Yashica TL Electro
by Karen Nakamura
Overview and Personal Comments
The Yashica TL Electro is a single-lens reflex (SLR) with interchangeable lenses sold by Yashica from 1972. It is almost an identical clone to the Pentax Spotmatic II, and uses the Pentax/Praktica M42 screw mount, which means you can use a wide variety of Pentax lenses as well as other brands. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.
In fact the feature list makes this almost an identical clone of the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II: stop-down through the lens metering, full manual control of focus and shutter/aperture, flash hot shoe, etc. Even the layout is a practical clone of the Spotmatic. The only difference between this and a Spotmatic SPII that I can tell is that the TL Electro uses LEDs rather than the fragile analog needle of the Pentaxes. Having owned a Spotmatic SP for 15 years, I can tell you that that needle can and does break, so the LED is most probably more reliable over the long run.
With Spotmatics going for $200+, the TL Electro is an inexpensive way to get into the Pentax M42 system. This camera comes with the excellent quality Yashinon-DX 50mm f/1.7 standard lens and is perfect setup for a photography student who wants full control of her/his camera. This camera is built so solidly, I'd fully expect one to give another 15-30 years of dedicated service.
I purchased the TL Electro shown here as part of a larger lot of cameras from the estate of an elderly collector who had passed away. The body was in excellent shape,* clean, well preserved and in full working condition,. All of the shutter speeds including the often problematic 1 sec. shutter speed were absolutely spot on. The 1 second shutter speed sounded solid, with a smooth clockwork "whirrr." The leatherette was in great shape with no sign of peeling. This was not only an ideal collector's camera, it was also excellent for a student interested in photography who doesn't want to pay the now inflated prices for Spotmatics.
[The sticker inside reads: Fisher Photo 143 West Fourth Street, St. Paul Minnesota]
There are two models of the Yashica TL. One uses a single 6V PX28 battery and the other uses two 1.35v PX640 batteries. You have to determine which one your one is or you can risk burning out your camera if you use the wrong voltage. This page here gives more information: http://www-unix.oit.umass.edu/~coreya/yashica/tlelectro.html
- For the 2.7 volt cameras: The Yashica official page suggests using two PX640A alkaline batteries to get 2.7 volts.
- For the 6 volt cameras, which I had, I used a single PX28A battery. The metering LEDs light up perfectly and it meters accurately against my Gossen Digisix and Canon EOS-3.
The meter is a standard center-weighted manual match-needle meter. It's coupled to the aperture and shutter speed, so you just dial in the correct settings until both the Up and Down arrow heads are ligted.
The camera that I bought came with an Auto Yashinon-DX 50mm f/1.7 lens. The front element is so recessed that it's protected from bumps and scratches -- and also obviates the need for a hood. It uses the standard Pentax/Praktica M42 mount so you can use it on your other Pentax screw mount cameras as well. It's a very nice lens that focuses down to 0.5 meters (1.5') for close-up photography.
|Camera Name||TL Electro|
|Place of Manufacture||
|Date of Manufacture||1972|
Single lens reflex
Standard (Pentax) M42 screw mount
focal plane curtain.
cell mounted through the lens
External hot-shoe accessory option only
PC cable connection for X sync flash
|Film type / speeds||
Type 135 film (35mm standard)
ASA 12 to 1600
|Battery type||PX640 x 2 batteries (2.7 volts); PX640A x 2 (alkaline) should be fine|
|Dimensions and weight|
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My Pentax Screw
Mount Lens Collection
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.