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Created 13 May 2009 ... Updated 13 May 2009

Yashica Half 17EE Rapid

Yashica Half 17EE Rapid After a steady increase in quality of black-and-white film and the expense of colour film, the 1960s market was ready to accept smaller negatives. Instead of developing a new film format, as Kodak had tried several times, mostly without much success, it was decided to use standard 35mm (type 135) film and only light an area half the standard 24x36 mm size; half format was born with resulting negatives of 18x24 mm size and doubling the number of pictures on a standard 35mm film. Also note that due to this split, the pictures on the negative film are tilted by 90°, making portrait format the basic format, taking pictures in landscape format are done by turning the cameras on its side, just the opposite of other 35mm cameras.

The "Rapid" designation means this camera is for use with Agfa Rapid film cartridges. In 1963 Kodak introduced the Instamatic system (type 126) mainly for, amongst other nifty features, easier film loading. For patent reasons, Agfa could not introduce a similar system so that took the system introduced with the Agfa Karat line of cameras, improved it in order to have the camera sense the film speed and sold it under the new "Rapid system" name. The film contained in the Rapid cartridges were of the standard 35mm format so that exsisting development and printing machines could be used. Maximum film length in the cartridges was 60 centimeters for approximately 30 exposures on the Yashica Half 17 EE. This opposed to 180 centimers for a 36 exposure 35mm filmstrip. As with Instamatic cameras, the Rapid format was actually meant to be square, in this case 24x24 millimeters. However the Yashica half frame used the material as it's 35mm half frame cousin, namely for the 18x24 mm format. The Agfa Silette Rapid used it as with full frame 35mm film, i.e. 36 x 24 mm.

When loading the cartridges in the camera, the new cartridge was put in, the camera back closed and the film wound onto the empty spool. The film would wind onto the empty spool by itself. When all negative material was used, the film was not wound back but the full (formerly empty) spool was taken out and the now empty spool placed in place of the take up spool. So there was no need to wind back the film, saving some time when changing films.

However, probably because of Kodak's global market presence, the Instamatic system became most popular and Agfa had to discontinue their Rapid system in the 1970s.

In line with the half-frame "Olympus Pen E" Series cameras, Yashica decided to also build a line of 35mm half frame cameras. The Half 17 EE Rapid is quite heavy for such a small camera. The exposure measuring selenium cell ("EE" for Electric Eye) around the lens enabled automatic exposure, which was fully automatic or aperture priority with automatic shutter speed. Placing the cell around the lens is actually a good idea for rangefinders since it will automatically take filterfactors into consideration when a filter is placed over the lens. When the camera is not in use, it's a good idea to place the lens cap over the lens in order to conserve the selenium cell, which otherwise may slowly get used up over time. The camera does not need a battery.

Who said that cameras designated for the low-end of the market could not be of high-quality and good looks? This camera is very sturdy and the chrome plate on top is just so smooth and beautiful that one could think this was a very expensive model at its time. The fun thing is that this camera is the same as the Yashica EZ-Matic but instead of 126 Instamatic film cartridges, it uses 35mm film in Rapid cartridges. Most parts however are shared with the Yashica EZ Matic, including the beautiful chrome top.

Controls are very basic, there is, just as with the EZ matic an automatic and aperture priority setting, a focus scale and that's about it. As compared to the EZ matic, because of the different film formats, the lens is different. Whereas the EZ has a Yashinon 1:2.7 f=37 mm lens, the Half 17 has a Yashinon 1:1.7 f=32 mm lens. The aperture and focus rings have also be swapped, the focus ring is at the front this time.

My camera is still like new, no scratches and all functions work as smoothly as when the camera left the factory. Because of the unavailability of Rapid film, I haven't actually tried using the camera but it feels and looks nice enough to keep it :o)

Overview of Yashica produced half-frame cameras
Information partly from SubClub

1961 Yashica Rapide Yashinon 2.8/28
1961 Yashica Rapide Yashinon 2.8/28
1962 Yashica Sequelle Yashinon 2.8/28
A vertical-style camera
1962 Yashica 72-E Yashinon 2.8/28
1963 Yashica Mimy Yashinon 2.8/28
1963 Yashica Mimy S Yashinon 2.8/28
1964 Yashica Yashica Half 17 Rapid EE Yashinon 1.7/32
1965 Yashica Half 17 3.2cm f1.7 Yashinon
1965 Yashica Half 17 Rapid 3.2cm f1.7 Yashinon
1/2-frame (Rapid Cassette) = 18 x 24 mm
196. Yashica Electro Half Yashinon 32mm f1.7
1/2-frame 35mm = 18 x 24 mm
Yashica Electro Half 6 transistor Yashinon 32mm f1.7
1966 Yashica Half 14 Yashinon 32mm f:1,4
1970 Yashica Half 17 DeLuxe 1/2-frame 35mm = 18 x 24 mm

The Samurai series of half frame cameras are vertical-style cameras with autofocus zoom lenses. They are battery operated using a CR5 cell.

1987 Yashica Samurai X3 AF-Zoom 35-105 / 3.5-4.3
1988 Yashica Samurai X4 AF-Zoom 25-100 / 3.8-4,8
1989 Yashica Samurai Z AF-Zoom 35-105 / 4.0-5.6
1989 Yashica Samurai ZL AF-Zoom 35-105 / 4.0-5.6 ("L" for Left-handed)
1990 Yashica Samurai Z2 AF-Zoom 25-70 / 3.4-4.3
1990 Yashica Samurai Z 2-L AF-Zoom 25-70 / 3.4-4.3 ("L" for Left-handed)

The reason for me to buy this camera was it's cool 1960 chrome look with the rounded edges. It's surprisingly heavy as it's made mainly from metal, which also makes the camera fairly sturdy. The Electric Eye Exposure meter cells around the lens make it look cool too.

Manufactured by  :  Yashica
Model  :  Yashica Half 17 Rapid
Type  :  view finder camera for rapid film
Produced  :  1965
K.D. Müller Reference  :  K 107046
Film  :  Rapid Film
Picture size  :  24 x 18 mm
Made in  :  Japan
Quantity Made  : 
Original List Price  : 
Material  :  Metal with partly plastic covering
Lens  :  Yashinon 1.7/3.2cm
Filter size  : 
Focusing  :  Manual scale settings in meters and feet (bottom scale)
Focus range  :  0.8 meter - infinity / 2.5 Feet - infinity
Viewfinder  :  view finder with parallax markings.
Exposure data and distance setting (1, 3 and 15 meters) blended in
Shutter  :  1/30-1/800 auto
Aperture  :  1.7 - 16
Self timer  :  yes
Exposure  :  automatic exposure (aperture priority) through selenium cell around the lens.
Exposure meter  :  selenium cell around the lens
Battery  :  none
Flash  :  cold shoe on top and pc sync connector
Flash Contact  :  standard flash cold shoe on top and pc sync connector on body left
Film Advance  :  thumb wheel at the bottom
Other  : 
Dimensions  :  120 x 60 x 70 cm (w x d x h)
Weight  : 
Body serial number  :  AME 5091158
Collection status  :  keeper
Yashica Half 17EE Rapid

links Yashica Half 17EE Rapid weblinks
links Manuals at Butkus
links Many Yashica manuals at Butkus.

links Yashica half format cameras at

Yashica Half 17EE Rapid

All photos copyright of M. Koning 1997 - 2009

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