When you talk about rangefinders, premium brands like Leica quickly come to mind and it’s with good reason. Those cameras are precision tools made by a company that’s been around for the longest time that anyone can remember. But this little looker of a camera in the form of the Yashuara T981 steers away from big brand production and heavy marketing. Instead, it banks on its limited edition manufacturing and good old quality diligence and craftsmanship.
The Yasuhara T981 is a through-the-lens mechanical 35mm rangefinder. It’s a Leica L screw mount camera with a 1/125th electronic flash sync and an impressive 1/2000th of a second shutter speed. It’s a small production camera that released only about 4,000 units and featured a body design that was similar to smaller body rangefinders of the 1950s – thus giving it a retro look and a nostalgic feel for rangefinder enthusiasts. Production ran from 1999 to 2001. The name came from founder Shin Yasuhara of the Yasuhara Co. Ltd.
It may not be the best rangefinder out there but it functions well enough to take beautiful photos with the correct settings. The T981’s 50mm finder makes for clear and bright viewing. The shutter is fairly quiet but users must keep in mind to put the lens cap back on when not in use to avoid light leaks – a common issue with the single layer metal Copal shutter. The smoothly machined and well-placed knobs and levers add to the T981’s classy charm.
What the T981 lacked in technical abilities it made up for with its rich story. Shin Yasuhara, the man behind the camera went all out in producing this modern day rangefinder despite being a small-time camera manufacturer. The Yasuhara Co. Ltd. didn’t have the budget and highly-advanced production line of bigger manufacturer but they still managed to pull this project off. It’s an effort that is well appreciated especially in today’s competitive camera market.
The T981 can be considered as more of a collector’s item than an everyday shooter. Its limited production quantity and rich story are enough reasons to give it a spot in the Lomopedia series.
Yasuhara T981 Technical Specifications:
Mount: Leica L screw mount
Focus: manual rangefinder, 1:1 finder with parallax corrected 50mm finder
Meter: through-the-lens metering with SPD sensor
ISO: ASA 25 to 3200
Shutter: single layer metal Copal shutter with speeds from 1s to 1/2000th second with 10 second mechanical timer
Size: 138 × 80 × 35mm
Battery: 2 D76 or 2 SR44 batteries
Here are some photos taken with the Yasuhara T981 by our very own community members:
All information used in this article was sourced from Camera Quest.