5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Yashica Half Frame 17 Rapid – by Denis Savinov

September 7, 2018

I’d been looking for a half-frame camera for a long time. Less film, more frames – a traveler’s dream. One day on eBay I found this legendary Yashica; 1965, excellent condition, working order and only 800 rubles (13$)! I quickly contacted the seller and a week later held it in my hands. But my joy was not long lived; it turned out that I did not read the description properly and as a result I bought a Rapid version of the camera. This meant I needed special rapid cassettes which have not been available for about 30 years…

But, thanks go out to the seller as he added 2 empty cassettes to the camera. After several weeks of experiments, I learned how to not only quickly charge the film for 24/48 frames (standard for rapid), but also how to remove this restriction and use 36/72 rolls of film!

The camera is beautiful! Yes, it is a bit heavier than I thought, but you only notice it for the first couple of days. The lens is great, you just need to learn how to calculate the scale of distances correctly.

The exposure meter works fine, and there’s almost no flawed images. So after a while, and some spoiled film, this is my favourite pocket camera for travel! The result is still sometimes unpredictable because of my focusing skills, but the pleasure of the process can not be replaced by anything!

I develop  black and white by myself and have a lab develop the color rolls. The shots below are from a roll of expired Kodak Ultramax 400, scanned on my Canon 9000f. The light leaks are the result of my experiments with full 36 film rolls.

I’d be happy to answer any questions!

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  • Reply
    Andrew Swingler
    September 10, 2018 at 12:43 pm

    I have a Fujica half with a moderately similar design to your Yashica. In terms of looks and build quality its my favourite camera, it’s a little heavy like you mentioned about yours. I like that though! They really don’t make them like they used too!

    I like the shot in the Car, really cool!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2018 at 9:16 am

      Thank you Andrew! Fujica is great! 👍🏻

  • Reply
    September 10, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Nice. Very pretty camera & well done for overcoming the obstacles in putting it to good use!

  • Reply
    March 27, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    Nice post, And nice pictures. Could you tell me how you use the 36/72 rolls?
    All the Best

  • Reply
    March 28, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Hello Denis
    Thanks for the story.
    I have myself bought one online not reading enough and now I can’t use it because of the film situation.
    Could you give me any tips on how to charge film? Is there any possibilities without empty cassettes?

    • Reply
      March 28, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      Hello Etienne, thank you for reading my story. As far as I understand you don’t have rapid cassettes so the approach is very simple. I go into the darkroom, take the new 35 film out of the cassette and hand-twist it into a narrow roll. This roll I insert into the left empty place of the camera (so you don’t even need rapid cassettes) and a tail of a film I transfer to the right to hook perforation of a film on a scroll wheel. I close the back lid and rewind the film to the first frame as usual. It’s probably hard for the first time and maybe the film will not go as it should, but after some practice I got how to do it right. When you start shooting after 24 frames you will know that camera has a limiter and after 24 frames it blocks the shutter button. To remove it, you just need to open and close the back lid (in the dark of course so not to expose the film). After that, the counter will reset and you can continue to take pictures. After taking all 72 frames – go to darkroom, pull out the film and put it in a standard black tank. Then you take it to the lab and don’t forget to tell the lab that film in tank is without cassette ))
      Hope it will help! Good Luck!

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    I bought a Yashica Half Rapid 17 ee. Unfortunatly, the lightmeter is not working, as it appears. Any Ideas on how to fix / replace that?


  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    Sorry for double posting, but I forgot to ask: If you give your film to a photo lab, wont they cut every 2nd image, because of the half format?

    because it goes something like

    |X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||X| <- half frame
    |XX||XX||XX||XX||XX||XX| <- regular frame
    opposed to a regular film?

  • Reply
    October 24, 2019 at 11:03 pm

    One more thing I dont get: Is every aperture coupled with a specific shutter speed?
    As I understood it: You select an aperture and the camera set’s the shutter speed. Or is it that I just select a pair of aperture and shutter according to the EV value measured by the camera?
    I need some clarification because I don’t get it…
    Cheers again

    • Reply
      December 17, 2019 at 1:33 pm

      Aperture is coupled by speed. The shutter is a two leaf shutter that also functions as the diaphragm.

  • Reply
    March 20, 2020 at 3:10 pm

    I have the same model , the lightmeter is working fine , but it doesn’t fire the shutter the blades are not opening, do you think is this camera faulty or it need film to get the shutter fire

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