Yashica Electro 35 GS

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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 GS/GT

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The Yashica Electro 35 GS is a coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera with aperture-priority automatic exposure. The Electro 35 GS/GT was released in 1970 by Yashica. The lens is a Color-Yashinon DX 1:1.7 f=45mm lens made in Japan and is identical to the one on the Electro G that precedes it and the GSN that follows it. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

Oh, the difference between the GS vs. GT and the GSN and GTN is that the 'S' stands for silver chrome, while the 'T' stands for a black paint model. Collectors being the weird things they are (I'm a user not a collector), they value the black paint models more since they are more "professional." I can't tell the difference in the photos they took. Interestingly, the black bodied GT was actually cheaper than the silver GS (¥24,500 vs ¥27,000) because chrome is much more durable than paint.

The Yashica GS traces its lineage to the Yashica Lynx of 1960 (actually the Yashica 35 of 1958 is earlier, but the family resemblance is further). With the Electro 35 in 1968, the series added the new Copal-Electro shutter, which was electromagnetically controlled. The GS only existed for about 3 years. In 1973, Yashica added a hot-shoe and changed the design of the rewind lever and called it the GSN. Pretty minor if you ask me.

So... you might ask, what differentiates the GS from the GSN? Here's an evolution chart:

1966 Electro 35 Original flagship model
1968 Electro 35 G + changes in cosmetic design
+ ASA now 12-500
+ gold contacts
1970 Electro 35 G (2nd ver)

+ revised film door
? Added "Color" designation to lens, but no change in design itself

1970 Electro 35 GS

+ cosmetic changes
+ ASA 25-1000

1973 Electro 35 GSN + flash hotshoe
+ minor changes to rewind lever
Note that there are "T" versions of the above (GT, GTN). The T indicates a black top plate as opposed to a chrome one. Source: Yashica-Guy et al.

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:

  • Very quiet. The Yashica gives only an inaudible "click." Much quieter than even a Leica M6. Because the shutter timer is electromechanical, there is no whirring during long (> 1 sec.) exposures. Just a near silent click as the diaphragm opens and then a second one when it closes.
  • Very stable. Diaphragm shutters have much less inertial mass than a focal plane shutter. And with leaf shutters, the inertial mass is centripetal, so it has no net effect on the entire camera body, thus transferring very little vibration to the camera. With a focal plane shutter, the intertial movement is unilinear and (think Newton's Law) it causes the camera to jerk slightly sideways (horizontal shutter) or vertically (vertical travel shutter).
  • Can flash sync at all speeds - even the maximum shutter speed of 1/500 sec. This is great for daylight sync photos.

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

  • The maximum shutter speed is usually 1/500 sec. Compare this to 1/1000 sec for horizontal travel shutters (e.g. Leica) and 1/8000 sec for vertical travel (all contemporary SLRs, etc.).
  • Diaphragm leaf shutters are complex and building one into each lens is prohibitively expensive. The shutter units are large. Thus, the only interchangeable lens cameras with leaf shutters are medium and large format (Mamiyas, Hasselblads, etc.).

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

The rangefinder on the GS 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.


GS/GTs 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 GSNs 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.

Please note that I have noticed some unscrupulous vendors on eBay and MercardoLibre are plagiarizing this page. If you notice this page on eBay under anything except my eBay ID (nasukaren), please notify me and I will have eBay cancel the plagiarizer's account. It's plain fraud as they are not selling the cameras pictured (obviously since it's my camera).


Technical Details

Camera Name
Electro 35 GS
Place of Manufacture

Body: Hong Kong
Lens: Japan

Date of Manufacture
1970 ~ 1973
Focusing System

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

Fixed Lens

45mm, f/1.7, Color-Yashinon lens (6 elements in 4 groups)
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 accessory cold shoe +
PC cable connection

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ASA 25 to 1000

Battery type

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

Dimensions and weight
Retail price
¥27,000 (1970)




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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