35mm, Yashica T2

Yashica T2 V Olympus XA2

Yashica T2 loaded with AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 400 film.

I’ve been forcing myself to give both the 50p Camera (Olympus XA2), and b/w film a rest.  Instead, the little time that I’ve had for photography, I’ve been using my Yashica T2 AF compact camera, loaded with cheap C41 colour film.  Although I love b/w, the reality is that I have plenty of Poundland film in the fridge / freezer, that I bought a few years ago, for a quid each.  Nice 36 exposure 200, and a few 24 x 400 AgfaPhoto Visa Plus.  I can get C41 processed by a good local photolab for £2.50.  This makes the film/process cost cheaper than any b/w film, at 9p per exposure on the 36 shot films.  In addition, it seems a positive thing to embrace different gear and media on occasion.

The above photo was exposed onto the faster Poundland that was circulating a year or two ago, the AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 400.  I like it so much, I’m going to use up my last few cassettes of it next.

Using the Yashica T2 V Olympus XA2

I have been using the Olympus XA2 (c.1982) for a few years now, for opportunistic, snapshot, street, etc.  How does the Yashica T2 (c.1986) compare? They are very different 1980s 35mm film compact cameras.

Portability.  The XA2 wins hands down.  It is so small, it’ll fit in most pockets.  As my XA2 is so battered anyway, I don’t care too much if it rattles against other debris in the pocket such as coins, even keys.  The clamshell lens cover protects well.  The Yash T2 is very pretty, but actually quite bulky.  I don’t want it bashed, it’s so good condition, so I have to hang it around my neck with it’s wallet on.

Focus.  The XA2 uses a simple 3 zone focus.  You have three fixed focuses to manually select from.  The default is pretty cool for street.  It’s a fast, silent, simple system.  The T2 on the other hand uses an early (1986) Auto-focus system.  It’s slow and clumsy compared with modern auto focus, and pretty crap at a moving subject.  However, when it hits, it’s sharp compared to the zone focus XA2.  Better than the XA2 on still or very slow subjects.  The XA2 wins for quick snapshots at moving subjects.  The T2 makes nice portraits, aided by it’s Carl Zeiss T* Tessar lens.

Street Stealth.  No competition.  The XA2 wins.  I’ve heard the Yashica T series being hailed as stealth street cameras.  Bollocks they are.  They are actually pretty bulky for a compact 35mm.  The AF slows you down.  The biggest problem for stealth however, is the loud film motor drive.  It’s part of the nostalgic attraction of it, but for stealth, it’s like a loud hailer shouting “look at me, I’m taking photos of you!”.  The T2 is NOT a stealth street camera.  The XA2 is.  The XA2 is tiny, and in experienced hands, the 3 zone focus is fast and silent.  In my opinion, a far better street camera than any SLR.  I even once took a candid of two photographers, one a pro, a metre away.  The pro heard the shutter, but looked all around.  The XA2 was out of sight.  Quite funny really.

Quality.  I’m not a huge fan of image technical perfection, but this is where the T2 does finally win over the XA2.  The hipster rated Carl Zeiss lens, and AF makes for better Q.  The scanned negatives are sharper.  The XA2 does, if it hits perfect optimum focus, still make some sharp clear photos, but a lot of the time you are playing in the focus zone out of optimum.

Happiness.  I’m a big fan of what fun a camera brings.  I’ve maybe thrashed and done so much with the XA2, that I need to put it down for a few months, in order to appreciate it again.  For now, I really am getting happiness from the Yashica T2.  I feel that despite it’s failings as a fast stealth camera,  I’m smiling when I take a snapshot.

Either camera, I believe this is what 35mm film was meant to be.  Miniature, portable, point & shoot.  George Eastman’s vision come true.  This is what I use 35mm film for.  How about you?


4 thoughts on “Yashica T2 V Olympus XA2

  1. Les Murdoch says:

    I’m envious of your costs. On Skye there is now no longer a photo lab so, as I don’t do my own colour processing, films have to be sent away. The postage for one film used to be 58p not that long ago – it’s now £3.30 first class. For C41 I use Photo Express in Hull. To process and scan a film they charge £6 including return postage which I don’t think is too bad. The quality of the scans is pretty good too.
    Lately I’ve been shooting colour slides for which I use Spectrum Colour Labs in Plymouth (e6processing.co.uk). They charge £9 to process and scan a 36exp film but they ask £4 for return postage. Factor in the cost of the film and you’re talking about more than £20 all in. I can save postage by sending several films at once but I’m usually too impatient to wait until I’ve a load to send off. Years ago I used to do my own E6 processing using Ferrania film but the results were a bit hit and miss so I gave that up. You can definitely see the appeal of digital shooting (financially speaking) but I still love using my crazy collection of old film cameras.

    • Respect to you for still bothering Les. I have tried C41, using a chemistry kit, but the temperatures were difficult to keep stable, and it really didn’t suit my Paterson tank or inversions. I’m sure a Jobo system would be more suitable for C41. I am lucky to still have a decent photo lab nearby (12 miles away or so), although until a few years ago, there were two still in service within a mile of me.

  2. Ken Hindle-May says:

    Weirdly, I bought both of these cameras a couple of weeks ago. Both eBay specials, the T2 for £8, the XA2 for £6. I thought I’d try the T2 and see how it compares to its more illustrious (and far more expensive) cousins, the T4 and T5. It has the same lens, so should be pretty close in image quality at least. It was described as having a damaged battery door and came with a tiny piece of black plastic in a ziploc bag that must’ve broken off it. I figured I’d just tape it shut but actually it seems to screw closed just fine. I’m looking forward to running a roll through it at the weekend.

    The XA2 hasn’t fared quite so well. I can’t get it to wind on, though I think the problem lies with the shutter button. It feels less springy than my XA so I’m going to try and open it up to tweak the spring. I’ve also seen a hack that lets you put a new button on altogether. The light seals look shot, too, so my hopes of a quick test, turnaround and profit are likely shot. I think I’ll fix it up and gift it to someone. With 400 speed film in it, an XA2 is a very handy and forgiving route into film photography.

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