Kyocera, originally a ceramics manufacturer, was founded in 1959 as Kyoto Ceramic Co. Ltd. (京都セラミツク株式会社). It changed its name to Kyocera (京セラ株式会社) in 1982, and became involved in camera production in October 1983, when it acquired Yashica Company Ltd. Initially, the company continued to produce evolutionary camera designs under the Yashica and Contax brands, such as the Yashica FX-3 and Contax 159MM. The manual-focus (MF) FX-103 Program, introduced in 1985, continued the ‘pairing’ tradition of Yashica SLR models with those of Contax (Contax 159mm), and featured TTL flash and full programmed exposure capabilities. Both brands continued to feature the same C/Y bayonet lens mount, allowing owners of less expensive Yashica cameras to use all of the Yashica / Contax lenses, including the premium Contax Zeiss T* lenses.
However, the 1985 introduction of Minolta's Maxxum/Dynax 7000 autofocus (AF) camera was a huge success, and all camera makers scrambled to catch up. Kyocera decided to reposition the entire Yashica manual-focus SLR line as a ‘value-priced’ choice for entry-level photographers. Kyocera also began to offer various cameras with the Kyocera nameplate for buyers in Japan, while subsuming the old Yashica into its new corporate identity. The company also decided to manufacture an AF 35mm SLR camera and a new series of AF lenses to compete with Minolta's revolutionary Maxxum/Dynax.
In December 1986, Kyocera introduced its new line of autofocus 35mm SLR cameras and lenses, all but one carrying the Yashica name for the international market. Unfortunately, the new Yashica AF cameras were introduced rather late and had difficulty against more established competition, which also had a larger selection of compatible lenses. A little better success was achieved with the Samurai series of compact SLRs in camcorder design. These zoom cameras were optimized for one-hand operation. The Samurai Z was even available in a lefthanders' version (Samurai Z-L). Furthermore, the attractive range of Contax Carl Zeiss T* lenses was no longer an option, as there were no new Contax lenses in the new Yashica autofocus mount. Kyocera attempted to encourage existing owners of Yashica manual-focus SLR cameras to move to autofocus by offering a 1.6x tele-converter adapter to mount Yashica or Contax MF lenses to the autofocus cameras, but without much success. The Yashica autofocus SLR cameras continued in a progressively cheapened series of models until 1994, when the entire autofocus line was discontinued, reportedly after significant losses.
Kyocera also made a number of fairly successful autofocus point-and-shoot film cameras for the consumer market, culminating in 1992 with the Yashica T-4. This compact camera was equipped with a high-quality 35mm/3.5 Carl Zeiss T* lens along with improved weather sealing, and proved very popular as a rugged travel camera. Kyocera had also continued the process of repositioning Yashica SLR cameras, offshoring assembly to China and Hong Kong to reduce costs. Kyocera's last series of 35mm Yashica SLRs, the 107/108/109MP line, was not a commercial success, though the old Yashica FX-3 (now in Super 2000 form) sold well until its discontinuance in 2002.
Kyocera continued to make point-and-shoot film cameras under its own name and that of Yashica, as well as premium rangefinder and SLR models. These include the 35mm Contax G and Contax G2 rangefinders, and the Contax N-series of autofocus SLRs. The company also entered the digital camera field in 1997 with Kyocera, Yashica, and Contax branded models. A new medium-format film camera, the Contax 645 AF, appeared in 1999, along with several dedicated and interchangeable lenses.
In 2005, Kyocera announced it would cease production of all Yashica, Kyocera, and Contax cameras.
35mm film Edit
Manual focus SLR Edit
- Yashica FX-3, FX-3Z, FX-3 Super, FX-3 Super 2000, FX-7
- Yashica FX-103 Program
- Kyocera Yashica 107 Multi Program
- Kyocera Yashica 108 Multi Program
- Kyocera Yashica 109 Multi Program
Autofocus 35mm SLR Edit
(Kyocera/Yashica AF mount):
- Kyocera/Yashica 200-AF (1987)
- Kyocera 210-AF
- Kyocera/Yashica 230-AF (1987)
- Kyocera/Yashica 270 Autofocus (1991) (US: 230-AF Super)
- Kyocera/Yashica 300 Autofocus (1993)
| Samurai Z|
by xdreí (Image rights).
Half frame (17×24mm) autofocus SLR Edit
- Yashica Electro 35 AF-mini
- Kyocera Yashica MG-3 (plastic body, fixed focus 34mm lens)
- Yashica TAF (Kyocera TAF, first in the T* series)
- Yashica T2 (Kyocera T)
- Yashica T3 (Kyocera T Scope)
- Yashica T3 Super
- Yashica T4 (Kyocera Slim T)
- Yashica T4 Super (aka "T Proof" and T5)
- Yashica T4 Zoom
- Yashica Microtec Zoom 70
- Yashica Microtec Zoom 90
- Yashica Zoomate 70
- Yashica Zoomate 140
Medium Format Film Edit
- Yashica Samurai 4000iX (4×zoom camera in camcorder design)
- Yashica Profile 4000iX 30-120mm Zoom (similar camcorder design)
- Yashica Acclaim 100
- Yashica Acclaim 200
- Yashica Kyocera Socius
- Contax Tix
Digital Cameras Edit
- Kyocera Finecam L4v
- Kyocera Finecam S4
- Kyocera Finecam S5
- Yashica Samurai DG 1300
- Yashica Samurai DG 2100