A couple of years back I stumbled on a fun little camera at a car boot, a Konica Eye complete with it’s funky logo which i couldn’t resist. It turned out to be a half frame camera, which was something I’d never tried before so I thought, why not give it a shot. I put a couple of rolls through it but on the second one most of the exposures were ruined because I’d accidentally set the camera to ‘B’ and overexposed everything. This put me off the camera but the idea of getting pairs of images side by side and seeing what the contrasts are remained kind of seductive.
More recently while poking around on eBay I came across a £10 half frame SLR – A modified Yashica FX-3 Super 2000. These Yashicas were popular choices to be modified as ‘Mugshot Cameras’ for police use. I’ve read a bit about ‘mugshot’ cameras since buying it my FX-3 fits quite a bit of what is out there with the following mods;
- Shutter Speed Fixed to 1/125
- Mask in the film chamber – this appears to be glued in place and is quite thin, it has therefore bent a little in use.
- The viewfinder is also masked.
- The wind on has been re-geared to suit the half frame use.
So, the main down sides of the camera are the fixed shutter speed and the lack of metering, which would be understandable in a fixed studio situation. The positives are as below;
- The lens is not fixed to the body, which is a huge relief.
- Even better, the aperture on the mounted lens actuates so I have some exposure control.
- The self timer mechanism is in place and working – not something I care about but a nice to have.
- Everything works properly, though the wind on is a bit wobbly, and the cosmetic condition is decent.
The included ML 50/2 was in very good shape and free from fungus – dabbling in the Contax/Yashica system for a few years now I’ve tossed a couple of mouldy ones. All in all a worthwhile £10 . So what was it like in use?
I downloaded a Sunny 16 app to my iPhone and went out to try it. Everything worked well and the cheap Yashica 50/2 on the front proved a very decent performer. Check out the images below…