Yashica Samurai X3.0 (1987 or 1988)

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Yashica Samurai X3.0 (1987 or 1988)
    Yashima Seiki K.K. 八洲精機株式会社
    Kadlubek Nr. YAS1970

    I don't know how I got here exactly, but for some odd reason I got temporarily attracted to the 'swoopy' and flashy styling of the early "bridge cameras". This post continues this minor obsession, one which costs little to indulge these days.

    Some 'authorities' like German Wikipedia (http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yashica ) even claim that the Yashica Samurai x3.0 of 1988 was the "first bridge camera" ( "1988 erschien mit der Halbformatkamera Yashica Samurai X3.0 die erste Bridgekamera") .
  2. However some list the Samurai as being from 1987 instead of 1988, although US introduction was definitely late 1988 and early 1989.

    A 1987 date for the Samurai would reinforce the "first bridge camera" claim, but the Ricoh Mirai ( http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00Yk4S ) and Chinon Genesis ( http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00YqZO for a discussion of a later model ) were also introduced in 1988, among others. The Mirai, the Genesis, and the Samurai also share "futuristic" styling that was clearly in the "air" at the time, even including the Colani Canon prototypes and the Canon T90 and the early EOS cameras.
  3. and the left side and the interior
  4. There's little point to my summarizing what already exists on a number of sites in terms of the technical details on the Samurai x3.0. So I will simply quote the the Subclub article on Yashica cameras at their website (from http://www.subclub.org/shop/yashica.htm ). The quotations are from that source, with my annotations in brackets.

    "Yashica Samurai X3.0
    (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.​

    [Actually, it's not really supposed to be "one-handed", see the image below from the Samurai manual of how to hold the camera ]

    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 25mm - 75mm 1:3.5 - 4.3 is a Kyocera]

    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 optional hot shoe attachment was also available]

    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.​

    [Actually, as the illustrations at the following links show, there were other trim details beside the buttons that were colored, and the "Samurai" text on the left side of the camera matched as well: http://www.lomography.com/magazine/reviews/2008/11/15/yashica-samurai-x3-0-half-format-slr , variants also shown at http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Yashica_Samurai_X3.0 (a grip on the right side and a lens hood) ]

    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.​
  5. I'm not so sure about the often referred to "left handed" version of the camera. I'd think that even a left-handed person could use the right finger for tripping the shutter, etc, but then I'm fairly ambiguous/ambidextrous myself. Of over 7,000 illustrations found by Google™, none that I could see were left handed in the sense of being reversed side-to-side like the following flipped image.
  6. Other useful articles are at http://www.3106.net/photo/cam1069.htm and http://www.3106.net/photo/cam1069.htm .

    The camera has a vertical format that makes the horizontal ("landscape") view the camera default, and makes the whole thing look more like a movie camera than a still camera. Yashica apparently liked this, and the initial Samurai evolved into a number of descendants such as the Samurai X4.0 and the Samurai 4000ix, an APS camera. Still later, there was a Yashica Samurai 2100DG 2.14MP Digital Camera with 4x Optical Zoom. The film actually winds up in the camera, from the cassette to a take-up reel with automatic loading (see the illustration of the interior above).
    The original list price in 1988 was US $535, but I got mine in good working order with a fresh battery for under $20 on eBay. I did find an older repair estimate from a site that no longer seems to be active of $114, so replacement seems a better option at the moment.

    At the risk of being banal, I'm afraid that I have once again visited the central part of my campus.
    The open space in the center of campus. The monumental ceramic sculpture is by N. Vergette called "Here" from 1974.
    The bottom picture shows walkways through the non-rectangular "quadrangle." When the campus was undergoing its initial expansion, they put in some obvious walkways, and then put in new sidewalks where the students had left paths through the lawn.
  7. The second pair is a small Japanese garden on the east side of the 'quad'. The bottom view is the end of a huge linear building devoted mostly to the social sciences and humanities as seen from the Japanese garden.
  8. Campus flora and fauna.
    The fox squirrels are nearly tame.
    The mushrooms are a rarity.
    The purpose of these is to a show medium and close range capabilities of the camera and lens.
  9. That's all, folks
  10. Gave one as a present to my father some 20+ years ago - but he didn't take to photography. Still sits in a cabinet virtually unused, right next to the three or four cameras I gave my mother over the years - and which got used extensively.
  11. At the risk of sounding dumb, how are processing and prints handled? Are normal processing venues able to handle half frame?
  12. Ive found someone selling a cut-away transparent model of the star of your last article - the Ricoh Mirai (2nd to last):
    Its slightly tempting, but I think Ill stick to my SLRs :)
  13. My brother-in - law in florida has a Samurai
    and says he uses normal processing and he gets
    back prints with two exposures on each print.
    there was also the Olympus IS series. but FF.
  14. I have the film processed and left uncut. I scan it in on my own. On my actual film scanner that means two images per scan. My flatbed will recognize and do half-frame (really full frame 18x24mm), but will not do a full roll of 50 images at a single time, probably because of memory shortage on my setup.
    All three of these "bridge cameras" I've done are of interest to me because they are SLR cameras. Many of them reverted to a zooming viewfinder in a kind of reverse evolution as they were developed.
  15. Great post, JDM. I picked on of these up a few years ago for under 20 USD. I need to feed it some film.
  16. Excellent, JDM, another oddball rediscovered. Not being a great fan of the half-frame format, I find it difficult to believe that Yashica turned much of a profit on the Samuri models, but one never knows. Great description and history, and the pics suggest the camera performs adequately, within it's limitations. Many thanks.
  17. I think there was also a left hand version of the Samurai. I remember thinking about getting one for my brother-in-law,who is left handed.
  18. My family's camera shop had a Yashica dealership. I remember seeing the Samurai in the dealer catalog. Yes, there was a left-handed version. Later, when the cameras where discontinued, the left-handed version was heavily discounted to dealers. We never stocked them, though. Also, there was a 4x zoom version as well.
    Great idea, in theory with advances in film grain and sharpness making half frame suitable for all but the biggest enlargements. Not many labs where willing to commit to supporting half frame printing. I think that hurt public acceptance and ultimately caused it to all but disappear. Curiously, the standard crop for APS was only a few percent bigger than half frame and photofinishers pounced on that one. APS claimed advantages over 35mm, mainly in recording info on the film (magnetically, I think), but most photofinishers didn't fully exploit that advantage. Labs usually charged more for APS services and APS cameras with feature sets comparable to 35mm models were more expensive.
    To make a long story short (oops, too late for that, I guess), if half frame had been given the same PR that APS got, who knows how far it would have gone.
  19. I didn't (and don't) really doubt that there was a left-handed Samurai, but how did it differ from the right-handed one? Was it reversed like my picture above, or is it somehow the model with the weird grip-like thingie on the side, or something else altogether?
    As I said, I can't identify a left-handed version in the 16 pages of images of Samurai I found on Google™, but maybe I'm looking for something more overt than the reality?
  20. JDM, I will check among my old camera shop literature (still haven't thrown much away even though we closed in 1993). I may have a photo of the left handed edition. IIRC, though I think the shutter release and grip were on the other side. I will try to find out.
  21. Thanks
  22. Mine is one of the ones with the red trim and the grip handle on the side. (BTW, the triangular bottom plate with the tripod socket is red too!) The grip handle makes one handed holding/shooting much more secure, particularly for those with small hands. However, it makes reaching the zoom buttons with the right hand impossible unless you have huge hands or very long fingers. The grip is integral with the battery door.
  23. Now that's an unusual looking camera and half-frame to boot! Thanks for another great write-up, JDM. These have been really interesting and informative to read. Actually a compilation of all your write-ups would make a nice little book...just sayin'.
  24. Thanks Andy.
    Mostly I'm just having a lot of fun getting and trying out these old cameras (many of which are considerably younger than I am. It's relative, right? )
    Like one of those "hoarding" shows on cable, I need to address the risk pretty soon of being buried alive by all these cameras.
    But what's money and space, compared to the joys of crappy and not so crappy 'classic' cameras?
  25. Is there a tripod socket on both top and bottom of that camera? Did they have some sort of top-mount accessory like some sort of proprietary accessory flash?
  26. There is only a tripod mount on the base. As I indicated in the discussion of the specs of this one, there was an optional hot shoe attachment. That's what the screw hole on top of the camera is for. Some of the pictures on Google images show this on the camera.
  27. I remembered that the name of one of the left handed Sanurais was the ZL. The subclub website refers to the ZL and the Z2L. Photosof these models are shown on the corsopolaris.net website.
  28. I had one for a while. I never could really warm up to it -- I felt it was far too large for a half-frame camera, and the autofocus was maddeningly slow in anything less than bright sunlight. However I thought the controls were well-laid out and the construction was good.
  29. Jeff, can you give a link to a photo? I only know a few words of Italian (O languide caresse) and there's nothing obvious about corsopolaris to me any way. I tried to ask this AM and lost internet service for the rest of the day. I trust no connection.
    I recently have been broadening my selection of old photomagazines by bringing them up into the AF era. In one of them, Popular Photography of December 1989, I discoved ads for the Samurai Z and ZL. The latter is the long sought for left-handed version mentioned above.
    Here is the Yashica ad:
  31. Here is an ad from the same issue from Smile Photo of NYC. Although I don't recall seeing ads from them more recently, they are still at the same location as in the 1989 advertisement.
    The ad shows no less than 4 versions: the 3X reviewed here, a 4X and the Z and ZL.
  32. Cool, thanks for sharing.. I guess southpaws don't need the 4x 25-100 zoom.
  33. I picked up one of these recently. and while interesting, its image quality is substandard in most situations because of its horribly slow and mostly inaccurate autofocus ability in any but the brightest light. Outdoors it does ok.
  34. Patrick, instant Gene W effects. ;)
  35. Much later:
    Other posts done by me on "Bridge Cameras" here at P.net
    Bridge Cameras posts

    Yashica Samurai X3.0 (1987 or 1988) - http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00YvJm
    left-handed" Samurai - http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00a181

    Chinon Genesis II (GS-8) 1990 - http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00YqZO , http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00YqZh

    Ricoh Mirai - an 1988 modern AF film camera - http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00Yk4S

    Canon PHOTURA and PHOTURA 135 CAPTION - http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00Z73j
    Canon T50 (as Bridge) - http://www.photo.net/modern-film-cameras-forum/00byOu
  36. The Samurai would have been great for producing filmstrips (for school, remember those?). Just shoot a roll of slide film and have processed strip returned uncut. Back in the mid-80's I actually did this with a Bell & Howell Dial 35 to make a science fair filmstrip for my students.

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