Chasing a Classic from Yashica – Yashica Flex AS-II

I first spotted this lovely camera on Etsy way back in November 2020. At that time the seller was in a bit of a funk and we couldn’t put a deal together. Now after four short months of watching it sit I made an offer and they accepted. Yeah! Chasing classic cameras is as much of a hunt as it is a waiting game.

This TLR was made by Yashima Kogaku Seiki Company, Ltd. (later Yashica) around November 1954 based on its early serial number.

The selenium cells are located behind the nameplate flap.
Flap in the open position. The cells inside sent a small electric current to the built-in exposure which is mounted on the left side of the camera.
A close-up view of the exposure meter which was made by Sekonic (Seiko Electric Instruments Industry, Company).
The lens on the bottom is called the taking lens and the one on top is the viewing lens. Both lenses were made by Tomioka Optical for Yashima. The shutter was made by Copal and as I mentioned earlier, the exposure meter was made by Sekonic.
A view inside the film chamber shows the serial number – No.31147. The serial number in the first edition of the user’s guide is 30126 and another AS-II that I own is 30302. BTW, there was a roll of unexposed Kodak film inside as a nice bonus.
My first and earliest AS-II showing the lowest serial number found in the wild. Take notice of the “Made in Japan”.

If you would like to know more about Yashica’s earliest days then my good friend Paul Sokk’s site is the place you want to go – you can find Paul’s site at http://www.yashicatlr.com

Back to the chase. I wanted this AS-II but the seller didn’t offer much information about its overall condition or whether it even worked. It was listed with the complete contents of an old leather camera case so there were lots of goodies inside along with the camera. Sometimes you’ve got to follow your instincts and go for it. A lack of info can add some excitement to the chase! The camera also had it’s original case which was sort of welded to the camera. The case even left some of its green crud behind as you may be able to see on the exposure meter housing.

Bonus! A roll of unexposed Kodak Verichrome Pan (VP-120) film inside.

Comments are always welcomed as I’ve learned quite a bit from reader feedback. As always, thanks for stopping by and while you’re at it, feel free to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com (CC Design Studios hosted by Etsy). – Chris Whelan

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Yashica Flex AS-II by Yashima Optical

One of the original group of 6 cameras that Yashica (Yashima Optical Industries Company, Ltd.) made in the early to mid 1950s. This AS-II was introduced in 1954 and featured a built-in (well, attached) light meter. They’re solid cameras these early Yashica TLRs, and in our opinion, had some underrated features as well as great lenses. The light meter was made by Sekonic by the way.

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Yashica Flex AS-II with built-in light meter (just visible on the camera’s left side). The light meter’s cells were located under the nameplate and were exposed by lifting up the nameplate flap.

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The AS-II featured Yashimar lenses that were made by Tomioka Optical for Yashica. A Copal shutter with a blazing fast 1/200 top speed!

If you’re in the market for a vintage Yashica TLR then the AS-II should be on your list. Be advised that most will not have a working light meter – if you get one with one it’s a bonus. They are a bit hard to find – 63 year old cameras don’t often look this good or work perfectly. We were lucky as we were able to purchase this one from a collector in the US for a reasonable price.

Taken on the US Post Office steps in downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida. The post office dates to 1911.

Camera: Samsung Galaxy S4

Chris