Yashica Y-16


Like many Yashica cameras, the Y-16 was jam-packed with convenience features but overshadowed by other cameras from other companies.  It's hard to believe, but it first appeared in 1959.  It has a 25mm (f3.5-16) fixed-focus lens like a lot of 16mm cameras. A few sources cite an f2.8 version, as well.  The image size was the typical 10x14mm. But that's all that was typical about the camera.  It is a high-quality, attractive, well-designed submini with several innovative features.  Rotating dials (on the bottom of the camera) adjust the f-stop and shutter speed with easy readouts on the top of the camera.  Shutter speeds of S (that's "S", not "B") plus 1/25 - 1/200. The "S" shutter speed is a unique and flexible feature and operates like a T setting -- sort of.  When the shutter is set on "S", press the shutter release halfway and the shutter opens. Continue to press it all the way and the shutter closes.  With this feature, you can vary the shutter speed from about 1/8 of a second to as long as you want. For a short speed, such as 1/4, press the shutter release until it opens and immediately press it all the way to close it.  For longer speeds, press the shutter release halfway until it opens and then let go!.  The shutter says open until you come back and press the shutter all the way.  LONG exposures are a breeze.  I wish other camera manufacturers had adopted this feature.  "B" and "T" are nice, but why not "S"?  With "B", you have to hold the shutter open, and with "T" you have to press the release twice.  "S" gives you the best of both.  In addition, the film for the Y-16 was in special cassettes which popped into the camera like a gun cartridge. Yashica called it "clip-load".  These cassettes had 24 exposures on them and made film loading and unloading very fast -- no need to open a door or even a latch.  In fact, the cassettes can be switched mid-roll (with the loss of only one frame) dramatically increasing the usefulness of the camera. The film was advanced by twisting the camera between two fingers which were held on the "advance" knob -- the same approach used on the Fuji Mini half-frame. This allowed for rapid-fire shooting.  The camera was light grey with several colors available on the front panel that are just as hard to describe as when they first appeared on the market: purple/burgundy, bronze/gold, blue, grey, or aqua/teal.  There was even an all-black body available.  Yashica made several clip-on filters: UV, Y2 (yellow), O2 (orange), 1A, 82A, 81B and 80A. The filters hold on to the front of the camera with a little "clothes pin" -- very unusual.  They also made a full line of accessories, such as a film loader, a flash gun, electronic flash holder, a developing tank, a slide viewer and a slide projector.  The Y16 was strictly a manual camera with no meter.  The desired aperture and shutter speed were dialed in and the picture was taken. The fixed point of focus on the Y16 focus was at 8 feet, so that at f3.5 the near point is about 6.5 feet and the far point is 10.75 feet.  Stopped down to f16, the closest point is 4 feet and the far point is infinity.  The camera also had a built-in cable release socket, PC contact for flash, and a tripod socket -- nice touchs.  This was Yashica's first venture into the submini world and a real quality shooter.  Unfortunately it was overlooked by most subbers -- then and now .  It failed to sell for a variety of reasons -- the cassette was relatively expensive, not easy to find, not too easy to re-load (see the DARKROOM for details), and limited in film selection.  Finding a place to process the film was another obstacle.  After the failure of the Y16, Yashica opted to try a camera using the popular Minolta cassette (see the Yashica 16EE).  

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