The claim is true--more or less. After Kyocera gobbled up many companies including Contax and Yashica, the design was shared, but for a few minor differences.
Historical Perspective regarding Yashica--and why this camera is their best model ever.
Yashica ruled a segment of the amateur camera market back in post WWII forward until well into the seventies. Their formula was like a lot of other Japanese companies of the time with everything from fishing reels to consumer goods--that was made possible by mass production techniques that copied the best competitor designs and make them cheaper, but good enough. They did the job and cost the consumer less. Were it not for this, most people would have done without. As time went on, the products got better. The Deming Method of Improvement in Manufacturing, having been rejected by American manufacturers, was embraced by Japanese companies to their advantage. These methods also affected Japanese Camera Companies. Yashica was one of the benefactors and survivors. Cheap and good enough was the formula.
Historical Perspective of this Camera
During the late seventies and early eighties, Japanese business conglomerates were gobbling up smaller companies. Shared resources provide economies of scale and exponential mass-marketing. already efficient companies were maximized for even greater potential. A Japanese electronics imaging company that I worked for at the time was purchased by one of these conglomerates--as were several related camera and optics companies--including the venerable high-end Contax and the lower-end Yashica.
Why this Camera is So Good
In the first part of the 1980s both companies were leveraged for maximum advantage in their respective segments of the photography market. Almost functional identical cameras were released under these two brands--one for the low-end, one for the high-end. Even many parts were interchangeable. Though both offerings were remarkable and good, Yashica buyers got a great value. They got virtually the same camera as Contax was selling minus a couple of professional features. Some less expensive materials were used in areas that did not much affect the function of the cameras. The Yashica FX-D Quartz was one of these cameras. By the way, at the time this camera came out, quartz-timed timepieces were new. Although quartz had been used as an ocillator for precise time-keeping with the first part of the century, it was only around the eighties that electronics were beginning to be minaturized enough to be used in watches and cameras. This was a big deal, then. It is still a very precise method of timiming, although it is fairly standard now.
But even the manufacturers might be surprised to learn, too long after the fact to matter, that they got a batch of inferior imitation leather to use for the Yashica models. After about twenty years, the stuff began to peel and deteriorate and then appear to almost melt. It looks awful, and it must have been used universally for all the Yashica cameras because they all seem subject to this effect so predictably that a user cult of photographers who so enjoy the camera that they buy them and immediately replace the old stuff with new leatherette or even leather. I had intended to do the same with this camera, as I had replaced dry-rotted leather on so many much older relics in my collection in the past. I never got to this, and my camera languished for years in storage until I decided to just sell them all.
Note: I have recently learned that the Contax version of this camera also had the problem with disintegrating letherette.
My Evaluation of this Camera
This Yashica FX-D is a pleasure to use. It is just like the Contax with a few exceptions. Designers intened to meet the competition head-on with a fine camera, under both the Contax and the Yashica label. This was by far the best Yashica 35 ever made. It is as small as the Olympus OM1n and offers feature for feature plus some. In is on a par both in appearance and function of many fine Nikon modelswith many Nikons and was better than the Canon AE1, that put Canon on the map as a viable producer of SLR cameras during same time. I once worked for Canon USA and I liked their products. I have owned three (maybe four) AE1s, which I really liked at the time. But I like the Yashica FX-D Quartz better. After over three decades, the Yashica feels and sounds new in operation. The shutter, though fairly loud, sounds strong and the metering is excellent, even though the TTL flash metering is one advantage the Contax version offers. The Yashica dodel offers many professional features including Shutter Lock-up. Although it lacks big bros Depth of field Preview it still offers features that are usually only included with high-end cameras. It even has an audio warning for unacceptable lighting conditions. The metering is still good. It uses Aperture Priority for the automatics, which was the choice of some of the best cameras of the time. A autowinding film advance was availabe from Yashica. One subsequent FX-SE Quartz Model came with the winder attached. Otherwise it was the same camera.
Both Branded versions have black the bodies prefered by professionals, which stylishly brass with much use. I don't think it was ever availabe any other way. Brassing with use on black camera bodies was regarded as a kind of badge of experience and usage among some Photographers. My camera was apprently used very little because it shows no brassing at all. The camera design overall in black is considered by camera enthusiasts to be among the most beautiful cameras. Except for the funky letherette, I am inlcinded ot agree.
You can order a precut replacement cove in a variety of colors for this camera from Internet third parties. You can also easily cut and replace it yourself, since it requires no angles or fine cut-outs. Rubber cement works fine for this. It is apparently becoming a thing for a cult following of these cameras to replace with bright colors.
My Opinion of this Camera
I got my start in photography when my dad, an accomplished hobby photographer allowed me the use of his Yashica 44 EM Twin Lens Reflex Camera. I have owned a fleet of Yashica Cameras, and know them as a user as well as anyone, including earlier 35s. Had it not been for Yashica's less expensive offerings back then, I likely would have been unable to own anything in the way of viable cameras. But I am telling you without reservation, that the FX-D Model 35 SLR was in a class head and shoulders above all other Yashica cameras.
This is an excellent lens that I take to be an aftermarket lens. But the design means that any lens made for this vintage Contax/Yashica mount will work. The Contax version featured a great Carl Zeis lens. The Yashica version lens was also very good. Part of my point, however,is that any of these lenses will fit the body, and they are not hard to find, inexpensively on the used market. The lens show did a good job for me, though I was not doing anything extraordinary with it during these tests. It is clean and provides a good range of zoom 28 to 70, and includes a protective skylight filter, rubber retractable shade, and a lens cap.
Note: I got cameras for my collection from various sources, not the least of which was eBay, but this particular camera was given to me by a dear friend who had owned and babied it over the years. He knew that I enjoyed and collected cameras and that I blogged about them. He got a new digital camera, and very thoughtfully gave it to me. I have enjoyed it as much as anyone can who has his choice of virtually any vintage camera in a digital age. Whatever I get for this camera on eBay will be given back as a surprise to my good friend.