Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Battery adapter for the Yashica GSN

The Yashica GSN is a great fixed lens rangefinder, with dozens of great reviews on the web, and a lot of great photos floating around from this camera. The things I like about it are that it's inexpensive. I've owned four over the years, and have paid between between $1 and $40 for each of them, and always have taken great photos with the camera.

The things I like about it are the fast f1.7 lens for low light and narrow DOF, the quiet shutter, stepless electronic shutter and durable build quality.

What I don't like about it are the size is a bit large for a pocket camera, it's the size of an interchangeable lens rangefinder or even small SLR/DSLR. Also, while the metering is great, you never get a clear indication of what shutter speed you are using. You set the aperture on the lens, and the camera just determines the proper exposure (during exposure, off the film metering!). You can monitor the meter arrow lights and approximate where 1/500th and 1/30th are and estimate what your shutter speed will be, but you never get a real visual indication. You can also force 1/30th with the flash setting. There is also no AE lock, so in backlit situations, you need to set the ASA dial to compensate.

The last thing, and probably the biggest pain about this camera is it was designed for an old Mercury battery that isn't made anymore, a 5.6V PX32 battery, where there is no exact equivalent in size and voltage available. However, I did some tests and found that the meter circuitry is regulated, at least in my GSNs, and works accurately from about 5.6 V to 6.3V. In fact with my previous 3 GSN's, I used 6V batteries without any problems, usually the expensive (about $9 USD) 6V A544, or 4 stacked 1.5V LR44s, the latter which I can prucahse in Alkalines for about 8 for a dollar, and always used a cardboard or plastic tube insulator with a bolt, foil, or other conductive extendor to get the meter working.

I finally decided to scrape up some parts from the garage and assemble a proper battery adapter, and it was quite simple. Here is what I did to make some low cost solutions:

1. I found some plastic tubing in the garage that is about 1/2" I.D., and about 5/8" O.D. in size, and cut it to about 1.25" in length. I made two versions, but used the same size tubing. Also, cardboard or other insulated tube could work as well for both versions. One version, the one on the left in the photo is for 4 1.5V LR44 Alkaline batteries which I actually prefer to the A544 as these batteries only cost about fifty cents for four. The other version is for the A544 6V Alkaline battery.

2. Once inserting the batteries inside the tube, they need extending by about 1/2" (for the A544) or 5/8" (for the 4xLR44s) as the 4 LR44s stacked are about 1/8" shorter.

3. I taped around the screw and bolt at the end (threads for both versions are #8-32, only length varied), so they fit snugly in the tube and made good contacts at both the battery ends, and the ends where they will contact the camera battery connectors.

4. Once assembled and tighted within the tube, I used a multi-meter to check the voltage, measured the overall length which should be about 1.8", and inserted the assembly into the GSN cavity, with the positive side out, and screwed the cap on with a nickel.

This works well, and meters well with both the LR44s, and the A544, though I will try to use the LR44 solution, as these Alkaline batteries are so inexpensive compared to the A544s.
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great tutorial! i just got my gsn; did your previous GSNs break? if so how? should i be wary?
I would suggest SR44 over LR44 - the Silver Oxide SR44 batteries have better voltage drop characteristics for photography as they run down in power.
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