Tuesday, February 05, 2002

The Yashica T4

There's a reason why many have called the Yashica T4 one of the best point-and-shoots ever made - it's that good. I'm not saying it's THE best - I haven't tested enough P&S's to say definitively, but I can say that when I've used it, it's taken some remarkable pictures - as good as anything I've taken with the more powerful (and decidedly more expensive Nikon N90S). Alas, Yashica discontinued the T4 early in 2002 - rumor is that they ran into licensing problems with Carl Zeiss lenses who armed the T4 with one of the best optical rigs you'll find on a P&S. Luckily, "Cool" Chris Veltri put me up on this camera (yep, same guy who hepped me to the Polaroid) early enough for me to track one down before the prices on them got too silly.

That being said, it's not a cheap camera - used ones sell for anywhere between $200-250 and given that they're not in production anymore, you can expect the price to climb. It's a shame too because while it's more expensive than your garden variety P&S, the T4 makes taking great pictures pretty damn easy thanks to the Zeiss lens. But apart from the quality of the photos, the other thing that's great about the T4 is the waist-level viewfinder - perfect for taking surreptitious shots or just shooting from a different angle than most are used to seeing. To me, that little "extra" is what compelled me to go out and find one - I love taking shots on the sly though, not surprisingly, my friends are not so happy about it. Oops.

The only thing about the T4 that I'm unsure about is how its focusing mechanism works. There have been some photos that have turned out just awful - everything is out of focus and the color is terrible but I realize that in many of those photos, it's possible that the camera is focusing on an object dead-center in the back, and therefore avoiding objects (like people) standing closer to the camera but flanking on the side.

On that note, I've found that processing and printing makes a huge difference - the best shots taken with the T4 were processed and printed at high-end photolabs in the Bay Area whereas my less than spectacular pictures (most of which I did not include here) were done at 1-hr. labs. I'm not saying Walgreens can't produce some decent photos, but I've noticed a huge difference and to me, it's worth the extra dough.

For the following photos, I didn't include everything that I shot on the Yaschia - I mostly pulled out the photos that seemed to have the most interesting compositions or at least vivid examples of the T4's quality. Unfortunately, for the first set of photos scanned, the scanner bed was dusty and streaked so there's some visible mars on the photos, but those are not from the camera.


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