Yashica FR II – the camera that made me buy the Canon F-1

Time for another look at this underappreciated Yashica.

Chasing Classic Cameras with Chris

I know – the FR II and the F-1 are miles apart in features (and price). I purchased my first Yashica, a TL Electro-X in 1971 and used it faithfully through much of the 1970s. Being a young (and married) US Navy Sailor and money deprived, the TL suited me just fine – until I was transferred to Japan in 1977. If you were ever stationed in Yokosuka then you know what Building A33 means. It was the Navy Exchange camera and stereo heaven!!! Reps from all of the major camera manufacturers were present and demonstrated their latest gear to the now cash flush Sailors. Upstairs was a branch of Navy Federal Credit Union… if you couldn’t afford it, finance it! Pure bliss.

I’m so easily distracted.

So it was time for me to upgrade my trusty TL Electro-X, so naturally I looked at what Yashica had to offer. The…

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Battery Burner – Canon’s Massive Motor

When you chase down something for over forty years the payoff should be special – it was! It’s not like these beasts are rare, if I had had a few more bucks in my pocket back in 1978 I could have purchased it for around $400 at the Navy Exchange in Yokosuka along with my F-1. But being an underpaid and over-deployed Sailor there’s only so much money to throw at cameras when there were hi-end stereos still to buy. ^.^

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No one I knew at the time (including myself) needed one of these – they were meant for professional photographers and I was certainly not that. But how could a 25-year-old “camera bug” not want it? Just look at it! Crazy big but powerful and that sound it made when burning through film at 3.5 fps – wow! The F-1 was already a monster to lug around and this bit of motorized mayhem would add over 2 pounds to an already strained neck.

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Yum-yum, eat ’em up!

So after 40 years I broke down and bought my Canon Motor Drive MF on eBay from a large camera retailer on the West Coast. I believe I got it at a great price – $60 plus shipping for a fully working and in nearly mint condition. I’m very happy with it and yes, it’s still a ridiculous piece of camera hardware but it harkens back to another time and place in photography and that makes it worth it.

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It’s almost as big as the camera itself!

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A gentle reminder that when in the continuous mode that the shutter speed range is from a low of 1/60 to a max of 1/2000. Single frame allows shooting down to 1 second.

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It looks great on my original F-1 from 1978 and it’s a fun reminder of those heady days back in Japan when I wanted anything that could be attached to the F-1. After 40 years it just feels right! Merry Christmas to me.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

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