Yashica Samurai Z: Way of the Warrior

8

Yashica Samurai Z! What sounds like an Anime Mecha Warrior or a special combo on Streetfighter II is one of the oddest SLR bridge Cameras ever built. But in fact, it's actually a good one!

Picture from geh.com

So, where to begin? Yes, it is indeed a strange camera and NO, it is NOT a video camera. This is a single handheld, full automatic, half frame SLR fed with standard 35mm film material. It resembles a visual device from those 80s Sci-Fi action flicks. In fact, one of those could have been featured on Robocop. It has been built around 1989 / 1990, when camcorders recieved a certain hype. This is why Yashica/Kyocera decided to release cameras resembling camcorders.

There have been a few models before: The Samurai X.3 and the Samurai X.4 but the Z has received a certain facelift. It is smaller, lighter, and easier to operate single handed only. Some say that it is the best wersion of the Samurais not because of the lens (in that way the X.4 would be your choice) but because of it’s handling and overall features. So here are the hard facts:

*25mm-75mm,1:4-5.6 motorized Lens
*Integrated light meter
*exposure times from 4 seconds to 1/500 (controlled by the light meter)
*72 shots on a 35mm standard film (as it is a half frame)
*Automatic DX coding that reads from ISO 25 up to 3200
*Manual exposure compensation: +/- 2 f-stops
*Auto Focus
*continous mode that shoots up to 4.5 Frames per second
*Multiple exposure
*built in flash
*hot shoe (but you need a special adopter to use it – that I do not own)

Neat, eh?

Its predecessors and the following model Z2 lack of some of these features.

But it ain’t all about the facts, it’s about what it does and how it get things done. As the film is not set in horizontal but vertical, it is meant to shoot half frame landscapes by default. I do not know any other half frames that do this (except the other Samurais). Furthermore, the counting is from bottom to top. So, if you plan to shoot little stories in 2 frames on one print, you have to do the “after” shot before the “before” shot to have it in a “natural” looking sequence. If you turn it 90 degrees to take pictures in portrait mode, the direction is: first the right frame, then the left frame. Tricky, but you’ll get used to it.

But what good is talking? Look at this:

Credits: smu

You get the point.

But the lens is pretty sharp — not the best I have, but also not the least. The handling is as easy as possible: Turn on the camera by flipping up the flash, grab it with your right hand and everything else comes naturally. Oh, you are left handed? No problem — there is a left hand operated Version of the Samurai Z!

It is a bit sad to have no full control on every option of this machine, but sometimes you just have to let go.

And there is one more thing, that you could do with it. If you are able to get your hands on a 35mm movie projector and have a few bucks spare for experiments (I read about it several times but have not dared to try it by myself — so this is at your own risk!): Load the Z with slide film, set it to continous mode and shoot a little movie sequence (about 16 seconds). Load the next slide film, shoot it and so on. Process the films and tell your lab not to cut it, as you will need it complete. Merge the single strips of film to one long strip (you will need some professional tools for that). Then load it into a reel of the projector and get it going! Yes indeed, this is the format of old movies. Crazy!

Credits: smu

I like it somehow, and as these are not really demanded, you can get them for really few money (I got mine for $16 from eBay). You will have to look for it a bit, as these are not as common as the other Samurais, but in my opinion, it will be worth it if you can grab a full working one. Also you will surely need a 2CR5 battery, as none of them would have lasted 20 years, so watch out for that too. All in all, I like this camera: half frame is a nice format to tell micro stories and the Samurai Z is in my opinion the Top Notch in this sector!

written by smu on 2012-02-20 in #reviews #samurai #warrior #half #frame #1989 #yashica #user-review #lomography #z

8 Comments

  1. jeffr
    jeffr ·

    wow! what a camera - thanks for sharing!

  2. easilydistracted
    easilydistracted ·

    I have the X.3 which I adore but I didn't realise the Z had other features such as the continuous modes and multiple exposures, I think I'll keep an eye out for this one!

  3. superlighter
    superlighter ·

    nice pictures!

  4. life_on_mars
    life_on_mars ·

    never seen this camera) but its cool

  5. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Funny, I was look at these Samurai cams on eBay but did not enough about one to consider buying. Thanks for the review!

  6. toledomatt
    toledomatt ·

    Awesome review.

  7. shanahben
    shanahben ·

    Does anyone know where I could buy one? No results on eBay.

  8. clare_eee
    clare_eee ·

    I saw this at the local flea market... :) will definitely get it now!

More Interesting Articles

  • Photographers on Why They Still Shoot Film (Part 2)

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-04-12 in #world #lifestyle
    Photographers on Why They Still Shoot Film (Part 2)

    It is Film Photography Day, and we are counting the ways the activity fuels the imagination. One photographer likens it to the soulful sound of an LP. Another chases its risk or does it with a leap of faith. But the consensus is clear: Film photography keeps people on their toes for the best possible shot!

  • The Analogue Quiz: What B&W Film are you?

    written by andie_sollmer on 2014-10-20 in #news
    The Analogue Quiz: What B&W Film are you?

    Did you ever think about the myth that we actually dream in Black & White? No colors, maybe no truth behind it anyways. But we know for a fact that you can create the most dreamy photographs with an analogue camera. And for that you need the right film. Scroll down and find out which B&W film is the film of your dreams!

    4
  • The Lomo LC-A-to-Z: B for ‘Be Yourself’

    written by jillytanrad on 2014-06-14 in #news
    The Lomo LC-A-to-Z: B for ‘Be Yourself’

    At one point of your life or the other, you’ve probably been told to ‘Be Yourself.’ It’s a pretty simple statement really, but how does it apply to the Lomo LC-A-to-Z?

  • Shop News

    Colorsplash your World!

    Colorsplash your World!

    At 30% off you can now color your analog images with 12 different color gels. Experiment with 35mm slide film and play with the built-in color flash for the most intense colors!

  • Snippets and Vignettes: Old-time optical toys resurrected as outrageous GIFs

    written by cheeo on 2014-05-20 in #lifestyle
    Snippets and Vignettes: Old-time optical toys resurrected as outrageous GIFs

    Have you ever seen those old optical toys they used in the 19th century to make out-of-this-world animated illustrations for kids and kids at heart? We haven't seen them in the flesh but it’s a good thing that Richard Balzer collects them and turns them into amazing GIFs for all the world to see.

    1
  • Bridge Hopping: Escaping Lisbon to Costa da Caparica Beach

    written by jokelangens on 2014-10-03 in #world #locations
    Bridge Hopping: Escaping Lisbon to Costa da Caparica Beach

    Thirty-five degrees. Summer. Lisbon. Seven hills. Worst combination ever! What better to do than to escape the horrible heat of a tropical summer day in Lisbon with its too many hills to a fabulous beach that is just one bridge away? It's enough to just cross the stunning 25th of April Bridge to arrive in an exotic paradise, with great waves and even better people.

  • Creative Ways to Shoot with Your Lomo LC-Wide Camera

    written by Robn Kester on 2015-02-17 in #gear #tipster
    Creative Ways to Shoot with Your Lomo LC-Wide Camera

    What’s not to love about the Lomo LC-Wide? If you are a fan of wide angle lenses or Lomography, you probably have one in your collection. The LC-Wide is a powerful camera with many fun features to get creative when shooting. Best of all, all these are already built into the camera.

    16
  • Shop News

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Whatever kind of film development you're after, you'll find it here! Now you can confidently shoot from the hip without having to worry where to develop those film rolls!

  • The Analogue Quiz: What the Hex is Your Color?

    written by andie_sollmer on 2014-09-23 in #news

    Our Hex colors are a great way to distinguish your photographs according to the shade of color you like most. But which primary color is the one you should use more often in your photographs?

    4
  • Diana F+ Part 1 The Camera: A Dozen of Possibilities

    written by dopa on 2014-06-27 in #reviews
    Diana F+  Part 1 The Camera: A Dozen of Possibilities

    The original Diana F is a plastic beauty from 1960s Hong Kong. The Diana F+ is a reinterpretation, which is in no way inferior to the old Diana. It´s so versatile with all the optional accessories and lenses like no other lomography camera. And because of this, I will show you what makes this camera so special.

    3
  • Creative Vision, Personified:The Community's Most Creative Lomographers

    written by Eunice Abique on 2015-02-03 in #world #lifestyle
    Creative Vision, Personified:The Community's Most Creative Lomographers

    As Steve Jobs puts it, "creativity is just connecting things." It's all about tracing one's experiences and pushing the boundaries of what's already known to establish new things. The Lomography community is no stranger to these instances. In fact, the community is filled with brilliant minds who are always ready to refine existing techniques and look for innovative ways to express their visions and ideas. Here are just a few of the creative lomographers we've come to love over the years.

    9
  • Shop News

    Feed your LC-A 120 the finest emulsions and save!

    Feed your LC-A 120 the finest emulsions and save!

    Shoot more with LC-A 120 without breaking your budget! The Phoblographer Editor’s Choice Award Winner now comes in a Bundle with 120 format film at 15% off!

  • Lomography HQ End of the Year Lomo'Instant Party Pics!

    written by jacobs on 2014-12-30 in #lifestyle
    Lomography HQ End of the Year Lomo'Instant Party Pics!

    Know the best way to create the perfect opportunity for totally rad Lomo'Instant pics? Throw a party! That's what we did anyway. We gathered some of our best friends, including but not limited to, the gorgeous Lomo'Instant and rallied through a Friday night like champs. Get a look at some of our Lomo'Instants from the party!

  • Top Photo Likers of January 2015

    written by icequeenubia on 2015-01-30 in #news
    Top Photo Likers of January 2015

    Hitting the like button to show appreciation for an eye-catching lomograph is like giving its photographer a pat on the back. It goes without words but goes a long way in making one feel appreciated! Meet the top photo likers of January 2015!

    3
  • Through the Dollhouse with Melanie Martinez

    written by mindofmyra on 2015-05-04 in #people #lomoamigos
    Through the Dollhouse with Melanie Martinez

    Melanie Martinez is a woman of many talents. Not only is she a unique singer and songwriter, but she is also an avid photographer who captures the tour life from a perspective like no other. It's time to share the special moments of her Dollhouse Tour and to figure out what makes her mind tick.