The Yashica 35CC Review

Good day you awesome war torn camera geeks!

Over the past few months, and indeed over the years some of you have reached out to me here, on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube asking me basically something that sounds like this:

“Sam I really want a Contax T2, or a Konica Hexar, or a Nikon 35ti, or a Ricoh GR1 but the prices on those cameras are insanely high. Can you recommend a low cost alternative that delivers the goods?”

Now if you’re one of those people who asked, or if you echo those same sentiments then I would ask you…why do you want those cameras?

For some, it’s most likely because those premium cameras are among the most wanted on the YouTube playlist. In fact, the YouTube reviews by young millennials might be the driving force to why these cameras have skyrocketed in price. Kendall Jenner was just a catalyst with the T2 but the YouTube reviews thereafter took the prices into the atmosphere!

Now for you guys who are really into photography, you may have wanted one of those premium cameras for street photography. By and large, the premiums like the T2, Hexar, 35ti and of course the Ricoh GR1 have a deservedly good reputation as street cameras.

But the insanity of the high prices on those cameras keeps the thinking man from jumping in. Can you really get comparable quality from cheaper cameras?

Today I have an alternative for you that I believe is an excellent choice, and at perhaps at 1/10th the price of most premiums.

And that camera is the Yashica 35CC. It is a camera I believe to be Yashica’s hidden gem.

INTRODUCTION

The Yashica 35CC/CCN is a compact, 35mm rangefinder with a 35mm f/1.8 Color-Yashinon fixed lens.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 8 seconds to 1/250 and a flash synch of 1/30th of a second. The camera runs on one 6 volt 544 or equivalent battery.

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those who are interested in this camera, this video review may have the answers to your questions. It’s a pretty deep dive into this camera!

IMPRESSIONS OF THE ELECTRO 35CC AND IN USE

While I’ve used several Yashica Electro models over the years, the 35CC was a late addition to my collection and I got it around 2018-2019.

My first impression is that the camera is much smaller than more well known models like the Yashica Electro GS/GSN.

According to the Camera-Wiki, the Yashica Electro 35CC is “wrongly” thought by some to be part of the Yashica Electro family. However as I show on my YouTube video, you can’t blame people for “wrongly” thinking that when it actually says “Electro 35CC” on the top of the camera! 😀

But the thing that stands out right away and the thing that is indeed the star feature of the Electro 35CC/CCN. It is that bright 35mm f/1.8 lens!

Traditionally, rangefinders from this era have fixed lenses in the 40-45mm range. Think the Olympus SP, the Canonets, or even the aforementioned Yashica Electro GSN.

And even premium compacts like the Contax T2 has a 38mm f/2.8 lens. So the lens on the Electro 35CC at f/1.8 is a stop faster than the 2.8 on the Contax T2, Nikon 35ti, Leica Minilux, and marginally faster than the Konica Hexar’s 35mm f/2.

What does that extra speed buy you? The ability to shoot in lower light conditions and hopefully getting a good shot. And even though the 35mm focal length has never been known as a bokeh monster, the extra fast f/1.8 might help coax out that extra bit of bokeh.

What doesn’t it have that the premium compacts mentioned above does? It doesn’t have autofocus for one thing. It doesn’t have a Carl Zeiss lens or a Ricoh GR lens but without those brand labels, the prices can be kept low. That’s a positive thing!

IN USE

The Yashica Electro 35CC is small and compact and feels good in the hand. It’s a little on the thick side so it’s not exactly pocketable for the usual pant pockets.

The rangefinder patch on my copy is nice and contrasty making it easy to focus. There are dual focus tabs on the lens which is a nice touch.

The controls are sparse. The camera is basically aperture priority. You select the aperture via the markings on the lens and the camera selects the shutter speed. The shutter speed range is a whopping 8 seconds to 1/250th for the top speed.

The camera gives no indication of what speed it chooses. The only indication is a + or – for over or underexposure.

On my particular camera that indicator no longer works. I can’t see anything indicating over or underexposure. The battery check on my camera is also not working. However, that did not stop the camera from producing mostly well exposed images.

If you run out of batteries there is a default mechanical speed. Some sites say it’s 1/250th but others say it’s 1/30th. In my opinion, based on usage, it seems the default shutter speed without a battery is 1/30th.

SAMPLE PICS

All images below were taken with the Yashica Electro 35CC and Kentmere 400 film developed in Xtol.

Based on my own tests, I believe the 35mm f/1.8 Color-Yashinon DX lens to be excellent.

In the above images, I can see that the lens is really only held back by the film (Kentmere 400) and/or my developer Xtol.

At f/1.8 there is a touch of softness (as are most lenses wide open) but it’s actually sharper at f/1.8 than I expected so I’m perfectly fine with its performance.

From f/4 to f/11 you can expect excellent sharpness and good contrast, assuming the camera chooses a fast enough shutter speed.

PRICES, AVAILABILITY & WHERE TO BUY

The prices for the Yashica Electro 35CC are trending from $80-130 USD.

I’ve read that this camera is hard to find but I don’t think it’s that hard to find. I got mine from KEH in 2018 or 2019 for around $100.

In fact, while working on this article I saw one last week, again at KEH for $133 in EX condition.

It is true that you don’t see them too often from USA dealers. However they are plentiful on eBay, from sellers in Japan.

As mentioned before, I have bought many times from Japan without issues. However, you must do your research on the seller, as always, no matter what country it comes from.

BOTTOM LINE

The Yashica Electro 35CC is a hidden gem! It may not be as well known or as desirable as say a Contax T2 or Nikon 35ti, but especially for street photography I find the images it produces just as satisfying.

And the fact that you can find these cameras for about $100 USD on average, well, that adds incredible value and enjoyment to using this camera!

The Yashica Electro 35CC/CCN may never go down on its own as a true Camera Legend (but it might!), but there is no doubt that the Yashica Electro series as a whole are Camera Legends that have made memories for people for decades.

In my opinion, the Yashica Electro 35CC is one of the best that you can get from this series, even if Camera-Wiki doesn’t consider it part of the Electro family 😀

If you see one at the prices I mentioned, buy it! And tell ‘em Sam sent you 😎📸👍🏻

Photo Of The Day: “Twenty Years Later”

Good morning you awesome and beautiful war torn camera geeks! Well even though I started on an upbeat note, today’s topic is anything but upbeat.

The Freedom Tower, 2019. Yashica Electro 35CC, Kentmere 400 developed in Xtol.

As we approach the twentieth anniversary of the September 11th 2001 terror attacks that changed America forever it is bittersweet to see how the world today, specifically Afghanistan, is seemingly back to its pre 9/11 state.

As a New Yorker, I remember the events of that day very well. I remember the sadness afterwards. I remember the unity of the country. And I remember the pledge to “Never Forget.” Sadly, it seems like a lot of people have forgotten and/or have already moved on.

Just like many of you, the events of last month, August 2021, caught me a little off guard. Looking at it now it’s clear that while certain events may have taken the US government off guard, the bigger picture is no surprise to them.

That “bigger picture” is having the Taliban back in power in Afghanistan.

Now I do not wish to make this a political column. If there is any blame, I would say all administrations, all the US presidents of the past twenty years are to blame.

You could blame George W. Bush for bringing us into Afghanistan by taking Osama Bin Laden’s bait. But then again, after your country has been attacked in such a dramatic fashion what else could he have done?

You could blame Barack Obama for doing pretty much nothing that I can remember with Afghanistan during his tenure. Oh wait, during his tenure he did get Osama Bin Laden so I gotta give him some credit for that.

You could blame Donald Trump for making a deal with the Taliban (supposedly we don’t deal with terrorists) in the first place and you could blame Joe Biden for not taking presidential leadership to change some of Trump’s plans when he got the data that the Taliban were making substantial gains.

You could also say that Afghanistan is, sadly, a war torn country in every sense of the word. A country with beautiful and tough people but with a very complex mix of religious and cultural influences that could never be overcome by the influences of another country. Russia tried for ten years. They failed. Now the USA has left after twenty years with really nothing to show for it.

What irks me is the notion given by the media, who ultimately got their information from the government that everything was going great in Afghanistan and thus the world felt safer for a while.

Today the same people who sheltered Al Quaeda in 2001, the Taliban, are back in power.

Apparently in their agreement with the US government, the Taliban pledged not to harbor terrorists. The problem is they have shown time and again that their word means almost nothing. Whether or not they keep their word remains to be seen.

On one hand maybe we should have stayed and reshaped the country for the better. On the other hand, Afghanistan is not our country to reshape. And for the US government, there is no oil, no treasures to be had. If there were I’d bet the plans would be different.

Anyway this is not the forum for politics so I’ll leave it at that but as you can see Afghanistan is complicated! It’s not an easy topic.

Oh by the way, the above photo was taken with a Yashica Electro 35CC and Kentmere 400 film.

What is your opinion? I’d love to hear it! Keep it civil though. As I said this is not the place for politics.

My Latest YouTube Shorts!

YouTube now has a feature called “Shorts” and it’s perfect for me because while I enjoy sharing with my fellow camera lovers, I don’t necessarily enjoy making long videos that nobody watches 🙂

I’ve done a few of them already and they are lots of fun! And perhaps they may lead to full length videos in the future, who knows. Anyway, today’s shorts features is a sort of “old Canon meets new Canon.” It’s the EOS RP with the vintage Canon 50mm f/0.95 Dream Lens. Check it out!

Iconic American Cameras Part I: The Argus C3

IMG_7630C

I was looking to do something in honor of the 4th of July Independence Day holiday on Tuesday. I think classic American cameras don’t get enough spotlight.

I thought to myself, what is the most iconic American camera? What camera would qualify as an American Camera Legend? There have been quite a few of them, but for some reason none came to my head right away. When you think of iconic German cameras, right away you probably think of Leica, Rollei, or the early Contax cameras. Japan, you easily think of Canon, Nikon, Pentax, etc, etc.

American? First thing that came to my mind was Kodak, but Kodak was iconic mostly as an American film manufacturer. Sure they had a bunch of cameras too, but a lot of them were rebranded imports or cameras that were part American, part foreign (usually the lenses). It was films like Kodak Kodachrome or Ektachrome that made Kodak an American icon.

I thought of Polaroid too and certainly some of their cameras such as the Land Cameras or the One Step series would qualify. But again, a lot of the best Land Cameras had Japanese lenses on them.

The only one I could clearly say is an American Camera Legend is the Argus C3. Well, let’s say it might be the most iconic American camera in my collection. So if you can think of a more iconic American camera, feel free to let me know. I’m just saying this is the most iconic made in the USA camera in my collection.

AS A CAMERA

The Argus C3 is a 35mm rangefinder camera made by Argus of Ann Arbor, Michigan from around 1939 to 1966.

The camera features a 50mm f/3.5 Cintar lens which was made by other companies among them the most well known was Bausch & Lomb, another famous American optical manufacturer.

The lens can be removed and there are a few other lenses which can be used on the C3, though in my personal experience, I’ve never seen a C3 in the flesh with any lens other than the 50mm Cintar. The Cintar is actually the fastest at f/3.5 while the other lenses (35mm/100mm/135mm respectively) have a very slow and boring f/4.5 as their fastest aperture.

The camera has a shutter speed range of 1/10 to 1/300 plus B and the lens as an aperture range from f/3.5 to f/16. The rangefinder focuses from around 3 feet to infinity and is coupled.

There were a few revisions to the C3, but I think they are all pretty much the same cameras or at least nothing really earth shattering in the revisions. The original “C” model has an uncoupled rangefinder.

IMPRESSIONS

The first thing that strikes you about the Argus C3 is the awesome retro look. But this isn’t a Fuji or Olympus digital camera dressed up as retro. This thing is from 1939 to 1966…it IS retro! 🙂

Its nickname is “The Brick” and it does look and feel like a funky, chunky brick! In pictures, it looks smaller to me than it actually is in real life. I remember being quite surprised by the size of this camera when I first got it.

I remember seeing the camera numerous times on television, as a prop in print ads, and in movies, most notably in one of the Harry Potter movies.

It makes a great prop I must say!

IMAGE QUALITY

I know without pictures “it didn’t happen” but I’m not going to lie, I don’t have any photos from this camera that I’d consider remarkable.

The lens, at least on my sample, was of average quality and many of my shots were in poor focus or blank. The ones that were sharp seemed decent but nothing I’d call spectacular. Don’t forget, this was a camera designed and priced to sell to the masses, it was not and is not a Leica. I can and do blame myself for not producing decent pictures with the camera, but I don’t think the Argus C3 would mind if I blamed it too 🙂

Sure, don’t get me wrong, you can get some nice pictures with it, but then again you can get nice pictures with almost any camera. If you want a camera to take those shaky, out of focus, softish hipster images, this might be the camera for you.

I’m not sure if the rangefinder was off or the shutter or something else I was doing wrong. It might just be my particular camera and lens. Nevertheless, it’s not a camera I’m really interested in putting another roll of film through as I have a lot of other film cameras to review!

PRICE & COLLECTIBILITY

The Argus C3 is a good example of “collectible” not translating to “expensive.” Argus made millions of these mass produced cameras and while beautiful (to me), it is not an out of this world picture taker. People know that and it shows in today’s used prices which can go as low as $10, though the average prices for these cameras seem to be trending at between $15 to $30.

The C3 is also a good example of a camera looking like it’s worth more than it is. I’ll bet on any given day, someone comes across one of these in their attics and knowing today’s appetite for anything retro, they probably think it’s worth a lot. Then they check prices on eBay only to be disappointed by the low prices these cameras command.

AS AN ICON

As I said at the start, the Argus C3 is an American Camera Legend. The camera sold in the millions and helped to popularize 35mm photography in America.

By doing so, they probably helped Kodak sell a boatload of film in the USA as well. So even though the C3 wasn’t and isn’t (in my opinion) a great shooters camera, it is indeed a legendary camera. A Camera Legend.

So if you’re a camera collector, and a patriotic American, you don’t just want one, you need to have one in your collection!

The looks alone will bring a smile to your face and amazement to your non camera knowlegeable but retro loving friends. Just think twice before you waste any film on it. My two cents! 🙂

WHERE TO BUY?

Buy from our affiliates and help to support Camera Legend. Appreciate your support and your visits!

***DEAL ALERT***

 Nikon Lens Rebates are on!! This is the time to SAVE BIG on Nikon!

Photo Of The Day: “Classic Junker”

RD1CarPic

I shot this a couple of weeks ago. I was driving to see some friends when I spotted this “classic” junker underneath some spring blossoms. The contrast of the old car and the color of the buds struck my eyes. Right away, I said HO! I have to get some shots! 🙂

I actually had to turn the car around to come back and take the shot. I’m not so good on cars, but it looked to me like a Ford? If any of you out there can identify it, please do so! I did not come out of my car to take this shot. I respect people and did not want anyone freaking out! I know I probably would be disturbed if I saw someone coming up and taking shots of my car. But this is a vintage old car and it stands out in today’s world, so if I were the owner, I would probably have to expect it.

I shot this with my trusty and old Epson R-D1 and 40mm f/2 Summicron-M. I got this camera in 2006 and if you had told me then that ten years later I’d still be shooting with it, I’d probably say you were crazy! For one, I didn’t think I’d hold on to it for this long. Secondly, I didn’t think it would last this long. But I still have it, and it’s been surprisingly reliable.

I guess I’m still one of those crazy guys (and there’s lots of us out there) who still carries a camera with them everywhere, even when a good cell phone camera will do. I don’t know, I guess I’m still old school.

The Epson R-D1 is the world’s first digital rangefinder camera. It was introduced in 2004. Somehow, Epson beat Leica (well known as THE rangefinder icon) to the punch with this digital body which was made by Cosina and based on their own line of Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder film cameras.

The R-D1 sports a 6.1mp sensor. It is, or is a variation of the very popular Sony sensor found in the Nikon D70/D70s, Pentax *ist D series, Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D/5D series and more. It may be digital, but no it’s not like an outdated computer where it’s unusable. It is a very dated sensor, but it was one of the best of its era and it still produces beautiful pictures.

If you look to at the brick wall to the right of the car, you can see very nice and subtle shadow detail transitions. Very smooth, not harsh. This might have more to do with the 40mm Summicron as well, but I have to give the sensor credit too.

So if you don’t have an R-D1, don’t worry. Just get one of the above mentioned cameras cheap and you’ll have pretty much the same sensor. The thing you won’t have is the ability to use Leica M lenses and the wonderful tactile feel of the R-D1, plus its glorious optical viewfinder.

I’ve spoken, written, referenced this camera many many times, though I’ve never done a full or even partial review of it. As I’ve told many people, this camera truly feels and looks like its film camera equivalent (the Bessa R/R2/R3). It’s kind of funny because compared to a Leica, the Bessa film cameras do feel kind of cheap.

Yet, in digital form, it feels better and more substantial than most digital cameras out there! It’s just normal with digital/analog camera comparisons, and I’ve come to accept it. As an example, take the Olympus OM-1 film camera and then hold a OM-D camera next to it. As much as I love the OM-D’s image quality and shooting capabilities, there’s just no comparison. The OM-1 feels solid and hefty, the OM-D feels light and dinky. And the OM-1 was actually one of the lighter film SLR cameras.

The 40mm f/2 Summicron has always been one of my favorite performers. It provides beautiful sharpness and tonal range. The lens is beautifully small, much like a pancake lens. Normally I find the 40mm focal length, especially the pancakes a little boring, but that’s because most pancakes start at f/2.8. The 40mm Summicron gives me an extra stop of light which opens up more possibilities, not only for the low light shots I take, but for the shallow depth of field I need for portraits. On the R-D1 it’s equal to around 60mm which makes it a little longer than a 50mm standard lens.

It was introduced with the Leica CL, which was a collaboration with Minolta in the 1970s. The Summicron is made by Leitz although a Rokkor-M version, made by Minolta in Japan, is also available. Due to this collaboration, there has always been some debate among camera nerds as to whether the lens is really a Minolta or a Leica? All I can say is that it’s a great lens and that’s all I need to know.

As you can see, I’m actually shooting more than I’m writing, which I guess is a good thing in some ways. If this was ten years ago when I was a single man with no family or responsibilities, I’d probably be doing this blog like crazy. These days, I do it when it strikes my fancy, though I really should be doing it more. Ah, sorry for the rambling. Have a good day friends and happy shooting always! 🙂

***IN STOCK ALERT***

I have been notified by my good friends at Adorama that the Nikon D5 and D500 are now in stock!! If you’ve been waiting patiently for these awesome cameras, here’s your chance to grab one before they sell out the first batch. You may find them in the links below. Thanks for supporting Camera Legend and enjoy your new camera, I’d sure love to hear about it!

Nikon D5 (CF Version)

Nikon D5 (XQD Version)

Nikon D500

Nikon D500 with 16-80 f/2.8-4E VR lens