The Yashica Electro 35 CCN is a baby brother to the full-size Electro 35. It’s smaller and lighter, and takes a battery that you can still get at the drug store (I buy bulk batteries at Thomas Distributing and Batteries in a Flash because I use so many odd sizes in my vintage cameras). It’s very easy to carry in one hand, but a little too big to stick in a jacket pocket. I took the strap off mine because it was that crappy stiff plastic stuff that came on so many cameras is the 60’s and 70’s. It has some weight to it because of its metal construction. There are very few plastic pieces on this little wonder. The lens rings are metal and the focus tab is plastic. The top and bottom plates are metal with the film advance lever end being plastic. The viewfinder window frame and the battery cap are plastic. That’s all the plastic on the outside of this camera.
The camera came from an “as-is” auction that I got for scratch. I had to do some work on the battery compartment (battery and film left in it for God knows how long.) I took the top off, which was very easy. It was a trick getting it back on because of the battery check button. I wound up holding the camera with its back down, then sliding the top on so the battery button would engage the switch inside. Hard to explain without pictures. I cleaned the rangefinder glass which wasn’t bad at all, and scraped the battery chamber free of minor corrosion. I made one slight modification the to camera while I had it apart. The film rewind lever was loose and spinning with film loaded. Having never owned a CCN, I wasn’t sure if this was normal, or if there was a bearing worn out that supplied some drag to the wind shaft. So I found a very thin paper washer that I put just under the wind lever that had enough friction without altering the height. Problem solved.
The CCN has a very sharp f1.8 35mm lens. I’m not sure what f-stop I shot this at, probably f5.6 because it was in the shade near sunset. I like the focal length for this size of camera. It’s meant to be a quick shooter, so a normal 55mm lens would have me stepping back another 6 feet to get the same perspective. Not something you might want to do in a hurry if you’re a tourist.
An interesting thing about the finder of the CCN is that it is roughly 28mm with inner frame lines. This allows you to see action move into the frame. It takes a little getting used to, but is quite manageable after some practice. If you’re new to rangefinders, most viewfinders show more than 100% of the frame. Anything inside the white box will make it to film. But there is a caveat to this – parallax correction. As you focus closer and the lens barrel extends, the frame shrinks. If you’re shooting an SLR, you see the change in your viewfinder because you’re looking through the lens. A rangefinder’s viewfinder is located above the lens, so you are really seeing an approximation of the view. Medium and distant objects are no problem, but closer objects present a framing problem. Three ways to compensate for this are:
- Step back shoot with extra space in the frame and crop in post.
- Put a second frame line just inside the original frame line indicating where the crop will be at minimum focus. Any focus length between this and infinity will fall somewhere between that crop mark and the outer frame line, The CCN is this way, but not the full-sized Electro 35.
- Have either the finder mirror zoom, or the frame lines shrink, as the lens is focused close. This gives nearly the exact frame crop in the viewfinder. This is an advanced method found on only a few early rangefinders. It’s considered a luxury for vintage camera shooters. Of my many rangefinders, only the Minolta A-2, Minolta Hi-matic 9, Konica Auto S2, and Zeiss-Ikon Contessa have this feature.
I haven’t shot wide open at f1.8 yet, but a few shots were at f4 and looked great. I tried shooting into dappled sunset sun to test the flare, and it looks good without too much wash out.
The specs on this camera limit it to casual shooting, which is fine. The fastest shutter speed is only 1/250th, but the fast lens should make up for that. I can’t see sticking a roll of 400 speed film in this camera to shoot in the sun, but cloudy days and indoor shooting should work just fine with that film. All in all, a fun little camera that I will probably always have near the doorway to grab and go. I wish it had complete manual control, but I also wish I had a Leica. For $15, it’s a steal.