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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 😎📸👍🏻