Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Yashica Electro 35 CC

Yashica produced quite an array of 35mm rangefinder cameras. In the early 1950s, they manufactured only twin-Lens reflex cameras, but expanded to 35 mm after they purchased the Nicca Camera Works in 1958. It wasn’t until about 1959 that Yashica produced 35mm rangefinders of their own design, starting with the Yashica YK.
Yashica YK, circa 1959

The early 35mm rangefinders were all fully manual, with the Lynx and Minister lines manufactured to about 1970. The Lynx and Minister cameras featured uncoupled meters and full manual operation, early models had selenium cells, and later models have CdS meter cells.

Yashica Lynx 14E IC - circa 1969

Yashica Minister III, circa 1966. Note the Selenium cells around the lens.
 With the Electro 35 series, starting in 1966, the cameras featured  CdS exposure metering, relatively fast 45 mm lenses, and electronic aperture-priority auto-exposure.  My early experience (between 2000 and 2012) with the Electro 35 series was not favorable.  All too often I encountered a camera that required a battery I could not find.  In some cases, a camera looked really great cosmetically, but was dead as a doornail mechanically.  In addition, I thought the cameras were bulky and finicky.  In the ensuing years, I learned about the PAD of death problem and the Yashica Guy that made battery adapters.  I think my biggest hangup with these cameras is that while they are aperture-priority, I have no indication of what the actual shutter speed is, and unlike a camera such as the Konica Auto S2, there is no manual mode available.  Yes, the Electro 35 series have a following, and many people liked them, but I was never a fan.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN, post-1975.

 There has been a lot written about the Yashica Electro 35 series which I am not going to duplicate here. Over the years, many of the cameras became unusable due to lack of a proper battery and the PAD of death affecting many of them. Mike Elek has an excellent post on the PAD of death.  As for battery replacement, visit the Yashica Guy and order a battery adapter that will make your Electro 35 camera usable.

As I previously stated, I was not a fan of the Electro 35 series.  However, in December, a very minty Electro 35 CC came my way that seemed to work. It doesn't need any battery adapter, allowing me to use a single 6v 4LR44 battery.  Now, the Electro 35 CC is a bit of a different beast compared to the Electro 35 GSN.  Stephen Gandy's Camera Quest site has an excellent review of the Electro 35 CC, and I have always been intrigued about this camera, but never saw one until now. 

It sure is a pretty camera!
What sets the Electro 35 CC apart from the rest of its line is the 35mm f/1.8 lens.  The Electro 35 series typically feature a 45mm f/1.7 lens, though the Electro 35 MC has a 40mm f/2.8 lens.  The 35 CC is also more compact the the rest.  I found an interesting error in McKeown's Cameras (page 1026) that lists the Electro 35 CC as having a 50mm f/1.7 lens.  The Electro 35 CC was sold from 1970-75, and is apparently one of the rarer models.  The original Electro 35 appeared in 1966, and the Electro 35 GSN was possibly the last model, as it appeared in 1975 and was sold into the early 1980s.

Electro 35 CC features:
  • Lens: 35mm, f/1.8, 6 elements in 4 groups.
  • Shutter: between-the-lens, electronically controlled two-leaved type.
  • Shutter Speeds: 8 sec - 1/250 sec.
  • Exposure Meter: CdS cell located above front lens element, allowing metering with filters attached.
  • Exposure Value Range: EV -1 - EV 16.
  • Film Speed Range: ISO 25-500.
  • Flash: PC socket, and only a cold shoe (why?).
  • Focusing:  rangefinder-type.
  • Viewfinder Information: Overexposure and slow speed indicator
  • Film Advance: Manual, lever operated, single-stroke.
  • Self-Timer: Mechanical, 10-sec. delay.
  • Filter Mount: 52 mm.
  • Battery:  6V PX28, or 4LR44 . Battery check illuminates frame counter if battery is good.  Lock button around shutter release to avoid accidental exposure.
  • Dimensions: 120 x 74 x 59 mm
  • Weight: 550 g.
  • Finish of body: black only, no chrome models.
My experience  with the Electro 35 CC was satisfactory, overall.  The rangefinder focusing was easy to see, and the relatively compact aspect of the camera made it a joy to use.  I think one has to use one of the Electro series for a while just to get used to the way they work with the over-under exposure arrows.  Since the maximum shutter speed on the Electro 35 CC is only 1/250 sec, I think using it with slower films is a good idea.  Of course, an ND filter could be used for high speed films.  It's certainly a camera deserving of some praise, in part because it does not require a battery adaptor, its compact size,  35mm focal length, and ease of use. I still wish the camera had a fully manual mode, but I will just have to accept it the way it is. It's about the size and weight of my Canon QL-17 GIII - in other words, compact and easy to carry around. It's also very quiet.

Here are some sample images taken over the past few months. Black and white images were shot in Columbia SC on expired Plus-X; color images were taken in Columbia SC and Ashevill NC on Fuji Superia 200.

I'll have to do more shooting with this cute, compact, and "ever-ready" camera.  I believe it has earned a place in my camera bag.  


Ztryfe said...

Nice review and nice results, I liked the results of the color pictures the most. I have a GX, which is pretty much the same as the CC but with a 40mm 1:1.7 lens. Both are super rare to find anyway, the GSN being the usual suspect for a Yashica RF.

The CC sounds like the GX, compact, silent, easy to use, no frills (but no manual option) rangefinder. And that Yashica glass is surely something.

Thanks for sharing!

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