The Yashica FR-I is another one of those late 20th century 35mm SLR, based on the Yashica FR and Contax RTS it’s an aperture priority camera which already gives it a plus in my books. And with the C/Y mount you have a pile of great lenses available. However the camera itself has, at least for me, some usability issues that really turned me off the camera as a whole.
Type: 35mm, Single Lens Reflex
Lens: Interchangeable, Contax/Yashica Mount
Years Manufactured: 1977-1981
Over all this is a comfortable camera to work with, clean lines, nice big shutter release, and easy to read settings in the viewfinder. The viewfinder is bright and offers an angled split-screen focus assist, which can be a bit weird at first but I managed to get used to it, and makes it handy for using both horizontal and vertical lines to ensure proper focus. Another solid point on the camera is that it uses the C/Y mount, so you have one of the largest selection of lenses out there including those made under licence from Carl Zeiss (which are just as good as the real thing, look at the Contax G2 for example).
Most of my issues with this camera are probably easily fixed however not many people service these cameras and having enough 35mm SLRs getting it fixed is not top on my list. So my biggest beef with this camera is that the meter is always on, but the meter display is not. You have to press a button on the top of the camera to activate the display in the viewfinder and the button is not in an easy to reach place. You have to lower the camera then press the button and bring it up again since the button is located by the film rewind between the pentaprisim. So not an easy place to go. There’s also no backup mechanical release on the camera so without a working battery the camera is dead.
The Low Down
Unless you have an existing lens system I really would not recommend this camera. The FR-I while a solid feeling camera comes off as a bit cheap. The Yashica lenses don’t produce a good image in my view, so getting a better set of optics would be a must. Personally, go for one of the Contax bodies if you have C/Y lenses. Plus it takes an expensive battery that you really need to get to a specialized camera to store if it dies.
Photos shot in and around Sheridan College and my daily commute to and from
Yashica FR-I – Yashica 50mm 1:2 – Ilford Delta 100 @ ASA-50
Kodak TMax Developer (1+4) 7:30 @ 20C