Yashica made many half-frames with many unique features. Most notable were cameras with special quick-advance features and full-information viewfinders. Then, of course, is the Samurai series -- not the first half-frame SLR, but certainly the most advanced half-frame ever made.
(1961) Yashica's first half-frame was a vertically-styled camera, similar in appearance to the Taron Chic. It has a 28mm manually-focusing (f2.8-22) lens which is marked in meters on one side and feet on the other. Close-focuing to 3.3 feet with a filter thread of 24mm. The selenium meter (on the top of the camera) produced a recommended exposure in EVs on a readout on the front of the camera. This may sound like a strange arrangement, but it works quite well since you can take a meter reading while pointing the meter at the subject. At the same time, the lens/shutter combination is pointing up at you for easy adjustment of the shutter speed, aperture, EV setting and focusing ring. The camera has manual shutter speeds of B, 1 - 1/500. During the metering, the readout displays an EV number, after selecting an appropriate shutter speed, you can dial in the EV number. At the same time, it displays the selected f-stop. If you prefer, you can select the f-stop directly. Built in cold shoe, tripod socket, PC contact, cable release connection, and self-timer. Film speeds of 10 to 800. Parallax markings in the viewfinder. M and X flash sync. This camera has it all! The camera is called Rapide, not because it used Agfa rapid cassettes (it did not), but because it had its own, unique method of film advance. To advance the film, the wrist strap (actually it's only big enough for one finger) is "yanked".
It's exactly the same as Yashica Rapide, but with a different name. It is more often seen as the Rapide.
(1962) A vertically-styled camera that looks similar to an 8mm movie camera -- only wider. It had a 28mm, manually-focusing (f2.8-22) lens with idiot symbols instead of feet/meter distance marks. The exposure system is metered-manual. First, the film speed (10 to 800) is dialed into selenium meter. When the camera is pointed at the subject the meter displays a number in a window on top of the camera. This number is then dialed into an "exposure" ring on the lens. The shutter speeds (1/30 - 1/250) are set when the film speed is dialed in, and then aperture fine-tunes the exposure. For flash use, the "exposure" ring around the lens is set to the "FLASH" mark and a separate lever allows you to select the desired f-stop. The shutter is 1/30 for flash use. The exposure ring also has a B setting which allows manually setting the f-stop. This is the same set-up that the original Canon Demi half-frame used. No manual settings of the shutter speed, except B and FLASH (1/30). The Sequelle also sported a battery-powered, built-in motor drive for advancing the film. Viewing was through a pop-up sports finder. Tripod socket, cable release socket and PC contact built in. No built-in flash shoe. In order to use the camera you'll need the motor-drive battery holder which takes three AA batteries and fits into the back of the camera where film normally goes. You'll also need the special film take-up spool, which slides into the side of the camera with the film. Apparently a rare version with a 45mm (f4.5) lens was made for police use, although in all other respects it is the same camera.
similar to the Mimy, but with a focusing lens.
In 1965, Yashica modified the original Half 17 and created a model called the YASHICA HALF 17 RAPID since it uses Agfa Rapid cassettes. It is nearly identical to the Half 17 with the same lens and most camera features, but the body is about a quarter of an inch longer to accomodate the RAPID cassettes. The camera does not have the film speed dial of the original since it does not need it -- the tab on the RAPID cassette sets the film speed. The camera no longer sets the exposure automatically, for some unknown reason -- sort of defeating the purpose of a "rapid" camera. The camera has the same selenium meter as the original, but in this model it is a match-needle meter. The shutter speed is no longer displayed in the viewfinder -- just a match needle system. To operate, you turn the EV ring around the lens until the needle in the viewfinder matches the notch on the scale. The EV ring manually changes the f-stop and shutter speed in combination -- from f1.7 at 1/30 to f16 at 1/800. The EV ring actually has two scales. In match-needle mode, the scale is marked in EV numbers which is also useable with many hand-held meters. For flash purposes, the aperture can be set manually -- on the other end of the scale -- and the shutter fixed at 1/30. "B" can also be selected on the EV scale (that's right), which fixes the aperture at f1.7 -- just like in the original. The viewfinder also shows distance and parallax information. Camera included cold shoe with PC contact, self-timer; tripod socket and cable release connection. At least this model kept the "upside down", thumb-operated film-advance system.
(1988) The Samurai X3.0 was the first model of a series of ergonomic (built-to-fit-the-hand for one-hand operation), half-frame, "bridge" SLRs that Yashica manufactured beginning in 1988. It is a true SLR camera which makes it stand out from many point-and-shoot cameras, as does its half-frame format. The zoom covers a useful range -- 25-75mm in half-frame, which gives an image size approximately the same as a 35-105mm zoom in full-frame. The lens is threaded for a standard 49mm filter, and gives effective f-stops from f3.5 at wide angle to f4.3 at telephoto. The viewfinder has an adjustable diopter to fit sharpness to the user's vision. Shutter speeds range from 2 sec. to 1/500 sec. The shutter speeds and aperture are automatically set by the camera, and there are no manual settings. But there is a built-in flash which can be turned off, turned on, or left to operate in various automatic modes. An addition, a built-in hot-shoe allows for the use of more powerful flash units. The exposure, film advance and focusing are strictly automatic. The standard model is black, but the control buttons came in different colors, such as red, grey and green. Various accessories were available, such as wide and tele lens converters, cases, straps, etc. Uses one CR5 battery. There are several "sub-models". The most common is the left-handed version. There was also a clear, fully functioning model for demo purposes. Last, but not least was the Grand Prix 88, often called the gold version -- but it just has a gold shutter release and lens cap.
The X4.0 is a modified version of the X3.0. The main difference is the lens -- it's now a 25-100mm (f3.8/4.8) zoom -- which requires a slightly enlarged camera body, but the overall shape and use was not changed. The lens change also requied a move to a larger filter thread -- 52mm. On this model you don't need a ''clip on'' hot shoe adapter like you do with the X3.0 to add additional flash. It's built in. In addition, the shutter speeds have changed a little, here they are 3-1/300 sec. instead of 2-1/500 sec. Also multiple exposure automatic mode was added allowing up to 5 shots with one press of the shutter release. It came in left or right-handed models, and there were variants with colored trim as well. Uses one CR5 battery.
The only word for this camera is "WOW". It's a smaller version of the original Yashica Samurai, but it did not skimp on features -- just size. And unlike a lot of auto-everything cameras there are no buttons or switches to set before use. Simply drop in the film cassette, push the ON lever and you are ready to shoot. The zoom toggle falls under your index finger naturally. A slight press on the shutter release (right next to the zoom toggle) focuses the lens and determines the exposure. A final press takes the picture. It has a 25-75mm motorized zoom (equivalent to a 35-105mm on a full frame 35mm camera) (f4.0/5.6) lens with 12 elements in 10 groups. It has a through-the-lens, center-weighted silicon exposure system that automatically controls the electronic shutter (from 4 seconds to 1/500) and the aperture. Automatic DX coding of film from ISO 25 through 3200. Manual exposure compensation of +/- 2 f-stops. Autofocusing from infinity to 28 inches. Motorized film advance and rewind can be set for single or continuous film advance up to 4.5 frames per second. Multiple exposure, self-timer, intervalometer and combinations of these are built-in for fascinating picture possibilities. Features and settings are displayed on an LCD panel on the back of the camera. Built-in calendar and clock can imprint film with various date and time configurations. LED's in the viewfinder tell you if the focus and exposure are correct. You can also turn on -- or off -- a beeper as an auditory check. Built-in pop-up flash can be set for automatic, manual, fill-in and other settings. Includes hot shoe, tripod socket and even diopter adjustment on the viewfinder. Accessories include hand strap, side-grip strap, case, additional flash adapter, 43-58mm step-up ring, eyecup, 1.4x screw-in teleconverter (yielding a 35-105mm zoom) and closeup lens (focusing to 14 inches). Put all this stuff in a regular 35mm and you'd need a suitcase! But yet, it all fits in one hand! And the list of features goes on! You can see why this camera has been selected as the "mascot" for this web site. Although the manual features of this camera are limited, the sharpness of the lens alone makes up for it. Uses a CR5 battery.
Left-handed version of Samurai Z. Uses a CR5 battery.
A later (1990) version of Samurai Z. Uses a CR5 battery.
A left-handed version of Samurai Z2. Uses a CR5 battery.
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