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?

Standard
Rants and discussions

Happiness and photography gear

Caught on a car boot sale camera (Kodak Retinette II) and poundland film.

An old gripe of mine.  Allow me to express it again, as a warning to others.

Don’t be sucked into spending money on gear that doesn’t have value in terms of your happiness.  Most of us are enthusiasts and amateurs.  There is nothing inferior about that.  Our enthusiasm can be based on either photographic technology, or on photographic images.  In truth, most of our enthusiasm lays somewhere between those two poles – some more by the technology, some more by photographs.  Either way, what really is important – or should be, to us enthusiasts, is happiness.

It is all so easy, and very common, for novices to be drawn towards spending more money, in the pursuit of happiness.  However, they do not always get what they wanted.  They may find, that their photography doesn’t really improve much.  They might find that spending another grand, allows them to capture some images in slightly poorer light, perhaps slightly closer, perhaps slightly further away, or perhaps with slightly more resolution.  No doubt there is a short lived gratification “I couldn’t have caught that on my last lens / body”.  Wow, look at that moon surface / macro of a bug / etc.  Cool images.  However, does this expensive imagery really enhance your creativity or skill base?  Once you’ve got closer to the moon, what is next?  How much did that image cost in monetary terms?  Has it been done before?  Is someone doing it better with even more expensive, or newer gear?

How much happiness do you think that I’ve had out of the 50p camera project?  Compare it to the purchase of a new upgrade DSLR camera.  The DSLR might have cost you around £500.00.  My XA2 snapshot camera cost £00.50.  Okay, I’ve also used film, but mainly budget or home developed.  Still, how much happiness do you think that the DSLR gives you in comparison?  I’m quite proud of some of the photographs that I’ve got out of the XA2.  They may be lo-fi but some are pretty cool and even unique.  I’ve tried to be creative.  Not always an easy thing for me.  There are no attachments or upgrades for it.  For the DSLR, you bet that you are going to desire new lenses, extensions, flashlights, bags, battery grips, etc.

That is the chief message of this blog.  Think, don’t just spend.

Standard
35mm

A 1980’s 35mm Compact Camera

Yashica T2 testing the autofocus in Wisbech Park. Ilford HP5+ film. Developed in Ilford LC29. Scanned on Epson V500.

I don’t often get an urge for a camera, but just lately, I’ve had some kind of nostalgic desire to get hold of a half decent 1980’s 35mm film compact camera, and yesterday, I got one.

Back in the early 1980’s, I couldn’t afford a decent SLR camera.  My brother bought this knock out Canon AE1 35mm SLR.  I was bowled over by it, but there was no way that I could go without beer long enough in order to buy one.  My Bro recommended that I bought a “35mm compact camera”.  Until then, other than a brief flirtation with a Yashica TLR, I’d only ever owned 126 film Kodak Instamatics, a Polaroid, and God awful 110 pocket cameras.  So a half decent 35mm compact would be a step up!  A visit to a Norwich camera shop, and I purchased one.  I can’t remember which one!  It may have been a Canon AF35M.  Anyway, I remember a salesman trying to explain to me about lens quality.  As they usually did.  I do remember that this 35mm compact camera had state of the art gadgets, including a newfangled space age auto focus, and motorised film advance.  Wow.  I remember reading the user manual about this head screwing technology.

I continued to use 35mm AF compact cameras (with a brief flirtation with Kodak disc film) all the way until I discovered digital around 2003.  Digital came in, 35mm film compact cameras went the way of the dinosaur.  They cram boxes in charity shops and in car boot sales.  Yesterday’s technology.  Most of these 35mm film compact cameras were not anything special.  However, a small number of them were something a bit special.  The Yashica and Contax T series of compacts, were manufactured with highly reputable 35mm f/3.5 Carl Zeiss T* Tessar lenses.  Collectors and those in the know, stalk car boots looking for these treasures.  A VGC Yashica T4 or T5 fetches three figures from the collectors and hipsters on Ebay.  I kid you not, a good GBP £120 – £220 for a compact film camera.  These are not rubbish cameras.

My relatively old and lower status T2 (manufactured c1986) cost me considerably less than that, but just hearing that motorised film advance and rewind sends me back thirty years ago.  I only received it yesterday, I want to use up some Poundland C-41 film in it.  A fun camera to carry around.  I ran a test film through it yesterday, a spare 35mm cassette of Ilford HP5+ that I could quickly develop, then dry overnight.  It works (unlike the last T2 that I bought – see a few posts back).

The above photo is nothing special, except that it demonstrates the daylight flash function, the auto focus works (although this is not an action AF), and the lens does give good shallow DOF when required.

Standard
Film

Doin’ Different

Run dog run. Olympus XA2. Kodak Tmax 400 film. Developed in LC29

A local saying is Norfolk do different.  Most photography enthusiasts these days, of course use modern digital cameras and equipment.  Many also have the goal of making technically perfect images.  By that, I mean perfectly focused images with beautiful colours, deeply detailed, and sharp as a pin,with perfect exposure via a super fast shutter, onto a state of the art sensor and software.

That is fine for them.

I’ll just stick to my lo-fi 50p camera for now, or with similar gear.  Our photos do different.

Standard
50p camera

Look where you are going

Cambridge. Olympus XA2. Kodak Tmax 400 film. Developed in LC29.

This one recently captured on a Kodak Tmax 400 film in my 50p camera, the Olympus XA2.  I liked the textures of the old brick and stone work, with the chain curtain hanging in the doorway, I saw the cyclist coming, so saw it as a chance to put some animation and Life into the frame.  I didn’t see him look at me until I scanned the developed film.

I can’t see no end to this 50p Camera Project, not unless I manage to smash the XA2 (I have dropped it several times).  Still, it continues to produce photography that I like – even if it is too lo-fi for the taste of the modern online crowds.

Standard
35mm

A sudden yearning

Yashica T2 35mm compact camera. AgfaPhoto Vista Plus 200 film from Poundland. A bit of post scanned neg. post process on Gimp 2.8 software.

I have this sudden yearning to use a Yashica T series compact camera with a bit of colour film.  I did buy a Yashica T2 three years ago – and used it to take the above photo.  The camera that I bought though was sick.  After one test film, I put it back down.  Not long after, I discovered the 50p camera – my Olympus XA2, then moved onto home developed b/w film.

It has been said that a truly creative photographer can use any camera to make good photography.  However, gear is still important.  We do become attached to our cameras.  I’m interested in photographs that portray this, that show people with their cameras.  Are cameras like pets?  Do their owners resemble them?  I love seeing young film photographers on Flickr and Tumblr, flaunting their vintage cameras.  There is something personal about a camera.  It is not just about function.  If it is, then I suggest that you buy whatever the latest magazine bench mark tells you to, no doubt some Canikon DSLR.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s I couldn’t afford a “proper” camera.  No classic SLRs for me back then.  However, I did graduate from some pretty awful Polaroids, 126 Kodaks, and 110 pocket cameras to owning a series of 35mm compact cameras.  Autofocus and motor film wind were amongst the cool features of this breed.  Some of them, including the Yashica T series, even sported posh lens.  There were 35mm compact cameras, then there were 35mm compact cameras with Carl Zeiss.

As above.

I think my yearning now may be based on a nostalgia for those cameras.  I want to hear the motor winding the film on and then back.  I want to manipulate that auto focus.  I want to see if people on the street recognise that I’m using an artefact from 1980s culture, if they look around when they hear the motor.  Will young people wonder what that was?

Yes, you’ve guessed it, a T2 is already on it’s way to me.  I’ve finally given up looking for one at the car boot sales.  I’ve even decided on the first test film – an unloved 35mm Kodak Color film sitting on a bedroom shelf, that was given to me.  Fingers crossed that this one isn’t sick.

Standard