Whenever I see a product shot of a Yashica rangefinder camera it takes me back to my early days as an amateur photographer. The Yashica Minister D, possessed solid optical features that allowed me to shoot in a wide array of lighting conditions. The shutter action was smooth and quiet which allowed me to remain unnoticed when shooting around the school or on the city streets.
Yashica’s rangefinder focusing system was fairly standard in the 60s and 70s but it did allow me to develop my zone focusing techniques. Even now after 40 or more years I still prefer manual operation to the modern digital camera’s autofocus systems. The camera’s large viewfinder makes it fairly easy to view your subjects.
There are certain features on Yashica’s rangefinder models back in the 60s and 70s that were extremely attractive for budding photographers. The viewfinder was roomy and allows for full visibility when framing a shot. The smooth cocking action of the film advance and gentle but sure click of the shutter release reassured you that you got the shot.
The RF cameras were perfect for this kind of casual photography. We wanted to be photojournalists taking street life shots and Ansell Adams’ landscapes. The Yashica rangefinders offered that kind of flexibility at a great price for photogrphers.
Loading and rewinding film was made quick and easy with this camera body. There’s plenty of space afforded by its layout to load and shoot on the run. The Yashinon was a fairly fast lens for the time and money. Popping in a roll of 36 exp. – ASA 400 Kodak BW film allows gets your day started off right.
The camera’s user selectable shutter speeds started with B and got up to 1/500 sec and had a fairly good flash sync at .60. You could set the shutter at either X or M unless you are using the self timer. For some reason you had to have the camera on when using this feature with or without flash.
Another great feature that made it easy to operate was the way the f-stop changed when you moved the aperture ring. With the user selectable input your range of F-16 to f2.8, although you can set it two separately for the use of an outer ring on the lens.
Yashica’s parent company purchased lens manufacturers and prided itself in the sharpness and precision of the glass. For some reason various models had different mounts; rangefinders were either screw mounts or bayonet mount lenses depending on the particular format/model.
Since the demise of the company after being purchased by Kyocera, lots of camera buffs and collectors have made many of these models their target for acquisition. Both the rangefinder and SLR models can still be found on the Internet if you take the time to look around. If you do get your hands on one of these cameras in pristine condition, treasure it because as the old saying goes, they don’t make them like this anymore.