When I first asked Hamish if I could submit an article, I had just purchased a box of used cameras on Facebook Marketplace. I knew that I wanted to review some of the cameras I had purchased by running a roll of film through as many of them as I could. My first victim was to be the Argus B. I was super excited and shot my roll through it. Recently I received the film back and nothing came out. The camera is an 80 year old forgotten camera so it will stay on display but not much else.
Now as you can tell from me purchasing a box of camera relics, I was in a pretty big case of gear acquisition syndrome of which I am slowly getting out of. It’s funny what one ruined roll of film can do to GAS. So while I had a box of cameras, I still went and purchased a Yashica Electro 35 GT, again from FB Marketplace. It didn’t cost me too much, it was black with some wear and tear on the corners, and I was looking forward to doing a little DIY by replacing the leatherette. It even came with a working battery and the guy threw in a Patterson tank. I was so excited. If only I had done some research before buying a dud, I would have been a bit better off.
While finally doing some research on my new best friend, I discovered that it was broken, so to speak. There was a very common issue with the Yashica Electro series that was called “the pad of death” (POD). Essentially it meant that there is a foam pad on the inside of the camera that degrades over time and the camera will not work properly. There is a distinct thump that should be heard when you advance the film. I was really sad but YouTube had a plethora of videos on how to fix it, so I was determined to DIY this too!
Now I have had a considerable shake in my hands for quite a few years now, probably since my late 20s and I’m in my late 30s. This issue is so bad that it made me unable to shoot with my Canon 7D handheld, even though my Canon 24-105mm L series had 3 stops of image stabilization. It’s why I opted to sell my kit and go to the Sony A7 II. So as you can imagine with my limitations, I was getting ahead of myself with all this DIY stuff.
Did I succeed at fixing the POD issue? In a manner of speaking. I eventually stuffed enough pieces of foam and glue that something eventually caught. As long as I press the shutter button down hard enough, I have no issues with the POD. Who knows the damage that I have done internally. I can tell you the ones that I know though. I accidentally ripped off the wire for the PC flash sync port when I removed the top plate. I chewed up some of the screws and used a protractor to remove the ASA dial and winding lever, so all those are scratched. The front of the viewing window was bent, came out, and was put back in with glue so it is now protruding from the body. For my first try, the front leatherette is not terrible but also not the prettiest.
All this gets us to our original point of running a roll of film through all these cameras. I present you the Yashica Electro 35 GT in all of its problematic, half-broken glory. This was my first rangefinder adventure and I definitely found it very interesting. The viewfinder is quite bright especially as I got a chance to clean it. I have three rangefinder cameras and the Yashica has the best overall focusing patch. It is more visible than the Minolta Hi Matic 9 and the rangefinder on my FED 5 is poorly calibrated (articles to come on each of these). This makes it the winner with the meager competition it faces in my collection.
Oh, and to add to my “fun” first adventure, the battery died 2/3rds of the way through the roll of HP5 and the issue with the shutter depression happened in the last few shots. Through all this, I really, really wanted to love this camera. How did my DIY Franken-camera do?
It did well enough, especially given that it was my first experience with a rangefinder. Will I ever run a second roll through this particular Electro 35? That is far less likely. There were several frames that turned out blank (when the shutter button would misfire) and some of the shots were very underwhelming. Of course a part of this is probably on me. The experience was enough to get me interested in rangefinders, but not enough to give my allegiance to this particular camera. Maybe one day I will pick up a copy that is in better shape.
My quest to find my perfect set of cameras is still ongoing. I sadly don’t think my Franken-camera is making the cut. I am now scanning rolls from my FED 5 and my OlympusPen EES-2 so expect some tales of those adventures. Hope you’re enjoying this.