Yashica FX-103 Program SLR

The Yashica FX-103 Program. This is my first ever camera.

It was a gift from my mother in 1988 for graduating university. She instructed my elder brother to purchase a camera and he purchased it from a camera shop in Malacca, Malaysia. I was ecstatic with the gift but I had no idea how it operated except to know that one needed to press the shutter button to take a photo.

My only previous experience with cameras was with an idiot proof point and shoot Kodak VR35 camera which I used to take photos on a trip to the picturesque South Island of New Zealand! 😩

A plastic Kodak VR 35 idiot camera

Back to the Yashica FX-103 Program. It is a 35mm SLR camera from Kyocera. It was available in the mid 1980’s and was one of those new electronic SLR cameras that had an electromagnetic shutter with programmed exposure modes. The electronics required two LR44/SR44 batteries to operate. Obviously when the batteries died, the shutter would not operate and the mirror flips to mid-point and froze. Reading the manual, I learnt how to operate it and bought books and photo magazines to improve my photography with it. In a short period of time I reached a comfortable level of competence using it.

Kyocera badge on the FX-103

The camera was light and easy to hand-hold and carry. The grip on the camera had a groove in the front where you could comfortably rest your middle finger to grip the camera body with the index finger on the shutter. It came with the standard Yashica ML 50mm f1.9 lens.

After several months and much reading, I felt I needed more focal lengths to expand the photographic point of view. At that time I was living in Sydney, Australia. George Street in the city was where the multitude of photography/camera shops were. I wanted wide and telephoto zooms ( I didn’t know better then). At Fletcher’s Fotographics, I was served by a lady salesperson who introduced me to the Tamron 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 and 70-210mm f/3.8-4.0 Adaptall lenses. She told me that they could be used with any other brand of cameras just by changing the mount adapter. I was sold by the price – at A$285 each at that time – and the fact that I could use it in other brands of SLR cameras with the correct Adaptall adapter.

The Tamron 28-70mm f3.5/4.5 zoom lens with a Nikon adaptall adapter
Push-pull Tamron 70-210mm f3.8-4 zoom

The Yashica FX-103 and Tamron lenses served me well for about a year and a half before I was afflicted by the Gear Acquisition Syndrome, reading photo magazines that extolled the virtues of the Nikon system especially those of the FM2 and F3 cameras (those cameras in future blogs).

Eventually I sold the FX-103 along with a very nice Yashica ML 21mm f3.5 prime lens 😩 (which is now a sought after item because of its great optics and low distortion) that I had acquired in a used condition a few months after buying the Tamrons.

The Yashica ML 21mm f3.5 – a heavy well balanced prime lens
Botany Bay, Sydney 1988, taken with a Yashica ML 21mm f3.5 lens mounted on the Yashica FX-103 Program SLR

The Yashica FX-103 will always be my first SLR. A special camera for me but unfortunately I no longer have the original one. A couple of years back, I was able to purchase 2 of these for about $30 each.

These had flaky leatherette as was inevitable for these cameras since Yashica used a cheap felt material for the camera leatherettes.

The Yashica FX-103 with it’s old original flaky leatherette (front)
FX-103 leatherette in bad condition (back)

Recently, I refurbished the leatherette for both these Yashicas. Now they look great! I now have my first SLR back with new skins!
Leatherette purchased from Aki-Asahi Camera Coverings 😃

The FX-103 with a new black leatherette from Aki-Asahi.com
FX-103 with a nice faux red snake-skin leatherette

2 thoughts on “Yashica FX-103 Program SLR

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