Yashica Electro 35 GS takes a walk around Chicago

My 1970’s Yashica Electro 35 GS rangefinder walked around with me earlier this spring in Chicago, and proved itself a capable old photo-taking tool.

I was in Chicago with my family over my son’s spring break, and was lucky enough to have the timing of the trip coincide with the Vivian Maier photo exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center. Actually, it wasn’t all luck. I had learned about the exhibit, and that was what first prompted me to suggest that we travel to Chicago over spring break. Chicago is always a great place to visit, but that photo exhibit made it even better.

Yashica Electro 35 GS

The indoor photos above are from the atrium of the Chicago Cultural Center, which was originally the public library, built in the 1890’s.

The photos were shot on Fujicolor 200, with the Yashica Electro 35 GS.  The wide maximum aperture of f/1.7 proved itself very valuable shooting in the existing light of the atrium, lighted by it’s Tiffany glass dome and some non-so-bright old lamps.  And the built-in light meter with automatic exposure proved itself quite capable in widely varying lighting situations.

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Yashica Electro 35 GS first shots

I’ve been wanting to post some new photos, but haven’t had any film developed in a while, so I’m reaching back to some images from late last winter.

These are some shots from the first roll of film I shot on my Yashica Electro 35 GS rangfinder camera. As is becoming a tradition for me, the very first image I shot with this camera was of Riley, our English Cocker Spaniel. She’s always a willing subject:

This last image needs a little explaining. About half the roll of film was fogged, with no apparent trace of images. I’m guessing that someone opened the back cover when I was part-way through the roll (which makes me appreciate the hidden button on the Retina IIIc). About half of the roll was destroyed, but some faint images remained on several of those fogged frames. I cannot see any trace of image when I look at the negs, but surprisingly the scans picked up some faint images, and with some boosting of contrast in Lightroom I was able to pull out the image above. I converted it to black & white to eliminate a purple cast (and since there weren’t really any other visible colors in the image), and pumped up the contrast to pull out the image, which also made the film grain super-exaggerated. The foggy image, along with the subject matter, reminds me of something from the very early days of photography.

These were shot on Kodak Gold 400 color negative film, with processing and ‘budget scans’ done by North Coast Photo.

Yashica Electro 35 GS

Some of the images above were shot in low light taking advantage of the camera’s f/1.7 maximum aperture. This results in a pretty shallow depth of field, especially evident on the first photo of Riley (shot in ambient daylight coming through a couple of windows that wasn’t very bright), where her eyes and ears are in focus, but her nose is not. The image quality is great, even with the lens wide open.  I’m sure it gets sharper when stopped down a couple stops, as most all lenses do, but it’s nice to know that the image quality is good even wide open.

This Yashica Electro 35 was handed down to me by my wife’s parents, who likely bought it new back in the 1970’s, and seem to have taken very good care of it. It must have always been carried in it’s case, as it is really in pristine condition. It’s an easy camera to use, with full-time aperture-priority automatic mode. Since I like shooting in aperture-priority mode (this is the mode that my DSLR is usually in), the lack of manual control doesn’t bother me too much. It seems to do a pretty good job with the metering. And I suppose if I really want to override the meter, I could change the ISO setting to force it to under- or over-expose from the metered reading. More info about the Electro 35 GS.