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10-11-2008, 02:52 PM   #1
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Three screw mount cameras compared

I just got this camera, for $9 on the bay, lucked out indeed. It came with the manual and accessories brochure, and a DS-M 50mm f/1.7 lens. The lens doesn't have an Auto/Manual switch, so is of limited use on digital / K-mount cameras.

For the attached images, clicking on the link will give you a larger image to look at.

I think it's a pretty camera, I especially like the heraldic tattoo on the prism housing, and the atomic 'electro' symbol.
The lever visible on the lens housing is for mirror lockup. That's a cool feature, Yashica sold a 21mm f/3.3 lens that extends way back and came with an auxiliary viewfinder.
On the top deck the battery check is visible, as well as the X sync terminal over the side. There's a M terminal towards the back.
The other feature visible here: the Electro-X opens with an old time latch rather than via pulling up the rewind crank. I kind of like that retro touch.

Top deck. The battery on this one is a 6v PX-28 / 544. The Yashica Guy's Electro GSN battery adaptor uses this very battery, so it was a matter of stealing the battery from the GSN to get this camera running.
The top speed is 1/1000. Without battery that's all you get. With battery, the shutter is electronically controlled and makes a nice sound. Theoretically it is stepless, but there are detents until 1/30, after which you can set exposure continuously.
The meter uses two arrows, pointing you the direction to turn the aperture ring. Based on my testing, it seems to be +- 1/2 stop - on a lens with 1/2 stop detents there are three clicks where the arrows remain extinguished.
That's about all that's unusual here.

Fujica ST605 - top speed 1/700, I like that it is small for a screw mount camera. You squeeze a button under your right hand fingers to stop down and turn on the meter - I think that's the best arrangement of all. The shutter is mechanical so all speeds are available without a battery. The mirror is a bit strange, it seems to be some sort of mylar film as there's a flexible bend to it towards the rear.

Yashica TL Electro-X - top speed 1/1000, electronically controlled. It is larger than the Spotmatic even. The meter / stop down switch is available to your right hand, you push it down. This leaves your left hand free to change aperture. It doesn't stay on, you have to keep pushing it down.

Pentax Spotmatic SP1000 - top speed 1/1000, mechanical. This model omits the self timer - I really like the camera. Unfortunately my daughter has socialized / nationalized this one for her own. The meter / stop down is on the left hand, you push it up and it stays on until you click the shutter.

Electro and Spottie compared. Not much more to say.

Unscientific comparison of view finders. I wasn't conscious of large differences in image size or brightness.


The SP1000 also has a microprism and a good ground glass. The meter for me is more visible than with the Fujica.


The Electro-X has a microprism and while not as good a ground glass as a Pentax KX, for example, it works well. You can see the 'over' arrow lit telling me to turn the aperture lower.


The Fujica St605 has a split prism which can get dark with lenses stopped down past f/5.6. The meter is all the way on the side and I find it difficult to read stopped down and especially if there's dark stuff on that side. I wear glasses.

Comparing them here, doesn't it seem the Electro is squarer than the others, so probably doesn't have as good a coverage?

Last edited by Nesster; 10-15-2008 at 01:07 PM.
10-11-2008, 04:39 PM   #2
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so which one is your favourite?
i'd love to try one of these cameras but worried about inaccurate metering. is it Center-Weighted?
10-11-2008, 08:21 PM   #3
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I don't know about the Electro and the Fujica, but I know the Spotmatic is a center-weighted averaging meter, which means it's strongest on center, but also takes into account overall scene brightness, which in my opinion makes it less accurate. If you have a spot-meter, which was supposed to put the "spot" in Spotmatic, you can aim the camera at something in particular and get that object perfectly exposed. But if you're trying to expose two people on a beach at sunset, and you're using a Spot, chances are you'll get silhouettes or very dark people against a very pretty sunset, because it's taking the sunset into account to.

A switch would have been nice, but hey. I love my Spot, regardless. I'd say it's a damn fine camera for it's time.
10-12-2008, 12:49 AM   #4
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All 3 cameras are center-weighted, and good enough to shoot Kodachrome 64

The fujica and yashica are quite younger than the SP, thus they have some improvements.
The finder in the Fujica (I have the 701) is the brightest of the 3, great for macro
The shutter in the Yashica is electronic, and in theory more precise than the others. Mine Yashica has developed some problem and it does not work anymore though.

I prefer the Spottie, is simpler and handles better.

10-12-2008, 05:19 AM   #5
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Hmm, with the Yashicas, the naming conventions are all over the place. The TL Electro is the youngest, the Electro-X is the oldest, from '68 through '74.
While there's some confusion about the SP1000, I think it was introduced in '74. Although of course it is based on the orignal SP.
The Fujica ST605 is the youngest, from '77 per this site. The fuji naming convention seems to put significance on the last number: the higher the later. OTH the first digit also means a higher spec camera.

However in basic screw mount cameras later isn't necessarily better: the market was moving from the screw mount, and what a few years earlier represented the top of the quality heap now relied more on price and volume... Which is a way of saying that as excellent as the ST605 is, it is built to a price.

i'd love to try one of these cameras but worried about inaccurate metering. is it Center-Weighted?

Part of the experience is to develop skills and thinking as part of the picture taking process. Today we've let the camera do the thinking and selectivity for us, or rely on conveniences to keep us photographic couch potatos. We do get more reliability but perhaps at the expense of mediocrity?

(Even these cameras at the time divided the community: those who appreciated SLR and TTL metering, and those who essentially went humbug.)

So yeah, you can get very accurate metering if you put your mind into it: with the beach, I pre-meter for the effect I want, for example.

Which is my favorite? The SP1000 of course (I suppose, but it's not mine any more), though there are things I like about each. The Yash is very solid, and I like the fuji's size and meter button. But like I said, with glasses and I believe a light falloff with the fuji view finder, metering can be a challenge for me. This is the reason I got the Yashica.
10-12-2008, 05:40 AM   #6
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from the first roll with the Yash, by the way. Needs a re-seal job.
10-12-2008, 08:05 AM   #7
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Cool pictures
yeah you need new seals
Is it overexposing by a little (2/3 or 1)?
10-12-2008, 09:27 AM   #8
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Yes, looks like about 1 stop

10-20-2008, 02:44 PM   #9
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I still have my SP1000 which I bought new around 1975 or so, about a year before the K mount cameras came out. It still works after all these years ( or seems to) but I haven't used it in a very long time. As I remember, the meter was pretty good but it was a stop down meter which was considered obsolete by the 70's. That camera went through a lot through the years (and me along with it) but its one that I will always keep. Lots of good memories, the camera and also the photos I took with it.
10-20-2008, 06:49 PM   #10
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I was looking for a Yashinon 50/1.4, and it came with a free TL Electro X attached. Since I wasn't too concerned about taking care of it, I took it out in the rain a couple of weeks ago. There's some pics here:

Yashica TL Electro X Sample Images Photo Gallery by Jerry Thirsty at
10-20-2008, 07:26 PM   #11
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I also picked up 3 screwmount cameras in the past week.

After seeing Nesster's pics a little while back, I ended up grabbing the Yashica TL Electro-X. The price was too good to pass up. Mine has a black body and came with the Yash 50/1.4, Viv 28/2.5, and Viv 300/5.6 (T4 mount with U adapter for M42). Also got a Viv 283 flash and bracket as part of the deal....all for $68 shipped.

Haven't developed the roll I ran through it over the weekend, but liked the camera's features and ease of use enough that I grabbed another one with a Yash 50/1.7 for $20 shipped. Also grabbed a Mamiya/Sekor 1000DTL for $15 shipped.
10-30-2008, 03:27 PM   #12
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I'd love to try film ... it'd be something different.
Just need to find the right camera body now ... and do a lot of reading up as well.

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