The frustrating story of my Yashica Electro 35

About a year ago I posted a story about a Yashica Minister 700 I found at a flea market for 10 euros. Not too long after that I found another Yashica, this time the famous Electro 35 for the same price at a local thrift shop. I had my eye on an Electro 35 for a while. It is something of a legend in the analog photography circles. It was built in Japan in the 1970s and has a fixed 1:1.7 45mm lens. The rangefinder and automatic shutter speed make it a great camera for shooting in the streets and the lens yields really good contrast and sharpness.

Anyway… I was pretty happy to get it. Unfortunately it was not operational. The Electro 35 has a little rubber pad inside against which the shutter release rods hit so that the whole metering etc. mechanism could reset. These pads are known to disintegrate over time giving the issue the name “The Pad of Death” and my camera had not escaped its touch.

The replacement of the pad was no easy task. It meant taking most of the camera apart. Mind you, I had never repaired a camera before. I had to get behind the lens mount plate so I needed to take off the faux leather covering in a way that it could be glued back into place. The camera was also very complex electronically considering it was made in the 70s. There were wires and little gears and springs everywhere. It looked like an amazing feat of engineering but I had to go through it all without damaging anything.

It took me a few months on and off again and several tries in putting the damn thing together. The pad replacement was the easy part. Making the whole thing work again was the real challange. Finally, after learning from every mistake I made, looking at countless manuals and photos online and painful fingers, I got the thing back together. You can imagine my frustration when after I had replaced the pad, the meter still did not function properly. I searched for answers online but only met another person with a similar issue. I believe there is something completely wrong with the light meter and I can not fix it.

The Electro 35 still works with a 1/500 shutter speed without a battery so I decided to test it out anyway. It was a bit limiting not being able to have any flexibility in the shutter speed but you can get around it by doing the metering yourself and setting the correct f-stop. The images I got show that the lens is amazing and the camera works well at 1/500. There was however an issue with light leaks. They were very random with some frames having large ones and some having none at all.  It is probably the foam around the film door that has disintegrated over time. An easy fix but since the meter doesn’t work on this (mostly) automatic camera, there is little reason to fix this.

I have a friend in Estonia with an Electro 35 that is also broken. He is not sure what is wrong with it but it sounds like it has different problems than mine. He said I can have it so the quest to get the perfect Electro 35 continues. I really do love the pictures that come out of this camera and would love to have it meter nicely so it’s a quest I am willing to continue.

I have added a few shots to the gallery below from the one film I shot. They are the 10 best I got off the film although the scan quality in the local photo store is really bad.  You can see the light leaks on some of them. The ones that had the worst ones, I left out.