Yashica Half 17 Rapid

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The Half 17 Rapid is a 35 mm half-frame viewfinder camera made by Yashica in about 1965. It is an adaptation of the earlier Half 17 to use Agfa's Rapid film cassettes instead of regular 135 cassettes.

The camera is very similar to the Half 17. However, since Rapid film is wound from one cassette to a second, the camera does not have a rewind crank. Also, a metal tab on the Rapid cassette signals the film speed to the camera, so there is no film speed dial on the top plate. The camera is very slightly larger and heavier than the regular Half 17.

Like the Half 17, the camera has a selenium light meter, with the photovoltaic cell in a ring around the lens, as on many popular cameras of the time (so that the cell automatically allows for any filter fitted to the lens). However, whereas the Half 17 has completely programmed automatic exposure, the Half 17 Rapid has a match-needle system; The aperture ring has two scales:

  • fixed apertures from f/1.7 to f/16, for use with flash; when these are selected, the shutter speed is set to 1/30 second;
  • EV values from 6.5 to 17; these are used with a match-needle meter in the viewfinder for metered exposure, following the same program as the Half 17, between 1/30 second at f/1.7 and 1/800 second at f/13.[1] The metered shutter speed is not shown in the viewfinder, however, as it is on the Half 17.
  • Between the two scales is a setting for 'B' shutter (which sets f/1.7).

The match-needle process seems clumsy in comparison to the fully-programmed exposure system of the 135-film model; however, it does allow a limited form of manual exposure control (since any EV can be manually set), though restricted to the program combinations of shutter speed and aperture.

Other features are like the Half 17. The lens is a six-element 32 mm f/1.7 Yashinon, with scale focusing down to about 0.8 metre. The shutter is synchronised for flash, with a PC socket on the left end of the top housing, and a cold shoe on the top. The film advance is the same toothed wheel, positioned for the left thumb.

The Half 17 EE Rapid is similar, but has programmed exposure without the match-needle system, like the original Half 17, and the same simple aperture ring.


Notes

  1. 1/800 second at f/13 is approximately EV 17, but clearly the lens can stop down to f/16; it seems likley that the match-needle EV scale can actually be turned to EV 17.5 (1/800 second at f/16).