Featured Camera: The Yashica Samurai

The Yashica Samurai is an iconic half-frame camera that has a unique design and is one of my favourite cameras to use. I have used this camera a lot and I have a lot of experience of using it in different settings. This article shows some of the results you can get with this camera and the features that make it great.

Person using the Yashica Samurai half-frame 35mm point and shoot camera

What is the Yashica Samurai?

The Yashica Samurai is a half-frame 35mm film camera with a unique hand grip. It was introduced in 1987 and abandoned ideas of what a still camera could look like, opting to incorporate design from the camcorders that were becoming popular at the time. 

What is a half-frame camera?

A half-frame camera is a camera that takes two smaller frames on one normal sized frame of 35mm film. You take images in the same way as a normal 35mm film camera, however when you develop the roll, you will have two frames side by side. You can read more about half-frame cameras here. Here is a diagram that explains the size of half-frames.

diagram showing the size of half-frame images

What features does the Yashica Samurai have?

The thing that makes the Yashica Samurai so compelling is its design and user interface. I personally love using this camera, and my friends and family love using it too. The grip is super easy to hold and allows you to access the zoom and shutter buttons easily.

Here are some of the features the Yashica Samurai has:

  • Zoom lens from 25mm to 75mm 
  • Automatic shutter speed and aperture settings
  • Built-in flash with flash modes available
  • Date back with current dates available
  • Sequence shooting, so you can take multiple images with one press of the shutter button
Person using the Yashica Samurai with the beach in the background

Using the Yashica Samurai

"This camera is one of my absolute favourites and it has been on almost every trip with me."

I have tonnes of experience using the Yashica Samurai as I have taken it on almost every trip since I got it two years ago. Throughout this article, there are lots of images taken with the Yashica Samurai in different settings.

The way that you hold the camera means that your photographs are landscape in orientation, so to get portrait frames, you need to hold the camera on its side in order to get portrait orientated frames.

View of cathedral and flowers taken with the Yashica Samurai

How does the Yashica Samurai focus?

The Yashica Samurai autofocus has its pros and cons. It can be slow to focus as the lens moves in and out trying to find the focus point. It generally only struggles in low-light situations. 

To focus the Yashica Samurai, you half-press the shutter button and can hear the camera finding the focus point.

On the other hand, I have been blown away by how sharp and accurate the focus has been. When focusing in daylight, the camera performs really well and focuses in just a few seconds. The camera has never missed a focus point for me, making it my go-to choice for trips and everyday shooting.

Soho London street taken with the Yashica Samurai using Kodak Colorplus
View of rooves of houses taken on the Yashica Samurai using Kodak Colorplus

Which film did I use?

Despite being a half-frame camera, the Yashica Samurai uses standard rolls of 35mm film and does not require any special developing.

I have used the Yashica Samurai a lot and it performs well with any roll of film you use. Most of the images in this article were taken using the Kodak Colorplus film stock as it has good results across all subjects and is an affordable roll of film to use. 

The camera is DX coded, which means your roll of film should have a DX code. Almost all rolls of film have a DX code unless your roll of film has been bulk loaded into a generic film canister that does not have the original details on it.

You can use black and white film in the Yashica Samurai too, as well as colour film. 

My final thoughts on the Yashica Samurai

Every time I use this camera, it still impresses me. Whether it is taking portraits or landscapes, the focus is always spot-on, the exposure is correct and the images appear high quality. 

The camera is so fun and easy to use. It is a great camera to hand to someone who knows nothing about using a film camera, which makes it a great option for travelling and making sure you get photographs of yourself on trips.

Still not sure if this camera is right for you? Take our camera quiz here. Or read more about other half-frame cameras here.

If this article helped you, please consider buying me a coffee, so that I can keep creating content for photographers like yourself.

Max, owner of Cameras By Max

Article written by: Max

Max is the owner of Cameras By Max. They work full-time repairing and refurbishing all the 35mm film cameras you see on the website. Their favourite camera (at the moment) is the Olympus XA, and their favourite city in the world is Edinburgh.


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