Cameras, Photography

Yashica T2

Sometimes, a fellow wants to go out, click away, and get good results without having to think too much. That usually leads to a point-and-shoot camera, but so many of them are crappy. Fortunately, a small number are not. Yashica’s T-series cameras, made from 1986 to 1995, are among them. So I was excited when this Yashica T2 (known as the Kyocera T in some markets) fell into my hands.

Yashica T2

Check these specs: 35mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss T* Tessar lens. Shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/500 sec. Automatic DX decoding of ISO 50-1600 film. Programmed autoexposure. Automatic focus from 1 meter to infinity. Built-in flash that fires when the situation calls for it, or turn it off, or force it to fill in daylight.

Yashica T2

A stupidly expensive 2CR5 battery powers it all. Thank goodness I already had one. I spooled some Kodak Gold 400 into it. Loading was simple enough: insert the canister on the right, pull the film across to the left until the end lies within the red mark over the takeup spool, shut the door. The camera does the rest.

Using this camera is a little more challenging than loading it, but you learn it soon enough. Place the subject in the center of the frame and press the button halfway. Look to see that one of the focusing zone symbols lights up in the viewfinder. If there’s no focusing symbol, you’re too close; back up and try again. Continuing to hold the button halfway, compose your shot and then press the button the rest of the way. The plastic shutter cover moves aside, the shutter fires, and the cover moves back into place.

When my shots came back from the processor, I found that I couldn’t materially improve them in Photoshop, except perhaps to crop or straighten them a little. (I didn’t even bother.) Color, tone, and contrast are spot on. I am impressed.

Tree shadows

Well, I did get some blown highlights in this shot. But I find that color negative films usually have a hard time with yellow.

Daffodils

I also took the T2 out on a gray day. I climbed over my back fence to photograph the golf course a little. You can just make out my shed there in the photo’s upper right. If you golf, you might notice how unkept this green is. The course is essentially abandoned after the owner defaulted on his loan. The bank owns it now, and is barely maintaining it.

On the abandoned golf course

My shed is a default subject. I like the way the T2 and this film brought out solid color even on this gloomy day. That red umbrella in my neighbor’s yard really pops, and the my shed’s tan paint is rich and true. The T2 makes Kodak Gold 400, a film I don’t like that much, look good.

Shed and its environs

I tried shooting the T2 inside one morning as the sun lit my living-room bookshelf. I assume the lens is at or near wide open here; things are a little soft. I left the flash off for this shot. I never tried the flash, actually.

Some cameras on the shelf

All was not skittles and beer with the T2. A couple times, something sounded off about the shutter. Checking it out, I ended up with a couple “is this thing working?” selfies. At least it focused correctly.

Selfie in the sun

I didn’t always enjoy the T2’s focusing choices, though. It’s supposed to focus in the center, but I sometimes got unexpected results, as here. The viewfinder shows whether the camera has focused close, for group shots, or for landscapes. I happily ignored all that as I shot. I suppose that if I were to stick with this camera, I would learn to pay attention to that.

True Temper

Most of the time I turned the camera for a portrait shot, I got my finger in the frame. When I was a kid, I got my finger in so many photos from my cheap 126 camera that I thought I’d never make it as a photographer. But after having shot dozens upon dozens of cameras now, I see that it only happens to me with some of them. I’ve decided it’s less my fault and more a design that doesn’t prevent intruding fingers. So now, when I find a finger in a frame, it’s the kiss of death for that camera.

Evaline Holliday Lane and my stupid thumb

To see more photos from this camera, check out my Yashica T2 gallery.

The Yashica T2 shows so much promise! It’s solidly made for having a plastic body. Its automatic exposure is spot on and its color rendition is wonderful. I could even live with its focusing challenges, probably by using it primarily for landscapes. But I don’t want to have to be that vigilant about my fingers. Sayonara, T2.


Do you like old cameras? Then check out all my gear reviews!

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16 thoughts on “Yashica T2

  1. Christopher Smith says:

    I have the TA F the first version of this camera and it’s is wonderful to use and the lens is pin sharp. I use Agfa Vista 200 (£1 from Poundland) and it really makes the colors pop. Deffo a camera worth keeping and using again if you can persevere with it. You got some nice photos with it Jim.

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  2. bodegabayf2 says:

    Carl Zeiss glass is the reason I bought my Contax RX. Too bad you couldn’t graft this lens onto a more user-friendly body.

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    • As you can see, this is capable glass. So capable that it makes Kodak Gold 400 look good, which is no small feat. Just wish the autofocus were more sure, and the body helped prevent intruding fingers.

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  3. hmunro says:

    I’ve had the same experience with so many cameras, Jim: The specs make me salivate … but the performance and ergonomics ultimately disappoint. Oh, well. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that a T4 will indeed fall into your hands!

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  4. Stuart says:

    That’s an interesting read Jim and you’ve certainly got some good results from it, although I’m sorry to read you had some issues with it – but it’s normal to get on with some cameras better than others.
    I hear what you’re saying about wanting to be able to just take out a simple camera sometimes – I’ve recently been thinking along the same lines. I tried a couple of early Canon Highboys but couldn’t get on with the lack of easy pre-focus. I settled on a Nikon AF3 instead and am just running a roll through it – it’d nice to have a decent P&S.

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    • Yes, there have been some considered-great cameras that I’ve not enjoyed, and some considered-crappy cameras that have just done great things in my hands. It’s personal and individual!

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  5. I just recently picked up one of the original Yashica T AF cameras, and just playing around with it, I like it so far. Hopefully the lens will live up to its reputation.

    Like your T2, it also has the different distance icons in the VF for the AutoFocus, which I like – it gives more feedback than a simple light that stays on to say the camera has locked focus, but you don’t necessarily know where. So if you’re aiming for something close and you get the mountain symbol, you have a chance to refocus rather than get a mis-focused shot.

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      • It also suggests that these relatively early AF cameras were pretty simple and maybe only had those three zones (ie the camera’s lens could only move to one of these three fixed positions), then the cameras AutoExposure was optimised to try to rely on depth of field for increased accuracy with the focusing.

        Initially when you pick up a zone focus camera with the symbols on the lens barrel you have to adjust yourself, it can seem intimidating.

        But it’s basically what these AFs are doing, they don’t have 10, 20, 50+ points of precise focus like more modern AF lenses might have. For me that somehow makes them more endearing and more fun to embrace and use.

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