Yashica Electro 35 GX
by Karen Nakamura
The Yashica Electro 35 GX is a small coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera with aperture-priority automatic exposure. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.
Released in 1975, 2 years after the Electro GSN (1973), the GX was the last of the Electro series and was placed at the top-class (it was also the most expensive). I have the feeling the GX was designed as the compact version of the GSN rather than as its replacement, as they were both manufactured during much of the same period. Unfortunately, sales of the GX must have been rather weak as it's very rare. It's a great little camera, so if you find one for sale, buy it!
The GX was smaller and lighter (697g=>580g; 17%) than the GSN. Furthermore, the lens is a 40mm f/1.7 rather than a 45mm f/1.7. I prefer the slightly wider angle of view of the 40mm. Some say that the 40mm was designed with the help of Zeiss/Contax, but that's only a rumor I heard on the web. Sigh... If only it were a f/1.4 instead of an f/1.7! Oh well, you can't have it all.
The other main beef is that the GX only takes up to ASA 800 film. Why design the perfect low-light camera and not have it compatible with ASA 3200 film such as Kodak's TMax P3200?
The lens on the camera really sparkles and is excellent in moderate to low-light. It's my camera of choice for street, available light indoor and twilight photography. This camera replaces the Yashica Electro 35 GSN that I've been using for casual street photography. My main beef with the GSN was that it was too big and heavy for carrying in your pocket. I loved everything about it but it just took up too much space (might as well bring the Canon EOS-3).
Unfortunately the GX's lens suffers from contrast reducing flare in direct sunlight (backlit situations, etc.). It really needs an auxiliary lens hood. B&H Photo has a $4.95 generic brand rubber hood that will fit the 52mm screw-in filter mount. I tried it but it covers too much of the viewfinder view. So it doesn't look like there's a good way to avoid flare except to not take this camera outdoors in the sun.
|GX lens shade photographs courtesy of the NotReality.org blog|
Yashica Lens Shade
The hood for the Yashica GX is pretty rare. Cameron Stephen (who writes the NotReality.org blog) has kindly given me permission to use his photograph of his GX with the hood as well as a photograph of the box with the hood itself. Thanks!
p.s. René Olde Olthof wrote in saying: I read that you were looking for a lenshood for the Yashica GX. A tip from a GSN owner: try an Olympus lenshood for the f1,2/55mm lens. It's a rigid slip over hood with a fastening screw on the side. Fits perfectly well on my GSN. Thanks for the tip, René!
As mentioned above, the Electro 35 GX was released in 1975 by Yashica and was made until 1980. The serial number of my body is #8030000x and was made in Japan. The lens is a Color-Yashinon DX 1:1.7 f=40mm lens made in Japan. The GX retailed in 1975 for ¥35,000. The exchange rate was approx ¥292/US$1in 1975 so that comes out to US$119. Taking inflation into account with the AIER calculator, that's $400 in 2002 dollars. By the end of the model run in 1980, the yen-dollar rate had plummeted to about ¥200/$ but inflation in the U.S. intervened which made it $175 in 1980, or $381 in 2002 dollars. To put it into modern perspective, the GX was more expensive than a point-and-shoot, but was about the same price as a low-end SLR designed to introduce people into 'serious' photography. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.
Ultimately, the GSN outlived the GX by 7 years. The GX was discontinued in 1980 after only 5 years of production, while the GSN lived on until 1987.
I purchased my GX at an auction in North Saint Paul, MN in January of 2003 for such ridiculously low price that I can't print it here (I was the only bidder). In the real world, GXs are pretty rare especially ones that are in mint condition like mine. I guess I was super-lucky. My Yashica rangefinder collection is now looking pretty complete: Electro 35, Electro G, Electro 35 GSN, 35 GX, MG-1, and the Lynx 14. There are more - the GL and the black GTN and GT - but they don't have much appeal for me right now. I guess after briefly owning 4 GSNs at the same time due to a quirk in the fabric of the universe, I'm getting a big of G-astric indigestion.
The Copal shutter is entirely stepless from 1/500 to 30 seconds. It's not TTL metering but ATL (above the lens) - the silicon cell is located on right above the lens on the lens mount, but it does a great job. Because the silicon cell is right above the lens, you can use filters (including polarizing, etc.) without having to make filter corrections like on its older brother, the GSN. The Copal shutter goes up to 30seconds automatically. It's too bad they removed the 'B' bulb setting from the GSN though.
The rangefinder 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 G series, 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. As far as I know, the GX is one of the most compact rangefinders with parallax correction (perhaps the Minolta CLE is smaller?). Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.
The camera uses discontinued 1.35v PX640 mercury batteries. You can still find PX640s but they are pretty expensive and usually expired. There are alkaline PX640As, but they are $10 each at B&H. Instead, I'm using two LR44 1.55v alkaline batteries ($2-3 each) with a generous amount of tinfoil padding. It seems to work fine and it's what other people are doing with their Hi-matics. Check my battery page for other solutions for PX-640s.
|Camera Name||Electro 35 GX|
|Place of Manufacture||
|Date of Manufacture||1975.7 ~ 1980.8|
coupled rangefinder with built-in parallax compensation
40mm (AoV 56°), f/1.7, Color-Yashinon DX lens (6 elements in 4 groups)
distance = 0.8 meters (~2.6 feet)
52mm screw-in filters; 54mm slip on cap
Copal shutter 30 secs - 1/500
X-flash sync at all speeds
8 sec. self-timer on lens mount
cell mounted above lens
Lights on top of camera / rangefinder warn of under/over exposure conditions
EV 0 - 17 (at ISO 100)
f/1.7 - f/16
hot-shoe and PC cable connection.
|Film type / speeds||
Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ASA 25 to 800
x 1.35v PX640 mercury cells (w/battery check feature)
|Dimensions and weight||123 X 75.7 X 64mm; 580 grams|
|Retail price||¥35,000 in 1975|
|Copyright © 2005-7 Karen Nakamura / Photoethnography.com. Use of this chart, text, or any photographs in an eBay auction without permission will result in an immediate copyright violation claim with eBay VeRO. Violators may have their eBay account cancelled.|
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.