How to test a Yashica Electro Camera

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by sebastianmoran, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. How can a lay person, not a camera expert, know whether a Yashica Electro is working or not. These can be quality cameras, but condition varies. My intent here is document how to test a Yashica Electro. I hope this will help buyers know what to look for. And help sellers to be able to represent more accurately their cameras.
    Why is this a problem? After buying three Electros, each for very small dollars, I can see some quirks that make it difficult for the buyer and/or the seller to know whether the camera is "working." For example, even with dead internal wiring and electronics, the shutter will still fire. In one case, I have a camera which gives a satisfying "click" but the shutter blades do not move! In another, the auto-exposure works for all stops except f/16 where it gives super long exposures in any lighting.
    Here's what I've found so far about how to test a Yashica Electro. Please comment or add additional tests that any lay person can do.
    1. Pull up the rewind knob to open the back of the camera. Point at something bright, look through the back, push the shutter release. Do you hear a click? Do you see a flash of light through the lens? In this camera, shutter fires at 1/500th with no battery. OK, your shutter moves.
    2. Look into the back of the camera at the back of the lens. Move the aperture ring from one limit to the other. Notice the aperture blades moving. Blades disappear at f/1.7, blades make a perfect pentagon about 3mm wide at f/16. OK, aperture works.
    3. Fire shutter and wind film advance several times. Smooth? Are things moving properly on the right hand side inside the back? OK, close back of camera. Repeat a few more times. As you move the film advance letter do you hear a sound? At the start of the advance stroke, do you hear a "clunk" or "thump"? Or is it pretty quiet, just gears turning inside, like most cameras? The "clunk" sound is GOOD! If no clunk, then you have a "Pad of Death" a.k.a. "POD" problem. Google for more info. This is a moderately difficult repair.
    4. Set aperture to 1.7, front ring on lens to B, look through the lens in bright light, direct sunlight is best, press and hold the shutter release. Lens clean and clear? Slight yellow cast is OK, that's the coatings. No spidery stuff or frosted look. OK, you have a clean lens. A few bits of dust are OK and won't hurt anything.
    5. Look through viewfinder. Is it bright and clear? Or like looking through a dirty window? Move the focusing ring. Can you see the split image? Does split image move with focusing ring? Look at a vertical line in your scene. Can you align the split image? Look at a corner, are the split images aligned vertically? Focus on a vertical line about five feet away. Read the distance mark on the focusing ring, should be 5 feet. Try on a distant object, at least 100' away. Read the distance mark, should be infinity. OK, you have a good viewfinder.
    6. Can you move the ASA dial (top of camera, numbers from 12-400 or 25-1000. Move the red index mark to 200.
    7. Use a US Nickel to open the battery compartment cover. Opens with reasonable force? Clean inside? Inside of cover looks clean? OK. Otherwise, probably battery leakage and corrosion in the battery chamber. If you want to go further, get a battery. Order a PX32 alkaline battery from any internet seller, about $10. Install the battery.
    8. Press the "Battery Check" button (on back of camera). Does the light come on? On many models the light is green and is inside the frame counter window.
    9. Set the front ring on lens to B. Look through the back again. Fire the shutter several times, holding down the release button. Shutter should stay open for as long as you hold down the shutter release button.
    10. Set the front ring on lens to "Auto." Inside, indoor lighting, set the aperture to 16 and press the shutter release. Does the yellow "Slow" light on top of camera come on? Can you see the bright yellow arrow in the viewfinder, top right? Good.
    11. Continuing inside in dim lighting, turn the aperture ring back and forth, find the place where the yellow light just comes on. If yellow light is on at all apertures, find a little brighter lighting, so the yellow light comes on at 4 or at 2.8. Note the aperture where the yellow light just comes on. That will be 1/30th sec exposure. Now rotate the aperture ring five clicks to the right, higher f-numbers; each click will double the exposure. So, five clicks should be 1 second. Fire the shutter while looking through the back. See if shutter stays open for about 1 second. Try the intermediate positions, each click should double the exposure. Go further towards higher f-numbers if you can. Each click doubles exposure. (I have one camera that's perfect up to f/11, but at f/16, the shutter stays open for many seconds, way too long.)
    12. Pick an f-stop and lighting that give an exposure of a few seconds, say f/8 indoors at night. Look through the back of camera, through the back of lens. You should be able to see the lens stay open several seconds. Does the lens stay open for several seconds whether you hold the release down or not? On long exposures, shutter should stay open for the proper time whether release button is held down or not. (I have one camera where shutter only stays open if release button is held down.)
    13. Now go outside in bright sunlight, turn the aperture to 1.7, does the red "Over" light on top of camera come on? See it in viewfinder? Good.
    14. If camera passes all these tests, then shoot a roll of color print film, use different apertures in different lighting, focus close and distant, try some in very dim light indoors or at night. Develop and print the film. You'll probably see light leaks (bright streaks on prints). This is a small problem, easily fixed by replacing the foam light seals; this is expected on any vintage Electro. More significantly, is the focus right? Are the negatives properly exposed? Ask the lab to look at your negatives if in doubt.
    If you pass all these tests, then you have a good, clean camera. Google for info on cleaning the viewfinder, replacing light seals, and other refurb/repairs.
    Photo.net contributors, please add your comments and any additional tests a lay person can perform to evaluate a Yashica Electro camera.
     
  2. Looks like a good guide. I actually have a Electro 35 GSN for sale on eBay now.
    I think a lot of sellers don't want to hassle in trying to figure it out, nor buy a battery. However, there is value to be added (money to be made) in figuring out if it works. Of course, some seller might like the blind ignorance. There is a large discount premium to "untested, as-is" cameras. Buyers don't want to risk buying a broken camera.
     
  3. I actually sell lots of these cameras, and I've learned their ins and outs.
    The first thing I look at is the camera's cosmetic condition. A camera which is clean, with no dents and a nice finish is more likely to work than one which looks beat up. After a look at the outside, I wind the winder, and trip the shutter button to make sure the shutter fires. If there is no click, it's probably got some serious internal problems.
    If the shutter clicks, I move on to the battery compartment. Regardless of whether it is green with crud, or shiny looking, I clean the contacts and drop in a battery. I push the battery check button to see if the check light works. A dead check light doesn't necessarily mean the contacts are bad, or that the meter doesn't work, sometimes the lights simply burn out. I then move the aperture ring back and forth while holding down the shutter button partway to see if the meter is operational. I trip the shutter to see if the speeds change according to the aperture selection. If the shutter changes speed, the meter is probably working, but the only way to check if the meter is accurate is to run a roll of film through the camera.
    If things are okay up to this point, I then check the lens. If the lens is dirty or dusty on the inside, I remove the front elements and clean them from behind. While the front elements are out, I work my way to the shutter assembly and lubricate the linkage. Dirty linkage can and will affect shutter speed accuracy, usually resulting in overexposed pictures. While lubricating the linkage, I can access the inside of the rear element, and clean it out. On some Electros, thorium glass is used in the internal elements, so yellowing of the glass can occur. Long-term exposure to sunlight will remove the yellowness. If there is fungus on any of the lens elements, I will discard them and replace them with clean glass from a parts camera.
    The viewfinder/rangefinder on these old cameras often needs cleaning. The job is straightforward and simple, and can make a huge difference in viewfinder brightness. Just be careful around the mirror.
    These cameras are not that complex, and if you want to get your feet wet learning how to service cameras, Yashicas are a good place to start. I have a lot of fun with these cameras, they are quite cheap and common, but they also take excellent pictures.
     
  4. Thanks, Christopher and Jeff.
     
  5. Question does anyone know if there is a forum on adjusting the arrow mask that appears above the viewfinder? Or can anyone tell me how to do this? My GSN for some reason the OVER arrow is about center top of the viewfinder and the UNDER arrow is off to the right of the viewfinder? You have to adjust your eye angle to see it but it's there. They both seem to light up when they should. I've already removed the top and have downloaded the service manual for the Yashica Electro 35 GSN. But need to be pointed in the right direction. For those who may have the manual is it on page 32? Thank you for your time in this matter.
     
  6. For repair of all Yashica cameras Mark Hama has a superb reputation. For the Yashica Electro, check http://camerarefurb.com/ Russ Sisco.
    To ask a question and perhaps get an answer from Russ, try asking in the Yashica section of http://rangefinderforum.com
    On my Yashica Electro GTN, I have to change eye position to see the arrow.
     
  7. Thanks Richard for responding to my question. So your saying that's how its suppose to be the OVER arrow (Red) is located about center top of your viewfinder and you have to change your eye position to see the UNDER arrow (Yellow) right side top? Huh, I thought something was wrong with the GSN maybe that's how it's suppose to be?
     
  8. BC, I don't remember that precisely. Will be able to take a look and reply in a couple of days.
     
  9. BC, here is an actual image of my GTN viewfinder with the Yellow arrow lighted. The Red arrow is also visible probably due to reflections. You can see the position of both arrows. It sounds like your arrows are in a different position.
    00XCgi-275969584.jpg
     
  10. Finally, here are a couple of images from the manual showing where the arrows are supposed to be:
    [​IMG]
     
  11. [​IMG]
    Richard thanks for helping me with this. Also many thanks to Russ over at camerarefurb.com he sent me this email he wrote... "It's the one labeled 'Sliding Adjustment for Focus and Position of Warning Lamps'. If you loosen this screw slightly and rotate the lamp assembly toward the rear of the camera, it will move them to the left in the viewfinder. Just fiddle with it until it is where you like it. If they appear too high in the viewfinder, you can carefully bend the assembly down somewhat." -Russ, Camerarefurb.com. I did what Russ said to do you can go only so far as the display bracket will hit the inside back of the camera cover. I adjusted mine fully to the rear and now my UNDER yellow arrow is where I can see it just above the top right hand corner yellow bracket mark. It's close as I can get it to where it's suppose to be. But it doesn't look like the manual's pictures of how the display marks should look like and I'm not sure what else I can do to center it over the top of the parallax mask marks. Any suggestions?
     
  12. Guys,
    I bought a Yashica Electro 35 a couple of weeks ago. Initial every thing is find, I've used 4 x LR44 batteries (taped together and use a torch light spring), the battery test light is working, light meter warning lights (red & yellow) also is working. After sometime testing the camera, I've found out that the both (red and yellow) light meter warning lights suddenly not working anymore but the metering system is still okay because I set the aperture a f1.7 and change the ASA, the shutter shuts at slower speed a lower ASA value and shuts at faster speed at high ASA value. FYI, the battery test light is working.
    Need you opinion on what's the problem?
     
  13. Zulkarnain -- The key question is whether it's just the lights or if the shutter timing is working properly. If the electrical part of the shutter fails, it falls back to 1/500th. If you are still getting slow shutter speeds in low light, then you have an operable camera.
    For how to fix the lights, you'll need more expertise than I have.
    In addition to the other references above, I have now met Jeff Guthrie (see his post above) and seen his work... He buys, sells, and fixes these cameras. He knows what he's doing.
     
  14. Richard..thanks for the advice.
     
  15. Based on an email comment, I want to correct an error in this posting.
    At point #4, I suggested using "B" to look through the lens in bright light. In a later step, I suggested inserting a battery for continued tests.
    From the comment, and closer inspection of my recently CLA'd Electro GSN, without a battery the "B" setting doesn't hold the shutter open. So, the test suggested at #4 should be done after you have inserted a battery... Move step #4 to between #8 and #9 for example.
    I was under the mistaken impression that on "B" the Electro shutter would stay open mechanically. Instead it appears to depend on the battery to hold the shutter open.
     
  16. Just learned that, without a battery, some Electros will trigger an attached strobe, some won't.
    (I've changed my name here on photo.net... Sebastian Moran is a "heavy-game shooter." Seemed appropriate for a photographer.)
     
  17. Do these tests also apply to the GX?
     
  18. Sorry Rob, I'm not watching this thread regularly.
    Yes, I have two good GX cameras. Same tests should apply to the GX.
     

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