Yashica ME1 Review : The Boys from Brazil (and Japan)

Yashica ME1
Yashica ME1

The Yashica ME1 is often overlooked due to Yashica’s heritage of classic rangefinders but this little plastic P&S is suprisingly enjoyable abet with some quirks.

Coffee chat
Yashica ME1 with K2 Yellow filter shooting Ilford XP2 at box speed.  Carlisle 2014

The camera has a slightly interesting history. It started its production run in Japan in 1970 where mines came from but by 1977 it was the first camera produced by in Yashica’s factory in Brasil. Is there any difference ? I doubt it but mines has Japan stamped on  the base so I can’t say.

Yashica ME1 Specs

  • Lens:  38mm 1:2.8
  • Focus: Scale & Zone Focus
  • Metering: CdS,
  • Battery: px675
  • Aperture: f/2.8-16
  • Shutter: 1/60-1/360
  • EV 100asa: 9-17
  • ASA:  25-500ASA
  • Filter-Thread:  46mm

The model’s body is predominately plastic, perhaps a reason it is overlooked but this pretty hard wearing. It’s curved styling feels more modern than the early 70’s with a recessed shutter button. The camera has a false plate but no equivalent rangefinder seems to exist. The ME1 shares some features with the earlier and more metallic ME.

Brazuca
Yashica ME with Kodak BW400CN. Carlisle 2014

Ignore the bodywork for the moment. Underneath is a pretty typical 70’s P&S matched up with a Yashica  glass lens. Metering is by a CdS cell which relied on the now defunct px675 mercury cell. A range of replacement options exist with the cheapest and widest available being the  zinc air ZA675 cell for hearing aids which are widely available. They only last 3-4 months but are pretty cheap. Focus is either by 4  zones (there is a Judas window like the Olympus Trip 35 allowing you to see from viewfinder) but you can also focus using a scale on the other side of the lens. The viewfinder has a metering bar but this doesn’t show shutter or aperture info,  just if in in exposure or over or under (shutter lock on underexposure). For some this will be an issue but the reality is having more info never really affects your shooting.

Peek
Yashica ME1 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Dumfries 2014

The camera doesn’t have a cable release thread but does have a timer. The camera also accepts 46mm filters which as the the CdS cell is lens barrel mounted will be automatically adjusted for. Film is loaded upside down compared to most cameras with the winder on the bottom of the rear.

Which way ?
Yashica ME1 with Kodak Ultramax 400, Falkirk 2013

Shotwise its pretty good for a P&S. The exposure system is pretty accurate and the Yashicon lens is pretty crisp. It’s no great evolution compare to the Trip  but works well. The usual exposure control dial exists with A for auto and  the ability to set f-stops for flash

winter sunset
Yashica ME1 with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200. Eden Valley December 2013

The camera has a relatively limited (and odd) 1/360sec upper shutter speed but this still allows for EV17 at 100asa making this a reasonable shooter for most conditions. It is a bit more limited at the lower end by a 1/60 sec slowest shutter. You can exposure lock by depressing the shutter halfway.

I like this camera. It’s nothing special but it does pretty well.

The Citadel
Yashica ME1 with K2 yellow filter using Ilford XP2. Carlisle, 2014.

They aren’t common but crop up on eBay fairly often. With a bit of luck you can get for a £5 or less as they aren’t too popular. You’ll need a cap to protect the battery as the metering doesn’t ever shut off except in dark.

Alternatives

  • Olympus Trip 35 –  The Classic P&S camera form the late 60’s
  • FED 50 – Bonkers in a good way FSU Selenium metered compact
  • Smena 8m – manual Russian P&S with a killer lens

Helpful links

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