other Yashica cameras in my collection:
Yashica Minister D [1964 - 1971*]
In the early 1960s, Yashica produced a considerable number of fixed lens rangefinder cameras, and the first Minister (with built-in light meter) came along in 1960. In 1962 it evolved into the Minister II with modest changes, and then in 1963 the Selenium meter cell was moved from the camera body to surround the lens, making the Minister III. The final version was the Minister D, in which the meter was replaced by a CdS cell.
In some ways it's a sophisticated rangefinder with an accessible calibrating screw in the middle of the back of the top plate. The viewfinder features a pink split-image rangefinder spot, and self-correcting parallax bright-line frame lines. It has a self-timer with a nominal 8 sec delay, and the shutter must be set at X synch to use this, regardless of whether you are using flash.
A battery-saving button with a red dot (located on the back of the camera to the users left), activates the exposure meter. It is the exposure system that truly defines this camera, and which revolves around a
Light Value setting procedure: essentially an EV system by another name (see my article The Exposure Value System (EVS) at Ezine Articles). Many other cameras of the time had LV/EV scales which registered the value of shutter/aperture combinations, but in this model, the aperture value is a product of shutter/LV/EV combinations. In other words ... it has no aperture setting dial.
It works like this. A shutter speed is set via a shutter speed ring. An LV number is read from the meter, and then manually transferred to the LV ring, which in turn sets the appropriate aperture. For example, say the camera is set to a speed of 1/125th at f/8 for an LV of 13 (at 100 ASA), and you wish to set a new LV.
- LV 14 produces settings of 1/125th at f/11,
- LV 15 produces settings of 1/125th at f/16, etc.
Adjustment of the shutter speed will synchronously change the aperture setting to maintain an LV. For example, say the camera is set to a speed of 1/125th at f/8 for an LV of 13 (at 100 ASA).
- Changing the shutter speed setting to 1/250th will adjust the aperture to f/5.6, and
- Changing the shutter speed setting to 1/500th will further adjust the aperture to f/4, etc.
The LV and shutter speed dials are synchronised, so that when a speed/aperture combination is outside of the camera's range, then the shutter speed also adjusts as the LVS ring is moved. For example, say the camera is set to :
- LV 15 settings of 1/125th at f/16.
- LV 16 changes the shutter speed to produce settings of 1/250th at f/16.
For the casual user, that's the end of the process. The LV system successfully simplifies two variables (shutter speed and aperture) into one. However, the camera allows further control for more experienced photographers, and this is where it is not so successful, since it complicates operation by forcing two variables to become three (shutter speed, aperture, and LV).
It is possible to preferentially start by selecting an aperture. This is accomplished adjusting either the shutter speed or LV dials (because both are synchronised to the aperture setting) to set a desired aperture, and then holding the shutter speed dial (which stops the aperture changing) while setting the LV value, which now selects the appropriate shutter speed for the required LV. Say the camera is set to LV 14, 1/125th, and f/11, but the light has dropped to LV 10, the subject has changed and I now want to shoot with the largest possible aperture.
- I can select f2.8 by changing the LV setting to 7,
- then by holding the shutter speed ring, adjust the LV to 10, which in turn sets a shutter speed of 1/125th.
The exposure setting system is biased towards shutter speed priority, because its operation favours this approach. None of the dials are click-stopped, so it's possible to set any intermediate values. It's not feasible to identify (through observation alone) how the camera responds to intermediate values, and the user manual says nothing about intermediate settings. In fact, the manual is clinical and comprises a set of simple - press this, turn that - instructions. It makes none of the usual brags about how wonderful the product is. I suspect that intermediate aperture settings may well be used, but it's unlikely the shutter speeds with do anything other than conform to a set of mechanically governed steps.
*According to a 1971/2 photographic equipment catalogue published by Hastings based retailers
Gifford Boyd, the Minister D was still in production that year, and had a price of £42.49.
Viewfinder: A split image rangefinder self corrects for parallax. Image about 2/3rds of natural size.
Focus: Coupled rangefinder with manual ring on lens barrel.
Lens: Yashinon 45mm f/2.8. Believed to be 5 elements in four groups.
Close Focus: 2.6' (0.8m).
Diaphragm: Five blade, stopping down to f/16.
Shutter: B, 1, 1/2nd, 1/4th, 1/8th, 1/15th, 1/30th, 1/60th, 1/125th, 1/250th, and 1/500th. The shutter can be set at M or X synch. Copal-SVL five-blade leaf shutter.
Cable Release: Standard socket in shutter release button.
Meter: Uncoupled CdS. Meter needle shows recommended EV number.
Exposure: Manual by adjustment of aperture and shutter speed settings to replicate EV (or LV) number on separate lens ring scale.
Exposure range: EV 3 to EV 17.
Film Speed: From ASA 10 - 400.
Filter Size: 46mm screw in.
Flash: Cold shoe and PC terminal. M and X sync.
Film Advance: Short stroke lever.
Frame Counter: Count-up with automatic advance and reset.
Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.
Back Opening: Sliding lever on the left side of the base from "P" to "O", and while in the "O" position, pressing inward opens the film door.
Size: 136 x 85 x 74mm (W x H x D).
Battery: Originally 1.35v mercury button cell (use the equivalent WeinCELL MRB625 zinc air cell).
I paid £4.00 for this camera in December 2013.
I bought the
D because it appeared to be the most sophisticated of the Minister series. I really wanted an Electro 35 type model, but they have become (or should that be
remained?) pretty iconic, and are relatively expensive (and I blame that Peter Parker - Spiderman bloke!). The truth is, the Minister bears very little operational similarity to the Electro 35s.
My camera is in good condition, and is nicely made; the fit and finish are excellent. The shutter release button is a bit slow to return to its ready position, but that doesn't matter because the Minister D is not a model that temps me to use it.
I admire the mechanics and ingenuity of this camera, but operationally, I detest it. Using those synchronised dials is like herding cats. It reminds me of an Orrery, where you twiddle a dial and the moon rotates around the earth as the earth rotates around the sun. I think Orreries are totally cool, but it's just annoying on a camera when you move one dial to find all the others have adopted a new setting.
And ... here's another slightly weird thing I don't like about it; its name. I'm sure Minister was selected on the basis of the meaning
some sort of leader, but I associate the name with religion; not that I've got anything against religion (in fact, one of my main work clients prior to retirement was the Church of England), but it's not my thing. Neither would I be drawn to a camera called Deacon, Priest, Rector, or Vicar (and so far as I know, these names have never been used - except for the DeJur Dekon-SR)!