Classic Fixed Lens Rangefinders:

Yashica RF history: Lynx 1000 - 5000 - 14 - 14e; Electro 35 - G - GS/GT - GSN/GTN; Electro GL - GX - MG1

Yashica MG-1

by Karen Nakamura

Overview and Personal Comments

The Yashica MG-1 is a small coupled-rangefinder, leaf-shuttered 35mm camera with aperture-priority automatic exposure. Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.

Developed in 1975, the MG-1 was produced at the same time as the Electro GX. The GX and MG-1 were the last prosumer rangefinders that Yashica made before descending into cheapo point-and-shoot hell. I have the feeling the MG-1 was designed as a less expensive, smaller-aperture option to the GX. The MG-1 has a 45mm f/2.8 Yashinon lens instead of the 40mm f/1.7 found in the GX.

Like the GX, the CdS metering cell is contained in the lens mount. Yashica called this system "Top-Eye" and it had the advantage of taking into account any filters you might use and it warns you if you leave the lens cap on.

Like the GX, the MG-1 only takes up to ASA 800 film. Why design a great low-light camera and not have it compatible with ASA 3200 film such as Kodak's TMax P3200? Argh!

In comparison with the GX which has an unshielded 40mm lens that flares badly, the MG-1 has a deeply recessed lens that appears to be quite flare resistant.

The MG-1 was released in 1975 by Yashica and was made until 19xx. The serial number of my body is #70417648 and it was made in Hong Kong. The lens is a Yashinon 1:2.8 f=45mm lens made in Japan. It retailed in 1975 for ¥xx,000. The exchange rate was approx ¥292/US$1in 1975 so that comes out to US$xxx. Taking inflation into account with the AIER calculator, that's $xxxx in 2002 dollars. By the end of the model run in 1980, the yen-dollar rate had plummeted to about ¥200/$ but inflation in the U.S. intervened which made it $xxx in 1980, or $xxx in 2002 dollars.


Interesting quirks

The Copal shutter is entirely stepless from 1/500 to 4 seconds. It's not TTL metering but ATL (above the lens) - the CdS cell is located on right above the lens on the lens mount (Yashic called this "Top-Eye"), so it does a great job. Because the CdS cell is right above the lens, you can use filters (including polarizing, etc.) without having to make filter corrections like on its older brother, the GSN. The Copal shutter goes up to 30 seconds automatically. It's too bad they removed the 'B' bulb setting from the GSN though.There is an "Auto/Flash" switch on the top of the camera body for switching to flash sync speeds. This isn't really necessary since the meter syncs at all speeds. But in a dark space in Auto mode, the camera might set a shutter speed of 2 seconds, which you most probably don't want.

The rangefinder is fully coupled (i.e., focusing the rangefinder focuses the lens) but lacks built-in parallax compensation. Instead, there are parallax correction marks in the viewfinder.

Like the larger Electro series, the MG-1 takes one 5.6v PX32 mercury battery, unfortunately these have been discontinued as have their PX32A alkaline counterparts. Fortunately, you can use a 6v PX28A alkaline battery which is readily available at any Walgreens or Radio Shack. The smaller PX28As last about a year of heavy use in my experience.

To the right, you can see the size difference between the PX28 and PX32. The spring that makes up the difference can be bought at any hardware store. I wrap the PX28 in a small cardboard tube (cut from a cereal box) to make up the diameter difference, put the PX28 in the camera, then follow with the spring to make up the difference in length. The camera handles the slight difference in voltage. More details are at Matt Denton's page.

Surprisingly, my MG-1 came with a mercury PX-32 battery which is still alive! The camera apparently didn't get much use, and these batteries store very well.



Technical Details

Camera Name MG-1
Manufacturer Yashica
Place of Manufacture

Body: Hong Kong
Lens: Japan

Date of Manufacture 1975.12 ~ 19xx.x
Focusing System

Fully coupled rangefinder (0.59x magnification)
Lens use helical focusing

Fixed Lens

45mm (AoV xx °), f/2.8, Yashinon lens (4 elements in 3 groups)

Minimum focusing distance = 1 meters (~3.2 feet)
Right focusing (infinity on right side)

55mm screw-in filters;57mm slip on cap


Copal shutter 4 secs - 1/500

X-flash sync at all speeds
"Flash" setting sets 1/100 second

8 sec. self-timer on lens mount

Metering System

CdS cell mounted above lens
Aperture priority electronic exposure

Lights on top of camera / rangefinder warn of under/over exposure conditions

EV 2 - 17 (at ISO 100)


f/2.8 - f/16


External hot-shoe and PC cable connection.
Flash hotshoe has additional connection for dedicated Yashica ES-20 unit, which provides for automatic flash exposure.

Film type / speeds

Type 135 film (35mm standard)

ASA 25 to 800

Battery type

1 x 5.6v PX32 mercury cells
( compatible with PX28A alkaline)

Dimensions and weight 141 x 72 x 82 mm; 620 grams
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About Yashica/Kyocera/Contax

The Yashica Corporation began making cameras in 1957, releasing its first model in 1958 (the Yashica 35). They produced a very well regarded series of twin-lens-reflex (TLR) medium format cameras under the Yashica-Mat brand and 35mm rangefinders under the Yashica Electro name. Yashica became a subsidiary of the Kyocera Corporation in October of 1983. For the next two decades, Kyocera continued to produce film cameras under the Contax marquee, including a very nice 35mm Contax SLR series (which used Zeiss lenses), a medium format system, and the Contax G1/G2 rangefinders (also with Zeiss glass).The Yashica name was only used for a small series of dental cameras and point and shoots. In March of 2005, Kyocera announced that it would cease production and sales of film and digital cameras under the Contax marquee. Thus ends 30 years of a wonderful camera line. The Contax name will most probably revert back to the Zeiss foundation, thus who knows what will happen in the future. Right now, the name "Yashica" appears to have been bought by a Chinese company for their inexpensive digital cameras.

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