I'm a huge fan of the Yashinon-DX line of lenses so it was only logical that I would be enamored by the camera that went with them. The Yashica J-7 is an absolutely gorgeous camera. It's a fully mechanical SLR with a unique side mounted light meter. The arrangement is novel and understandable given the camera's age but in reality it's basically unusable. Shooting with it I always referred to external metering. I love the feel though and I love shooting with it just as much as with the Yashinon-DX lenses. My only real complaints are with the cold shoe and the focusing screen. The cold shoe rides on the eye piece which is... odd. It really stresses that they just forgot to include the shoe in the design and this mount is just a last minute addition. The focusing screen's microprisms are really hard to see with wide angle lenses unlike a more traditional split image rangefinder. I managed to get an insane deal for mine that came with a lens.
Design: Mechanical 35mm SLR
Focus: Manual Focus with Microprism/Ground glass
Shutter Range: 1/1000 - 1 with Bulb
ISO Range: 12 - 800
Flash Sync: 1/60
Meter: Non-TTL CdS with side readout
Exposure Modes: Manual
Other Features: Self-timer
Date Acquired: 08/30/2019
Serial Number: 2723403
Purchase Price: $20
Going Price: ~$100 - Collectiblend
My Copy's Performance
This camera is a lot of fun to use. The film advance and rewind are working fine and the viewfinder is very bright. I do wish it had a split prism but the microprisms aren't terrible just a little harder than I'd like to use. The shutter speeds seem mostly accurate but doesn't fully open at very fast speeds. This is a little unfortunate as a slow shutter can at least still be used but in this case you definitely can't use 1/1000. I think 1/500 is probably OK but ideally stick to a little slower. There doesn't appear to be any issue with aperture actuation speed which is impressive for an M42 SLR of this age. The light meter unfortunately is totally useless. I tried it a few times and decided the readings I was getting just weren't grounded in reality. You should definitely use an external meter.