Yashica Minister III Review : Back to the 60’s in Style

The Minister III is one in a long line of great Rangefinders from Yashica. This beauty in chrome popped up at the start of the 60’s and is good choice for an uncoupled rangefinder of the era

Yashica Minister III
Japanese 35mm rangefinder from the early 1960’s

This oozes quality and late 50’s early 60’s style with a metal & black body and has the classic 1960’s selenium metering ring around the lens.  At the time it probably appeared stylistically and technologically  slightly dated compared to the coupled metered Canon Canonet released in  2 years before the Minister III in 1963, but it’s still a handsome beast with excellent glass.

Detail of Mansion House
Dollar Park Falkirk 2014. Yashica Minister III with Agfaphoto vista Plus 200

Yashica Minister III Specs

  • Lens:  Yashinon 45mm 1:2.8
  • Focus: Rangefinder
  • Metering: Selenium
  • Shutter: 1-1/500 sec + B
  • ASA range : 10-400
  • Filter-Thread:  55mm
Yashica Minister III from above
Yashica Minister III from above. Note metering and controls on barrel

The metering is uncoupled, meaning the metering does not set the camera but is merely displayed as a reading on the top of the camera. You set this on the front ring of lens barrel and then adjust the shutter speed. This matched with the aperture shown in window adjacent to the shutter ring.  This is quite flexible and easy to use and metering on my one was pretty good.

With a bit of nounce you can even shoot film faster than  max supported 400asa. As ever with sensor array around the lens, the metering will adjust to a fitted filter. The Citizen Leaf shutter works well and is reliable (except the timer see below).

Eden at Dusk
River Eden Stanwix 2013. Taken on Yashica Minister III with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 400

Even by modern standards , the bright 1:2.8  5 element lens is a good choice and pretty sharp today. Yashica produced good optics in their day and this doesn’t disappoint. The viewfinder is clear and the spot automatically adjusts for parallax error.

Dew Drops
2013. Yashica Minister III with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

 

The camera has a PC sync for flash with a cold shoe mount point. There is a timer but I’d avoid it as Citizen shutter timers are pretty likely to jam. The camera does have cable release and unusually for the times has a modern top mounted winder arm.

All in all a good camera, but mines has long gone on eBay with some regret. Compared to my other 1960’s rangefinders like the Canon Canonet or the Fujica 35 Auto-M the uncoupled metering was a minor niggle (the canon also has sleeker lines) but enough to make me sell it over the other ones.

Park Life
Dollar Park, Falkirk, 2013. Yashica Minister III with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

Expect to pay into double figures for one although if you get lucky you might snaffle up for under a tenner. As ever with any selenium metered camera don’t buy unless has lens cap as metering tends to die off if left exposed.

Alternatives

  • Canon Canonet – The classic 1960’s Japanese rangefinder
  • Fujica 35 Auto-M – Fujica’s consumer 1960’s rangefinder

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