This camera came out of left field to me. I have run the #halfframeclub for almost 2 years, but this camera never fit my ideal of what a half frame cameras should be. It’s big and clunky with full auto, zoom, weird bridge design SLR, it looks like an old mini camcorder and unlike the majority of half frame cameras out there, it shoots in landscape mode. Some of the #halfframeclub members have been producing some amazing images with it, so I became intrigued over time. Throw in some quality Yashica glass and I decided to take a gamble on it. Maybe it would be like a half frame T2, 3, 4 or 5…
I tested it with Fuji Superia 400 a few weeks beforehand and the results came out great so I decided to test it with some black and white film to see how the Yashica lens rendered things. A few months back, I set up a test to figure out which slow, low-grain Black and White film I preferred. I had been using Fuji ACROS 100 forever but had a feeling that film wasn’t going to be around much longer so I wanted to see how T-MAX 100 and ILFORD Delta 100 Professional stacked up. The end result of that experiment for me, was that I found them all pretty similar but was going have to test each of them in my half frame cameras.
I have been recovering from open heart surgery in early June and have had lots of time to walk around my neighborhood and shoot. In fact, it’s the highlight of most of my days. The weather in Southern California during June can be super overcast, in fact it’s so common it’s called “June Gloom”. I love shooting B&W film in flat, bright light and a contrasty film like T-MAX 100 paired with the sharp & contrasty lens on the Yashica Samurai seemed like a good combo. So I went for it
I was tempted to throw on a #15 yellow filter but instead, I elected to hack the DX code to EI 50. I ripped thru 72 shots in less than 48 hours. There is something about full auto cameras that promote high film use. When I unloaded the film, I realized I actually hacked the DX code to 25 instead of 50. So when I brought the roll into NCPS, I had them pull the film one stop as I had never overexposed this film by a full two stops. Here are the results…
Just like the Superia 400, I was stoked on the results from this combo. The exposures ended up fine – I probably could have just had it developed at 100 and it would have still been all good. There is also this intermittent vignetting thing at the bottom of some frames, but I don’t mind it at all, in fact I find it charming. But I would like to figure out if it’s occurring when the lens is zoomed out or zoomed in or whatever causes it so I could have a little more control over the outcome (what’s with photographers and control???)
I really love this camera and it looked great. I was stoked enough with these results that I decided to shoot this camera exclusively all summer. It actually prompted me to write an article about GAS for 35mmc. I also wrote a full review on the camera for the #halfframeclub website.
~ Dan Marinelli
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