Yashica Rapide Half Frame
Scale Focus

Yashica Rapide Half Frame Camera – History and Review – By Dan Cuny

December 8, 2020

The Yashica Rapide is a camera I’ve had for a few years. Looking around on the internet, I don’t see a lot of information on it. I’m excited to bring this camera to the forefront for others to be aware of and hopefully renew some interest in this oddball half-frame camera. I do like the design and compactness of this camera as it’s something you can easily stick in your coat pocket and bring along for your weekend getaway or summer holiday.

Company Background

To think Yashica started from an investment of $566.00 in December of 1949. The original company had eight employees and started making electronic clock parts under the name Yashima Seiki Company in Osaka, Japan. A few years later, they started making camera parts, and by 1953, they introduced their first camera, Yashimaflex. A twin-lens reflex, medium format 6×6 cm camera. Tomioka Optical Works made all of the Yashica lenses under the name like Yashikor and Yashikon. Their relationship with Yashica lasted for many years and has some excellent optics. They were the optical company that made the professional lenses for Polaroid for their 180, 195 models

Yashica Rapide Half Frame front

Front view with lens cap.

Throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, Yashica produced many fine cameras, like the Yashicamat and the popular Electro 35 cameras. They never were huge success like Nikon or Canon. In the 1970s, Yashica collaborated with Carl Zeiss to make a professional SLR, the Contax RTS, a unique system. In 1983, Kyocera purchased Yashica, and by 2005, the Yashica, Contax, and other Kyocera product ended production.

The Yashica Rapide

The Yashica Rapide is a different camera design than the Yashica Rapid made in the later 1960s. The camera is a vertical format, and the later Rapid has a more traditional 35mm form. The Rapide is an excellent and well-built camera with some smart and not so innovative features. The camera measures 5″ tall x 2.75″ wide x 2″ deep, including the lens, and weighs 1 lb. 3.5 oz. with the lens cap.

Yashica Rapide Half Frame

Front view

The back door of the Yashica Rapide opens from the bottom upward to load the film. You put the 35mm cassette on the bottom. Then tuck the film leader into the film clip on the take-up spool, which is on the top of the camera. The film advances by pulling the leather “wrist strap” or tab on the bottom right of the camera as you’re holding it to take a photo. I have difficulty calling the leather tab a wrist strap as you can barely get two fingers in the loop.

Yashica Rapide Half Frame advance

Winding mechanism

The shutter button is on the lower right side of the camera, so it’s effortless to take a photo and advance the film to the next frame. I do like this feature of the camera. Just above the shutter release is the frame counter. On the other side of the camera are the rewind release button, rewind crank, and tripod socket.

Lens and Shutter.

The Yashica Rapide has a 2.8 cm lens (28mm) f/2.8 Yashinon lens in a Copal SV shutter. The shutter speeds go from 1/500-1 sec. also B and controlled by two pegs that rotate to set the shutter speed. The aperture has settings from f/2.8-22. The aperture sets by turning a knurled ring to select both the EV setting from the meter and the aperture setting.

Yashica Rapide Half Frame lens

Lens Area

The focus is a manual/guess focus lens that focuses from 1 to 5 meters and infinity. There is a green focus setting below the 1 meter, which is C (guessing “close-up”). There is also an indented focus setting of “P” between 1.5 and 3 meters, which is for (thinking “portrait”). The lens does take 24mm filters.

The not so innovative features are how to use the meter. On the one hand, I understand why they did it this way, and the other is somewhat maddening to use. To use the Yashica Rapide meter, you hold the camera face up and point the selenium cell towards the subject. In the upper right of the camera is where you read the EV value. You then turn the dial in the front of the camera to the EV setting from the meter. Put the camera up to your eye and shoot. It’s not the quickest way to shoot but works nonetheless. The meter on my Yashica Rapide isn’t in working condition, so I usually use the “sunny 16” rule or, at times, pull out my auxiliary meter and use that.

Photos from the Yashica Rapide

Camera in my house

Ernie, or Pug.

Backyard

Stairs in the backyard.

Conclusion.

I enjoy shooting with this little gem of a camera. The Yashica Rapide small, compact, and the images are sharp and fun to shoot. The camera is reliable, and the film advance is just brilliant and a hoot to use. Since the camera is half-frame, I was always concerned the film wasn’t advancing the proper amount. When I look at the negatives, the transport is perfect. Great job, Yashica!!! I’m so happy to have this in my collection. To view my images and other camera post, please visit my website here.

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Alex Vye
    December 8, 2020 at 3:56 pm

    Awesome article. Serious question – I have a half-frame camera, the Olympus Pen-S. How did you get your negatives scanned?

    • Reply
      Dan Cuny
      December 8, 2020 at 4:25 pm

      Alex, I don’t scan as much as photographing the negatives. I have a copy stand, Lightbox, Camera w/ Macro lens and I use Negative Lab Pro software to invert the negatives. You can do the same in Lightroom or photoshop for black and white but for color negs, it’s a bit more tricky.

      • Reply
        Alex Vye
        December 8, 2020 at 4:47 pm

        That’s the route I was going to go, just getting started. Two more questions – (1) NLP – I have lightroom (the cloud version) and am having trouble getting NLP added to it- what version of lightroom (if you use lightroom) do you use and (2) (really dumb question) – I was using the smallest f-stop, to get better shutter speed – but would I be better off getting a bit more depth of field

    • Reply
      Dan Cuny
      December 8, 2020 at 4:57 pm

      Alex, I actually loaded it in Lightroom Classic which is easier for me to use, and technically I use the camera on Aperture Prefered mode as the shutter speed doesn’t matter as the camera and base are stationary. Generally, The sharpest aperture on lenses id 2 stops down from the minimum aperture, so if the lens’s smallest aperture is 22, I use 11.

  • Reply
    Alex Vye
    December 8, 2020 at 6:06 pm

    ok thanks going to give it a whirl

  • Reply
    Jens
    December 11, 2020 at 11:51 am

    Dan, I was delighted to read your contribution about the Yashica Rapide. It brings it all back … My dad, himself a passionate photographer, gave me a Rapide when I was 8 years old. I tried myself out with it, taking photos at home, at school, at the zoo and on holidays, all the while learning the basics of photography. I still have some of the prints (the negatives, unfortunately, haven’t survived), and I am amazed at the quality that you could achieve with the half-frame format.
    At one point my interest in the camera went a bit too far when I decided to take it apart to find out what was happening under the hood. I never got it to work again and I guess the disassembled parts were discarded. That didn’t bother me too much, because meanwhile I had been upgraded to one of my dad’s Rolleiflex TLRs (which I didn’t take apart and which still occasionally serves me today).
    Thanks for sharing,
    Jens

    • Reply
      Dan Cuny
      December 11, 2020 at 1:05 pm

      Jens,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m happy you didn’t try to take apart the Rolleiflex and you’re using it still. That puts a smile on my face.

      Happy holidays.

      Regards,
      Dan

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