I remember those words even now, so many years after they were uttered by my one-time employer!
I used to be involved in the very early days of my career, with aircraft metals, especially looking at returns from the field, when faulty items were sent back to us for diagnosis and improvement suggestions.
That one time, I was charged with checking out hydraulic piping that carries…wait for it….oil…to the various parts of the airplane, like the landing gear and wing flaps etc.
These pipes had failed in use, and the first thing to be done was to have them cleaned gently to remove traces of oil, which was done by the boys in the mechanical workshops.
Once clean of oil, the pipes were sent down to me, where a set of tests, photographs and measurements were done. The lab I worked in had 3 cameras….one was a Polaroid SX70, an old Leica IIIf and a Yashica Electro 35GTN.
Needless to say, it was very rare to get your hands on the Leica, for everyone and his aunty were always coming over to borrow it…for very serious work-related tasks of course…;)
Most times, it was either the Yashica or the Polaroid that got used for my work, but I did produce some very nice shots with the Leica at times as well.
Anyway, back to the pipes….aside of the tests and measurements, I’d noticed minute fissures along the parts where the pipes had been bent during manufacture, so that the mating faces would connect properly to the hydraulic connectors etc. So it was most likely that metal fatigue was the cause of failure. Whatever the case, photographic evidence of was of prime importance, so looking around me, I found the Polaroid and Yashica cameras available.
It wasn’t possible to take close up shots with either of these cameras…that would have to wait for the Leica and it’s close up lenses. However, what was also needed were shots of the pipes in-situ on the aircraft itself. I took a few shots with the Polaroid but they lacked definition, so I tried the Yashica, taking several shots at different angles.
The film was sent to our in-house darkroom for immediate processing and the results were on my desk within an hour!
All the photos came out perfectly, sharp and correctly exposed. I had to produce these in a meeting later that day and give a presentation of what I’d found. Cut a long story short, after the meeting, the director of the company came over to me and commended my work and the photos I’d taken, asking whether it was the Leica I’d used.
I wish I’d taken a shot of the look on his face when I told him it was from the Yashica!
My point here is that these cameras have been used where lives are at risk if the wrong results are reported, so if an aircraft company can use them for it’s work, in my mind that says a lot about the trust placed in the cameras.
Not only that…heck, even Spiderman has one:
Seriously though, the Yashica Electro is one excellent camera, and without doubt, the combination of that fabulous f1.7 45mm lens, put together in 4 groups of 6 elements, just like in any top slr of the time…and that silky step less shutter….much quieter than the clunky one in the Leica.
And the viewfinder is bright, large and clear…again, sorry to be battering them, but it’s clearer than the one on the Leica, hands down.
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and this camera pleases everyone. The 45mm lens is almost exactly what is required for a 35mm film, ie a 45mm lens gives a focal length equal to the film diagonal, which in this case is 43.2mm, just two millimeters or so away from the ideal. However, in spite of this, the major manufacturers still insisted on supplying 50mm lenses as standard on their slr cameras……weird!
How sharp are the photos though? Well, most people will not be able to fault sharpness from the Yashica, unless they are going to make prints several feet wide…I’m serious.
All in all, a stupendously fab camera, and available for a song! Try one..you’ll be very surprised indeed, I guarantee it!