The Yashica T series sure gets a lot of love. There’s a lot to like here thanks to its excellent lens. But one little flaw made me say no thanks to it. Check out my updated review here.
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.
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.
A stupidly expensive 2CR5 battery powers it all. Thank goodness I already had one. I spooled some Kodak Gold 400 into it, as point-and-shoot 35mm cameras seem to like ISO 400 color film. 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.
By the way, if you like point-and-shoot 35mm cameras, also check out my reviews of the Canon AF35ML (here), the Kodak VR35 K40 (here), Minolta AF-Sv (here), and Nikon Zoom Touch 400 (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
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.
I did get some blown highlights in this shot. But I find that color negative films usually have a hard time with yellow.
I also took the T2 out on a gray day. I climbed over my back fence to photograph the golf course a little, as it had gone insolvent and was receiving no maintenance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.