I became seriously interested in photography many years ago when I was a senior in high school, which was back in 1975-1976. Prior to that I owned a little Kodak Instamatic camera that shot 126 cartridge film, but I mainly took snapshots of my family and friends. I loved that little plastic camera and yes I still have it.
In my senior year of high school many of my friends pursued photography as a hobby and some were even photographers on the yearbook staff. Although I didn't own a good 35mm camera I was always interested in photography and especially the cameras and lenses photographers used. During that senior year in one of my classes we were assigned a project which was to create a 35mm slide presentation set to music based on a predetermined theme. My friend, Tim, and I decided our project theme would be to compare living in the city vs living in the country and we worked on the project along with two other classmates. Being country boys Tim and I were proponents for living in the country so we convinced the other classmates to handle the city pictures.
I decided that in order to pull my own weight I needed a better camera so I began to save my money with the intent of purchasing a 35mm camera. After I'd saved enough money and with much anticipation and excitement off I went to JC Penny in Hagerstown, Maryland to purchase my first "real camera". This was in the fall of 1975 so we certainly didn't have the choices we have today. I recall debating between an SLR camera, most likely a Minolta or Yashica, or a rangefinder camera. After much internal debate I settled on the Yashica GSN 35 which was a rangefinder loaded with (at that time) state-of-the-art electronics. Having state-of-the-art electronics meant it was completely dependent on the battery. The camera was made in Japan and had a fixed 45mm f/1.7 lens which was an extremely nice as well as a very sharp lens. I recall paying $105 plus tax for the camera and believe me it was a lot of money back then and especially for a guy who at that time had only worked part-time at Tastee Freeze earning less than $3 per hour.
After a little trial and error I learned how to use the camera and used it extensively taking pictures for our "city vs country" project (If my memory serves me correctly we received an A on the project.). I absolutely loved that camera and spent many years taking pictures of the surrounding landscape. Even then I was drawn to landscapes, nature, and beach scenes. The only obstacle in me taking more pictures was the lack of funds to purchase film, film developing, and picture printing. That camera was my constant companion up until 1984 when I purchased my first SLR, a Canon AE1. Since then I've mostly used Canon products.
Although my collection of cameras has grown I still have that original Yashica GSN 35 and it remains a treasured keepsake. They've stopped making the original batteries that powered the Yashica rangefinders but a few years ago I found a company on the internet that makes an insert that allows you to use a six volt battery making the camera functional. Six volt batteries remain readily available to this day. On occasion I will load some film and shoot that treasured Yashica. Each time I hold that camera I'm taken back to the fall of 1975 driving around the country with my good friend Tim looking for country scenes to shoot. That time period is when my love for photography began.
Since then I've managed to acquire two more Yashica GSN 35 rangefinder cameras but the original will always be my favorite.
My original Yashica GSN 35 and original owners manual