Some products make you wonder why they exist, or what did the designer have in mind while product conceived. The Olympus Samurai series cameras are well near to the top of the list. In the mid 80’s several Japanese camera manufacturers, namely Olympus, Ricoh, Chinon, Fuji, Yashica and Nikon presented series of cross-breed ‘mule’ cameras, neither conventional SLR nor point and shoot. Guess the idea was to combine the point and shoot simplicity with the SLR power, however, the result was lacklustre. I have no sales numbers of the ‘bridge’ cameras, but the target market would have been rather limited. For using a point and shoot mode these cameras were too bulky and expensive, and for the photography enthusiast, they were very limited. Fixed lens and no manual settings. Of all people, I know only one I had ever seen with such a camera. I know it is not a scientific model, but it sheds light on its popularity or lack thereof. The fact that in the early ’90s film photography was heading over the cliff did not help either. Today, with digital photography, such cameras are again available, perhaps for buyers looking to look smart on the cheap.
I only possess a Yashica, actually Kyocera, Samurai X3.0. As much as I try, I cannot find a warm spot for it, even to just like it a little.
It is not a pretty thing. Symmetrical objects agree with our aesthetic taste buds. It looks as if it has been assembled of parts from surplus bins at several plants, not necessarily optical. Each side casts a different shadow, it could have never been made without CAD – a mere human could have not connected all sides together.
I have no manual, so the lens values are a mystery. Not sure why nothing is marked there.
Shooting Is a drama. First, you need a green giant’s hand to hold it. I wear large size gloves and yet struggle to hold it with the right hand without the support of the left one. Cannot see a way to attach a strap that would greatly assist. There is an optional grip that hooks to the battery screw (I assume), but it adds much bulk to the already bulky body. Then, once you press the focusing/shutter button, it recoils, shakes and rattles as you would expect of Dirty Harry’s ‘make my day’ gun. I wonder how anything can be captured once the camera swirls in your hand. Shooting with it is as bad as firing an M72 LAW shoulder-mounted rocket. Same grip and the same racket once pressing the trigger. At second thought, my dislike of this camera could stem from memories associated with the time I was trained with the LAWs. Left-hand camera versions were available as the Z-L and the Z2-L models.
Loading film is a breeze, assume is common with all cameras of this era.
A button cell battery, the auxiliary one, is planted within the body. Accessible under a body panel, it takes gentle dismantling to replace.
As the exemplar I have works, I didn’t delve into its mechanics. Should I had to, am not sure how far I could go as mechanical parts are controlled by electronics. I could recognize the business end of a screwdriver but absolutely helpless with electronics.
Update – a later article about the same by Casual Photophile.
Yashica Kyocera Samurai current prices
Samurai 400 ix value
Samurai 4000 ix value
Samurai value X3.0 value
Samurai X3.0 Transparent value
Samurai X4.0 value
Samurai Z AF-Zoom value
Samurai Z2 F-Zoom value
Samurai Z2 transparent value
Samurai Z2-L F-Zoom value
Data battery location under the camera controls.
M72 / LAW rocket hand control.