I should really call this the accidental camera page. These cameras either fell into my hands by chance, or were purchased on a whim because of their classic, timeless appeal.

YASHICA

I am primarily an Olympus/Minolta user, and know next to nothing about Yashicas. So what am I doing with Yashica cameras? I admire great engineering and of course the excellent Yashinon lenses.

I’ve a Yashica rangefinder (Electro 35 GSN) an early SLR (the TL-Super) and a special purpose Dental Eye (read MACRO) special purpose camera. Yashica was a big name in cameras when I was a boy, my uncle, who used to do some commercial photography work in his spare time (weddings etc) was a Yashica man, and the first real camera I ever encountered was a Yashica TLR. Every studio photographer back home had one of those babies. My uncle did his own development too. Wish he was around to teach me.

All this was well before the great partnering between Yashica and Carl Zeiss to produce the Contax and of course the C/Y mount lenses. Zeiss recognized Yashica’s (Tomioka’s) expertise in lens design, and knew that they had what it would take to rebuild the legacy of Contax. Maybe this was good for Carl Zeiss and Contax, but Yashica the brand was pushed to the background and slowly forgotten.

Yashica-made Contaxes fetch big bucks on auction – but older Yashica’s go begging for buyers, they are really cheap, and great value. There are great bargains to be had even now. I know, I know… it gets harder to find a steal on EBay – there are just too many collectors, many of them very knowledgeable. I don’t really care if the camera’s are pristine, I want something that works OK, even it’s a little rough looking.

Yashinon/Yashikor Lenses

From the late 50’s to 1968, Yashica had their lenses made exclusively by TOMIOKA. Their OEM lenses are named Yashinon and Yashikor. Tomioka was one of the excellent 3rd party optical glass makers who could give just about anyone a run for their money, and Yashica knew they had a good thing going.

In 1968, Tomioka formally became part of Yashica.
Here is a brief history of Tomioka.
Yashinon lenses have an excellent reputation, and are fast as well. Don’t you believe anything your might hear like .. well they are soft compared to my (insert big name expensive brand here)… These are M42 lenses, by they way, so they will fit any M42 Pentax thread mounts.

Yashica TL-Super SLR

Yashica TL-Super – even the famous OrphanCamera’s website doesn’t have a manual for this old beauty. In fact, the only decent information available is from Matt Denton’s site. I thought that Karen Nakamura’s Photoethnograpy site would surely have something, but no luck. This is one heck of a camera, solidly built, early M42 mount Yashica.

I was lucky enough to get the version with the Yashinon 50mm f/1.4 lens (released in April 1966). There was another version released later that year, in December with a 50mm f/1.7 lens, also an excellent lens. Matt Denton gives the TL-Super a glowing review, but it usually goes for very little on EBay.

Just goes to show how little pre-Contax Yashica SLR’s are worth. Granted, this old beast doesn’t have the cool Contax styling, but it has a rugged, honest, no frills simplicity to it that makes it special.

Yashica bodies of that era are prone to “leatherette rot”, just an unfortunate selection of material that seems to deteriorate much like the foam light seals of the 70’s Japanese Cameras. Mine doesn’t seem to have the problem yet. There are kits available for re-covering the camera body. If you’re adventurous (and thrifty) you might go to a Goodwill store, pick up a cheap handbag and use it for raw material. A little rubber cement and a lot of ingenuity is all it takes. Make sure you have the right thickness though.

The TL-Super is big and heavy. All metal construction and weighs 910 gms (about 2 lbs) WITHOUT the lens. The 50mm f/1.4 weighs a solid 290 gms, so all in all you have a very substantial handful. (I was just thinking – if I could get a M42 version of my Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f/3.5 lens, also nearly 2 lbs, I’d be hauling 4 lbs of metal and glass).
Yashica TL-Super

Yashica TL-Super # xxxxx
Yashica TL-Super # xxxxx
Yashica TL-Super # xxxxx
Yashica TL-Super # xxxxx

Yashica Electro 35 GSN Rangefinder
check out the Rangefinder section for description and pictures

Yashica Dental Eye SLR

see the Macrophotography section for a description of this dedicated Macro camera with a superb Yashinon 55mm f/4 (1:1) Macro lens with built-in ring flash. Comes in it’s own black Yashica case.


Yashica Dental Eye

Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370
Yashica Dental Eye # 006370

FUJICA
Fujicarex II SLR
The Fujica Fujicarex II is probably the most unusual camera I have. It dates from the late 50’s at least, a very early SLR. It’s one of the few cameras that were made with interchangeable front elements. Thats right – its an SLR, but the back end of the lens stays locked in place, while the front element is interchangeable. This means that the lens range is very limited, and it was made with just 3 focal lengths – 35mm, 50mm and 80mm. Here are the pictures of this wonderful old camera.
Fujicarex II

Fujicarex II# xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx
Fujicarex II # xxxxx

ASAHI PENTAX Honeywell Repronar see the Macrophotography section for a description of this unusual Pentax


Pentax IQ Zoom 160

My trusty old point and shoot from the mid-nineties.


RICOH

Old Ricoh manual cameras are truly orphans, since most people don’t even remember (or know) that Ricoh is a Camera OEM. They even made their own lenses, the excellent Rikenon and Riconar brands. (not to be confused with Rokinon, Rokunar or Rokkor please – Rokinon makes so-so lenses, Rokunar makes filters and accessories, and Rokkor is the famous Minolta OEM lens brand).

These days, Ricoh is better known for their copiers and wristwatches, and although they do make digital cameras, they are at best second tier in the field. In their day, they built some fine manual cameras (Rangefinders and SLRs) and are similar in construction to the OM series cameras. Small, solid, light and well designed.

I believe that their brand got diluted when they sold identical clones of their cameras under the Sears name.

That’s right, Sears. Once upon a time, Sears wanted to be all things to all people and sold their own brand of cameras licensed from makers like Ricoh. Sears lenses were made by different folks though… they did shop around a bit. I have seen Sears lenses with a “made in Korea” marking, which makes me think that they probably contracted with Samyang/Phoenix back in the day when Phoenix was trying to make inroads into the US market.

Addendum: I found out recently that Ricoh cameras were also marketed under the Focal brand – that was the K-Mart house brand, for God’s sake. Talk about brand dilution.

Anyway, back to the Ricoh… they are generally great buys since the vast majority of amateur enthusiasts prefer the major brands – Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Yashica/Contax, Minolta etc. As a result, the Ricohs, Sears, Chinons (Chinon is a nice brand name Camera – excellent OEM lenses too) and Konicas can be picked up very reasonably, and original lenses are cheap too. Since they are ruggedly made metal bodied cameras, they are usually in great condition – of course, they will need new light seals and batteries.


Ricoh CR-5 SLR
The Ricoh CR-5 was acquired from a gentleman in Westminster who had it for a while, and wanted it off his hands. It had a couple of minor problems and he did not want to go to the expense of having it serviced. One of the problems was easily solved – needed new batteries. The exposure counter did not work, so one has to keep track of the shots, but everything else worked fine.

I replaced the seals – as usual, they were gunk.
The Ricoh CR-5 uses the Pentax K mount, so lenses are easy to come by. It came with a beautiful little Rikenon 55mm f/2.2. Over time, I added a Chinon 50mm f/1.9 from a parts junker I got off eBay, and a nice Takumar 28-80mm zoom.Ricoh CR-5 Camera

Ricoh CR-5 # xxxxx2500
Ricoh CR-5 # xxxxx2500
>
Ricoh CR-5 # xxxxx2500
Ricoh CR-5 # xxxxx2500
Ricoh CR-5 with Takumar 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5

K mount Lenses for Ricoh CR-5

Rikenon 55mm f/2.2
Rikenon 55mm f/2.2
Chinon 50mm f/1.9
Chinon 50mm f/1.9
Takumar 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5
Takumar 28-80mm f/3.5-4.5

I figured that I’ll need to have a separate page for my Rangefinders…OLYMPUS RANGEFINDERSOlympus 35 RC

The Olympus 35 RC rangefinder was a recent acquisition. I’ve looked the Olympus rangefinder cameras on and off, but they always seem to be overpriced. Besides, when I want to play around with a rangefinder, I have an excellent Ricoh 500G (リコ 500 G). Most rangefinders of that period seem to have similar specifications. Camera makers are peculiar that way – they definitely believe in the dictum “imitation is the best form of flattery”.

This particular 35 RC came to me with crumbly seals (of course), and the usual ‘no battery available’ disclaimer, since it uses a 1.35 volt Mercury battery. Since the 35 RC has a completely manual mode, it’s no big deal as I tend to prefer the Sunny 16 rule anyway.

The Olympus 35 RC is one of the “classic” rangefinders, beautifully built and feels solid in the hand with it’s all metal construction. There’s nothing about this camera that looks or feels cheap. The Olympus 35 RC has a sweet 5 element 42mm f/2.8 Zuiko len and stops down to f/22.

In Auto mode, it’s basically a shutter priority camera. Set the camera to Auto, set the shutter speed to shoot at and the camera does the rest. In manual mode, set the shutter and aperture and shoot. I generally prefer shutter speeds of 1/125 or 1/250 since I tend to stay with lower ISO films like Fuji Super 100 and Fuji Superia 200 although I use Fuji Superia 400 with longer zoom lenses.

This is one of the cameras that has lots of good information online, in particular Andrew Yue’s comprehensive review of the Olympus 35 RC. Other very good reviews are by Matt Denton, Scott Young. and of course, Stephen Gandy at Cameraquest.


Olympus 35 RC Operating Manual

Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896
Olympus 35 RC #353896

Olympus 35 EC
coming soon….


OTHER RANGEFINDERS


Ricoh 500G
This classic rangefinder should not be confused with Ricoh’s much more recent 500G Caplio.
The Ricoh 500G rangefinder was a chance find in a local Goodwill store. I was actually on the lookout on Ebay for an Olympus 35mm rangefinder camera, just so that I could play around with it and compare with my Olympus Trip 35. Now, if you are familiar with the Olympus Rangefinders, you will know that they can be pricey. Anyway, the 500G was in excellent condition, even has its original case. The body is made of brushed aluminum, and it’s a cool looking camera, feels solid in the hand. I think it was made in the early 70’s from the styling.
Replacing the light seals was a trick, though. Unlike other cameras I have worked on, the 500G needs extensive sealing, cut precisely. Getting the old gunk off was a pain too. Anyway, it took me the better part of a day to get it all cleaned and resealed the way I wanted.
The 500G is a coupled rangefinder (coincide the images in the little yellow rectangle in the middle of the viewfinder, and you’re done focusing. Either it’s focused, or not at all. Nothing could be easier. The one issue with the 500G is that it needs the old 1.35 volt mercury battery, but the meter will work fine with a 1.4 V hearing aid battery cell.
I tried the 1.5 volt Silver Oxide cell, but the meter is way off with that voltage. In any case, the Ricoh 500G can work in manual mode. Simply move the aperture setting off the “A” mark to the desired aperture setting, and you are in business. I like using the Sunny f/16 rule, so the meter does not matter much to me.
Check out some sample photographs made with the Ricoh 500G Rangefinder.
Here’s the
Ricoh 500G Manual from Mike Butkus’s great resource Orphan Cameras.


Ricoh 500G Rangefinder
Ricoh 500G Rangefinder
Ricoh 500G Rangefinder
Ricoh 500G Rangefinder

Ricoh 500G Specifications
# Film type 135 (35mm)
# Format: 35mm (24mm x 36mm image dimensions)
# Weight: 14.8oz (420g)
# Lens: Rikenon 40mm fixed lens
# Max aperture: f/2.8
# Min aperture: f/16
# Filter: 46mm
# Focus Range: 90cm to infinity
# Shutter speeds: 1/8 sec -1/500 sec
# Film Speed: 25-800 ASA
# Viewfinder: Coupled rangefinder
# Exposure meter lens mounted CdS with (viewfinder needle shows aperture setting)
# Battery: originally 1.35v mercury cell, use 1.4v replacement (hearing aid battery)
# Flash: Hot-shoe and PC Sync (check manual for recommended speeds)


Minolta Hi-Matic 7s
coming soon….


Yashica Electro 35 GSN Rangefinder
Both Matt Denton and Karen Nakamura have comprehensive information on the Electro GSN, though. The Electro 35 GSN and GTN were the final version of the famed Electro 35 Rangefinders – they were both essentially the same, the GSN was chrome, the GTN was the black version.

Apparently the black version (GTN) has some plastic components to make the production of black parts easier.

The chrome GSN is all metal all the way, and although the black GTN may look cooler and is more desirable for collectors, the chrome GSN is no slouch when it comes to looks. The lens is a 45mm f/1.7 DX. Tack sharp and a superb optic.

The G series of rangefinders especially the GSN had a very long production run, millions of them were made – that probably accounts for why you can pick up a GSN so cheaply. A full sized rangefinder in great working condition for about $30 on average. With an ever-ready case too. What a deal.

The GSN rangefinder has some interesting accessories – a couple of screw on supplementary Yashikor lenses that give the camera very modest telephoto (57 mm) and wideangle 38 degrees??. It needs a supplementary viewfinder that slips into the flash shoe. Hardly worth the trouble, but you can easily find a set.

There’s also a very interesting close-up accessory called the Auto-up which allows the rangefinder to focus down to between 45-80 cm for close-ups. It’s a clumsy system though, and I don’t think I’d ever use it.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx
Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx
Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx
Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx
Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx
Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx
Yashica Electro 35 GSN # xxxxx

Yashica MG-1
coming soon….


Description and photos coming soon


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.

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