Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Yashica Electro 35 GX

The Yashica GX is the last of the fast-lens Electro 35 series. It has a Color Yashinon DX 40mm 1:1.7 lens, a hot shoe and PC connection, a 8-second self timer and shutter lock. The camera is aperture-priority ONLY: set the aperture, and the camera decides the shutter speed (stepless from 1/500 to several seconds). Over and under exposure arrows light up to warn the user if shutter speed needs to be higher than 1/500 or lower than 1/30. There is NO manual mode, which is a limitation. The shutter is an electronic Copal leaf shutter, which means flash sync at any speed (great for fill flash). Film speeds of ISO 25 to 800 are supported.

The GX is routinely referred to as the zenith of all the previous Electro 35 rangefinder cameras. It is basically the same camera as the Yashica GL (great camera), but quite a bit smaller (even better). The silicon meter new to the GL and GX is more reliable than Cds cells, and MUCH more responsive. The 40mm lens is slightly wider and easier to use than the usual 45mm lenses; though not as wide as the 35mm Yashica CC, it does not have the shutter and diaphragm compromises. The GX represents the best compromise between big, fast lens and compact design.

The GX features a Flash Pulse Selector auto flash system, if it's used with the ES-20 Auto strobe. It is close to the TTL flash systems today (more like ATL). The flash has an extra contact on the shoe to communicate with the light meter on the GX. As the flash fires, it uses the meter to learn when to stop output. If the flash exhausted its power and the image is still underexposed, the GX will automatically close the shutter at 1/30 to prevent blurred photos. With ISO set to 100, lining up the ISO lever and the flash symbol on the barrel corresponds to an aperture of f4, where the flash effective range is 5m. Unfortunately, this feature is not present with other strobes. When using a third-party auto flash, there seems to be no way to fix shutter speed at 1/30 easily, a feature I like very much on the GSN. If anyone have tips on how to do that, please let me know.

I love this camera. It is small and light enough that I can carry it all day. I did that with the GSN too but my shoulder would be sore afterwards. The GX takes sharp pictures and shines in low light situations. Recently at a friend's wedding, I shot a roll of Natura 1600 film at 800 and the photos came out better than my Panasonic Fz7.

There are a few issues though. The GX only goes up to ISO 800, which is a bummer. The ISO setting lever is very inconvinent compared to the dial design, makeing exposure compensation difficult. The camera is quite a bit lighter than the GSN, and overall does not fell as solid.

You can search for GSNs on eBay with keywords Yashica GX, or a broader search Electro 35 will get you the entire family.


(Yashica GX x Fujicolor Reala)

(Yashica GX x Fujicolor Pro 400H)
(Yashica GX x Fujicolor Pro 160S)



Anonymous said...

Nice article!

About the whole flash deal -- this is all based on my own deduction, but here goes:

As far as I can tell, when you have a flash in the hot shoe, and IF the flash is turned on, the shutter speed will vary from 1/500 to 1/30 according to ambient light levels, BUT the shutter speed will not be less than 1/30. How do I know? Well, I use my GX a lot in outdoor fill-flash situations, at differing light levels, and set to a variety of apertures, and the exposures are correct every time. I can hear the shutter speeds vary in different lighting situations; obviously, I can't tell exactly what they are, but they do vary. But even if it's pitch dark, it never falls below (what sounds like) 1/30.

This is alluded to in your writeup. The little flash contact signals the Yashica ES-20 flash when to shut off, but the big (center) contact tells the camera when a flash is mounted and turned on -- be it ES-20 or any other flash. I don't have an ES-20, but if I mount my flash (usually a Vivitar 252) without turning it on, the GX seems to operate normally. Turn the flash on, and it's 1/500 to 1/30. Therefore there is no need to fix the shutter speed exactly at 1/30, as with the Electro 35 GSN.

It would help if the GX instruction manual was clearer on this subject, but I hope this is of some assistance.

Donnie Strickland

Gas Lounge said...

You are absolutely right! Last night, I tested your theory using my GX in a dark place. First, I made sure it chose a longer than 1/30s shutter speed without a flash connected, then I mounted my flash (Vivitar 5200) on the hotshoe. Sure enough, my GX chose a short shutter speed. I can't believe I didn't try this before. Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Most welcome.


Anonymous said...

...could you tell me what lens hood do you have on your GX on the picture? I mean what exactly brand is on the picture and where did you get it from (I can see it's wide angle hood)?

Thank you very much in advance!

Gas Lounge said...

The hood is a clone of Nikon hn-3, for a 35mm lens. I got it on ebay for a few bucks. The hood blocks quite a bit of the viewfinder. It doesn't bother me much for my style of shooting.