SP series. The Konica Auto S3 could also do you well. If you *like* the XA2 except for the zone focussing, you might consider the XA - it is a rangefinder with a lovely lens.

For a bit more money/searching, you could also consider the Yashica Electro CC - smaller than the GT/GS/GSN/GTN series. It also has a shorter lens, very nice black finish. It would probably cost you a bit more than a good Konica Auto S3.

Bang for the buck, though - I'd go with the Olympus RC. Plentiful, reliable, good rangefinder patch (they seem to hold up well), very small, and dead cheap, compared to the nicer RD/SP series.

Pretty good lens - just a step down from the Electro series you have now.

However, you probably won't go far wrong with any of the suggestions that have been made. All good, to my way of thinking. It is merely a matter of finding the right size/price point that suits you best.

As mentioned - older rangefinders can vary with the rangefinder patch - they do fade out over time. That's an important thing to determine when you go looking for a good one.

Best Regards,

Bill Mattocks

Brian Sweeney
08-11-2004, 13:14
I cleaned the VF/RF on my Yashica. The improvement was incredible. You may want to look at the yashicaguy guide for cleaning the Viewfinder. Mine is sharp and crisp now, but was dismal before.

08-13-2004, 03:07
Thanks so much for this info. What a sober and useful set of responses. It really sounds like I need to clean the rangefinder and maybe realign it as well. I'll check the Yashica guy site and if it looks to much I'll seek the help of the professionals.

However, now the purchase lust is upon me I fear it won't stop me buying a Hexar AF/G1/T2.

back alley
08-13-2004, 04:29
"However, now the purchase lust is upon me I fear it won't stop me buying a Hexar AF/G1/T2."

...or a bessa r/r2 or leica m2/m3 or maybe an old canon 7/7s/p or...:)


08-13-2004, 06:24
I started with a GSN, great camera, got a Canon GIII QL17 and never looked back, great camera and plentiful on ebay for a song. I also have a Yashica 35CC, great camera, 35mm lens, apeture priority but only a 1/250 top shutter speed (great for slower films ISO 100).
Another is the Olympus SP, wicked sharp 42mm lens, spot meter option, shutter priority and metered manual mode, excellent camera and well worth the additional cost.
You can't go wrong with any of these and they cover a price range from 10.00 to 100.00 bucks, of course my M6 cost a little more but hey, who's counting?

Welcome to the forum, now let's see some pictures.

08-13-2004, 09:56
Welcome to the forum Abdul ! Here's another vote for the G-III QL, they are great little cameras with superb lenses. However, all what the others say is completely true, so I'm afraid you have a huge range of options available :)

Good luck !


08-13-2004, 14:50
I vote that you clean the rangefinder/viewfinder. It's not that hard to take the top off a GSN. After a few tries its a ten minute no-brainer. Just don't lose the screws.

Here's an available light shot of Alton's Daithi Sproule and singer Julee Glaub taken at our camp under a old fluorescent light that has been grating my nerves since 1970.

Jon Flanders

08-13-2004, 15:49
Although I'm not a real fan of Leica, the rangefinder on the M3 is so wonderful. While not exactly light, with the collapsing 50mm lens, it will fit and carry quite nicely in a coat or vest pocket. I'm not real fond of the hassle to load or change film, but you can get used to it.

08-13-2004, 20:37
My vote is for the Canonet GIII. Brightest viewfinder
I have seen in a rangefinder.

Rich Silfver
08-13-2004, 20:46
As far as I know there is no rangefinder viewfinder brighter than the Leica M3's

08-14-2004, 05:40
Abdul -

I personally recommend that you find an Olympus XA. Not one of the numbered versions, but the original XA. The aperture priority AE is one of the best. The lens is fantastic, and it is amazingly compact. I keep one with ALL the time. Much of the time I shoot without lookin thru the viewfinder. With its 35mm f/2.8 lens you can take advantage of DOF for some great shots. It takes a bit of practice to learn how to see what your camera will capture, but it is worth it. The coupled rangefinder is quite accurate, but it also takes a bit of practice to learn how to use it well. I shot the attached photo while driving without composing thru the viewfinder.

back alley
08-14-2004, 09:21
i hope you had both hands on the wheel!:)


08-14-2004, 13:57
Just one hand, Joe. The XA is real easy to use one-handed if you're not focusing the rangefinder.

back alley
08-14-2004, 18:19
but at least both eyes open?

08-14-2004, 18:46

back alley
08-14-2004, 18:54
now you're startin' to scare me!

08-14-2004, 19:05
Nothin' to it Joe. Just hang on.

10-06-2004, 17:51
I just bought my first ever Yashica camera, an Electro 35 GSN. Got it on ebay for $11.27. It's in remarkable shape. Of course the battery issue was easily solved by going to Yashica_guy on the internet and getting the adapter plus new, buy it anywhere battery. Got used to the two little lights, fired off a couple of rolls of color (the darkroom I lease at a nearby publishing company has a plugged drain, so I couldn't do B&W), and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the images.

As for the rangefinder, it's quite bright - nothing like my old M3 - but good enough.

Thanks all for the tip about cleaning the VF/RF.

Here I am with a high zoot Maxxum 7 system that I haven't carried since I bought the GSN. Just me, my GSN, and my Yashica T4 Super.

11-11-2004, 18:36
I've got a bunch of cameras (Maxxum 7, two Spotmatics, Yashica T4 Super, Yashica Mat 124G, Minolta SRT101) and a couple of months ago I bought a Yashica Electro 35 GSN.

I had to put in a new light seal kit and a battery, but it's fun to use and has a lovely lens. If you have trouble focusing you should definitely clean the RF/VF. Ought to make a big difference. Further, it has a very quiet shutter release.

Not to the camera's credit is its bulk, but I rather like that - no heavier than one of my Spotmatics - feels like a real camera. However, the smaller Canonet is doubtless worth picking up. Just don't give up on the Yashica. Clean it up and then decide.