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Yashica FR1

David Smith , Apr 08, 2012; 10:32 p.m.

A couple of months back I posted some questions about aquiring either a Yashica FR1 or FX1. There were many great responses on what to expect with either camera including a very nice offer from Erik Magnuson informing me that he had an FR1 just sitting around and if I wanted he could just ship it to me.

Ummmmm, ok. :)

Once again Im simply blown away by the generosity and depth of knowledge one continually finds here on photo.net. This has to be the greatest photo forum currently on the web. Erik, my thanks again sir.

Now to the camera. I have developed quite a soft spot for the old manual focus gear that Yashica put out in the hey day of film cameras. From the old Electro rangefinders to the M42 bodies up to and especially the reborn Contax line. The designs and functionality of these cameras just strike a chord with me. But the lenses, thats what I really love. Most Yashica glass was made by Tomioka and there is just something about the color rendition and bokeh from these lenses that I absolutely adore. So needless to say I was overjoyed when the box from Erik arrived in the mail and inside was a solid but somewhat heavily used aperture priority FR1. Erik had informed me that it was in no way pristine (even missing the timer lever) but functioned perfectly the last time he had used it. He even sent it with a working battery and included the original Yashica DSB 50/1.9 lens that I am assuming it was sold with.

Taking it out of the box I was first struck with the denseness of the thing. Thats the only way to describe it. It is a solid, somewhat heavy chunk of metal that feels absolutely wonderful in the hand. Unfortunately it had to sit around for a couple of weeks before a really good event came up to use it. I finally loaded up some Fuji Color 200 film and tossed it in the camera bag for a trip over to the family easter get together today.

I have to admit that I find that actually using the camera...a bit odd. Not in a bad way mind you, just a little different from the other AE auto 35mm cameras I am used to using. This feeling mainly centers aroudn the way the meter works. You can either slide and hold a small sliding lever with your thumb on the back of the camera to activate the meter or you can pop out the film advance a ways and then slide the meter to lock it. At this point the meter just stays on until you push the film lever back in. It is a very interesting and clever design and one that I think if used on a daily basis would become second nature very quickly. I only found it odd since I am used to my A-1 which ativates the meter with a half shutter press and my XE-7 which has a simple ON/OFF switch. Overall though the camera was a joy to shoot and I felt like I could drop it on the concrete with no damage to the camera, it feels that well made.

I did not use the included DSB 50mm that came with the camera but rather my favorite Yashica lens so far, a series one ML 50/1.7. The ML's differed from the DSB line by having a multi coating instead of a single coating. The series one versions of the ML line are basically the same as the old M42 Yashinon DS-M's with a Contax/Yashica rear end instead of an M42 back. This means that the lens is almost all metal as opposed to the later ML's that went to a plastic body.

So without further ado here is a photo of the FR1 to be followed by some of the better shots I made today. I also loaned out the camera to a couple of young cousins who have expressed an interest in photography and I will include a couple of those shots as well. Always nice to see youngsters with film gear.

Yashica FR1- A solid classic


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David Smith , Apr 08, 2012; 10:36 p.m.

girl on film

easter grilling

whats in the fountain?

a little macro

easter beauty

showing an interest

tried to go with a film look for this digital shot

Hope you enjoy. Happy Easter everyone. :)

Rod Larson , Apr 08, 2012; 11:44 p.m.

Quite some models you have there. Great photos. It looks like the photographer in training
will need some work in keeping the horizon level and keep the fingers from in front of the
lens, lol. Very cute though and my favorite.

My experience with Yashica has been with the rangefinders but I recenly picked up a
TL Electro X body that needs some work and I will probably have to get a lens from
the auction site but it looks like it will be a great camera. I really like the features it has.

Craig Dickson , Apr 09, 2012; 01:02 a.m.

That last shot is so cute it really should have been used in an FR1 print ad back in 1977. I bet it would have sold a few cameras!

The only Yashica camera I've ever used is my TL-Super, which unfortunately has seen better days (long before it came unto my hands, worse still). I can tell it was a nice camera in its day, though, and the Yashinon lens I have for it is very, very nice.

Louis Meluso , Apr 09, 2012; 01:02 a.m.

Nice commentary and photos. Love the last one. She's got the photographer's "squint" down pat. I've been happy with the Yashinon-DX 50mm /1.7 on my TL-Super:
They do have nice build quality.

Rick Drawbridge , Apr 09, 2012; 05:12 a.m.

Excellent stuff as usual, Michael. That old ML is really sharp, and you certainly have a happy knack of capturing charming images of people. "Easter Beauty" really is, and I like the controlled DOF in Easter Grilling. I hope your Easter was as great as it looks!

Les Sarile , Apr 09, 2012; 07:43 a.m.

What a great guy EriK Magnuson is!

Clearly you put it to good use and were rewarded with great light and great family!

JDM von Weinberg , Apr 09, 2012; 10:57 a.m.

It's really great to hear the story and see the results. Thanks for posting this. Nice work.

David Smith , Apr 09, 2012; 12:43 p.m.

Rod- I am indeed blessed with some wonderful models in this family. I cant say Im one of them, but I was lucky enough to marry into them. :) And the little one in the last photo did have a bit of trouble man handling (girl handling?) that heavy block of Japanese engineering around. But this one photo made it all worth while. The TL Electro X is a lovely camera btw. If your looking for a lens for it I would recommend a DS-M since they had all the multi coating goodness on them. Basicly an ML lens in the older M42 mount. But the DS and DX line are good performers to. I dont think a lot of changes went into the optical formulas on these, just the coatings and amount of metal used. Good Tomioka glass to be sure.

Craig- Thanks for the compliment. I do love that photo with Madison holding the FR1. :) And very nice write up on the TL Super. I have to admit that I havent found an M42 Yashica body yet, having only a Contax 167MT and now this one (along with some Electro Rangefinders and a little T-AF) But with my love of M42 lenses and Yashica Im sure one is in my future.

Louis- Ha, another vote for little Maddie as a favorite. She is just so darn photogenic that little girl. Very nice write up as well on the TL Super. As I said above, I think there isnt much difference between my ML 50/1.7 and your DX 50/1.7. It is an excellent performing lens.

Rick- Errrrr, thanks for the compliment. (Psssst...its me, David) :) Im glad you noticed what I did with the DOF on Easter Grilling. Didnt think anybody would catch that. And my Easter was every bit as good as it looked. Hope yours was to.

Les- Erik is a great guy indeed. I need to do a gear give away of my own on here shortly in honor of him. And your right, I was blessed with some incredible light yesterday.

JDM- Thank you sir. Always good to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the post :)

Erik Magnuson , Apr 09, 2012; 02:15 p.m.

I'm happy to see it being used (and used well) instead of collecting dust here -- or even worse tempting me to buy additional lenses to go with it (and collect more dust!) I'm just someone who has a few too many cameras who occasionally feels guilty about hoarding as I don't have time to shoot them all.

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