Yashica introduced the model 44 in 1958 as Japan's first 4x4 TLR.. The camera was offered in several color options, but the gray version (no doubt inspired by the gray Baby Rolleiflex of 1957) proved to be the most popular.
The Yashica 44 features crank film advance, with automatic frame spacing after the user aligns frame number "1" in a red window. The shutter is cocked manually with a lever on the shutter itself, however, and there is no interlock to prevent double-exposures. The Copal SV shutter has speeds from 1 to 1/500 second plus 'B', and switchable 'M' and 'X' synchronisation, with a PC socket. The lens is a 3-element Yashikor 60mm f/3.5. There is a standard bayonet mount for lens attachments; a hood, filters and close-up lens pairs were available. A metal lens-cap, hinged in the middle, attaches to the upper bayonet.
| Grey 44A|
image by Vagn Sloth-Madsen (Image rights)
| Blue Yashica 44A;|
note different nameplate
image by Билл (Image rights)
The original 44 sold at a price higher than a Yashica D 6x6 TLR with comparable specifications. Yashica subsequently introduced a more basic 4x4 model, the 44A. This is distinguished from the original 44 by using knob wind and a red window to advance the film, and only a Copal shutter offering speeds from 1/25 to 1/300 second, plus 'B'.
The 44A model also dropped the bayonet filter attachment of the 44. The Yashica 44A is not identified as such on the nameplate, but can be visually identified by a row of short "teeth" extending below it; also by the straight-sided shape of the front bodywork surrounding the viewing lens, compared to the waisted shape of that around the lenses of the 44. The 44A was offered in 1959 at a list price of USD $29.95, roughly half the price of the 44.
The 44 LM is a more elaborate version of the 44, with a selenium-cell light meter and a greatly-restyled appearance to the camera. It has the Copal-SV shutter of the 44, and the bayonet for lens attachments. Whereas on the other two models, the shutter speed and aperture are set with controls at the rim of the shutter unit, The 44LM has small knurled thumb-wheel for each (the shutter speed control is the right-hand wheel) with the setting shown in a window at the top (visible and adjustable with the camera in the normal photographing position). The 44 LM has knob wind, but with automatic frame spacing (again, once frame 1 is set with the red window). Yashica also upgraded the lens to a 4-element Tessar-type 60mm f/3.5 Yashinon. There is a dial to interpret the meter reading in the face of the film advance knob. A variant of this model may have appeared in some markets under the name Yashica Auto 44.
| Side views 44LM|
images by Vagn Sloth-Madsen (Image rights)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). The 4x4 Primo Jr. by Tōkyō Kōgaku may have been available slightly earlier.
- ↑ Modern Photography (USA) Volume 23, No. 9, September 1959. "Small size, small price, big value" (advertisement) pg. 6.
- Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Items 1704–6.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P. 98.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P. 1024.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Items 2303–6.
- How to successfully convert Yashica 44 to 35mm film by Hans Marvell at Flickr including example shots
- Yashica 44 LM at photoethnography.com
- Yashica 44 and Yashica 44A at 127 cameras
- Yashica 44 and Yashica 44-LM at www.collection-appareils.fr
- Yashica-44, 44A and 44LM among 4×4 TLR cameras at Dirapon's website
- Yashica-44 and Yashica-44LM in a page about TLRs at Ove Karlsson's camera collection
- Yashica-44A in a page about TLRs at Fotomuseet i Osby