Lo-Fi Stand Off – The Halina 1000 v The Yashica Y35

When the Yashica Y35 arrived last year it got a bit of a pounding. Much of that was to do with overvalued expectations about this retro styled digital shooter. It’s essentially a lo-fi beast that has does do a slow film style shooting well. It has imitations mainly the hefty current price tag and limited optics. But often it’s compared to much more technically able digitals. So how does it if fare against another retro inspired but analogue lo-fi favourite the Halina 1000.

The Y35 was widely panned initially and I was one of the few who had anything positive (with caveats) to say about it . But since then more nuanced reviews have popped up such as Hamish Gill’s review at 35mmc and DPReview on YouTube

The better reviews point to this being a toy camera so lets compare it to a plastic fantastic number. I’m deliberately picking a middle of the road one here. No VUWS and it’s can’t believe it’s not glass optics nor anything too foul.

Halina 1000
Halina 1000

Plastic -o-rama

The Halina 1000 was the runt of the Thousand series from the 1970’s. Whilst the Halina 2000 & 3000 could hardly be called high tech, they did come with glass lenses & significant controls from focus to full stepping exposure.

The 1000 is not that sort of camera. we’ve a simple plastic fixed focus 45mm lens with 3 aperture settings and a fixed circa 1/60-1/125 shutter. It is nicely styled like a bigger late 60’s classic compact. It is also closely related to the Halian/Ansco 35 and a host of other cameras. It’s a simple easy to use camera.

Storm Brewin'
Yashica Y35 with DigiFilm B&W. Dumfries 2019.

Digital low end

Our Y35 allegedly is styled on the Yashica Electro 35 but is much smaller. It too is fixed focus and has a fixed f/2 aperture. The 1/2.5″ 14MP CMOS sensor is allegedly 1sec-1/6000 although I have no idea as I keep getting a shutter speed of 1 second in my EXIF. Powered by 2 AA batteries it supports SDHC cards. Unlike most digital cameras there is no screen so you can’t review. And that hot shoe like slot isn’t one. So no flash option

Yashica Y35 with 1600 ISO  DigiFilm module
Yashica Y35 with 1600 ISO DigiFilm module

Film v DigiFilm

On of the Y35’s USP is DigiFilm. These are APS sized modules that you slot into the ‘film’ compartment. Effectively they provide a setting and filter effect to your images. At the time of typing there are 6 available. The camera’s standard pack came with a 200 ISO colour DigiFilm which we’ll see here alongside the B&W module.

The Halina can funnily enough be loaded with any 35mm film that’s on the market. It is of course more limited in it’s EV100 range (13-15 v the Yashica’s theoretical 1-15) but if you know what you’re doing you’ve wider options. Given there’s no metering E-6 is best avoided.

Cloud One
Halina 100 with Fujifilm C200. Blackpool 2019

Build Quality

The Y35 as been derided because of it’s build quality but it actually feels more robust than the Halina. To be fair the Halina is here 30-40 years since it was made and at least it’s film door catch actually works. But its door is decidedly creaky. It also isn’t weighted to give that quality weight feel.

Gasometer
Yashica Y35 with B&W DigiFIlm. Carlisle 2019

However the Halina shows some scuffing but given it was made before some of you were born that’s not too bad. Also the film counter need to be set manually and is prone to be not too reliable. However if the Y35 survives 3 decades as intact as the Halina I’ll be impressed. It has survived my camera bag for the last 6 months which is no mean feat,

The Y35 at least is filter threaded although I daresay you could find push ons for the Halina.

Yashica Y35 with 37-52mm filter adaptor and Vintage Petri Yellow filter

Styling

Both cameras ape the classic 1970’s silver and black Japanese rangefinder look. In Halina’s case it was more transient linking back to the cameras of the preceding era, trying to fool customers to thinking they were getting more than they paid for. In the Y35 case, oh yeah….

Gasometer
Halina 1000 with Agfaphoto APX100. Carlisle 2018

In use

The Halina is a no nonsense camera. You load your film and shoot. All you need to bear in mind is the 3 aperture settings. These are unknown but the Ansco 1065 which is just a variant describes its lens as a 45mm 1:8. This suggest this might be a f/8-16. Arguments about aperture aside this is standard point via the rubbish viewfinder and click the shutter. Then just wind the thumbwheel on.

Tower 2
Halina 1000 with Fujifilm C200. Blackpool 2019

The Y35 needs to be turned on. A LED shines purple while the camera boots up then turns red to let you can shoot. You’ve gotta crank the camera on with the replica winder before you can take a a shot.

That shot is the main problem. Depressing the shutter doesn’t fire it. Nor does the shutter sound the comes after a second. After 6 months of shooting this camera I still can’t tell you when the shutter actually fires. Move too early and the camera blurs. what I’ve also realised if you keep the shutter depressed the camera records the exposure as 1 second so you get no accurate EXIF data.

Tower I
Yashica Y35 with 200ISO DigiFilm. Blackpool 2019

It is weird but you do feel you’re shooting with a film camera. That’s probably the absence of the LCD. However the feeling is uncanny and this is a slow photography camera. The Y35 allows you to change DigiFilm after every shot (if you wanted).

Results

Optics

This isn’t a fair fight. The Y35 despite it criticism has a multi element glass lens. The Halina has just a plastic number with a fixed shutter speed . You can change the aperture. But trust me you really don’t want to do that. Below the sunny setting anything over 5-10 m becomes too blurry

Phone Exchange II
Halina 1000 with APX100, Carlisle 2018

At Sunny (~f/16) it’s not bad. Soft generally as you’d expect with softening towards frame edges. It isn’t a particularly contrasty lens

Corner
Yashica Y35 with B&W DigiFilm. Carlisle 2018

The Y35 benefits from the 4 element glass. It is no brilliant lens and you can buy a lot better for the money. But that’s not the point. It radially distorts more than the Halina with its barrel distortion being more obvious than the Halina’s Pincusion as these 2 shots show

Street II
Yashica Y35 with DigiFilm B&W. Carlisle 2019. Obvious barrel distortion. Sharper and more contrasty but a smidge over processed
Lane shot
Halina 1000 with APX100. Carlisle 2019. Softer and with slight pincushion

Sensor V Film

Despite the DigiFilm milarky, the Halina has the ability to be more flexible here. You can load it with any 35mm film you want although you might struggle to shoot it. This means you’ve a camera that if you want you can shoot T-max 3200 and push it as many stops as you want in theory. The limitations of the aperture means you’ll not want to take it below 100 ISO film at box speed.

The DigiFilm modules allegedly control your ISO setting but even then within an auto range. The Y35 has a variable shutter speeds and it does seem to broadly get exposure right erring on underexposing at times. Again this isn’t great for the money. EV compensation works well. However the images look like they’ve been a smidgen over processed.

End of the Pier
Is it the end of times come to Blackpool ? No we’ve got just poor light tolerability from the Y35. B&W DigiFilm 2019

One issue that comes up is the crap latitude you get and taking photos of even hazy sun makes it look like there’s been a thermonuclear detonation. If you get direct sun, you get a black image !! Yikes

You don’t get that with the Halina but it does flare if in direct sunlight.

Loch light
Halina 1000 with APX100. Lochmaben 2019

There’s also something going on with colour saturation on the Y35. That really depend on the DigiFilm but the 200ISO is very much a red heavy Kodak like film. Blackpool tower is a darker red than the shot further up I can assure you.

Flash and Low Light

The Halina really doesn’t do low light (unless you’ve loaded it with T-MAX 3200). But it does do flash

Meaning you can use anything including this GN33 beast and beyond !!

That ain’t gonna happen with the Y35. There’s mount is not standard size and has no contacts for flash. The manual refers to as yet unproduced LED light (yuk). But the Y35 is much more capable of low light shooting. You need to get the scene right as the Y35 can’t do bright light but there’s potential

Blown Theatre
Blackpool 2019. yashica Y35 with B&W DigiFilm
The Fleshers Arms before the Dawn

Dumfries 2019. yashica Y35 with B&W DigiFilm

Conclusions

This is a more nuanced comparison. On one hand we have the Halina 1000 a dependable cheap lo-fi plodder plastic cam from 3-4 decades ago. You can use whatever film you want and you can mount a flash. But…

it gets frankly rubbish as you widen the aperture for anything more than a few meters away. Even at f/16 it’s soft. the Y35 is sharper does better lo-light and has the analogue feel for a digital camera

Overpriced for the money but yet it does alright. You can go out and buy a much better technically digital camera for the money (just have a look here). But that’s not the point. Nor was the point that this would realistically e a reborn Electro 35 for the digital age.

Versus lo-end plastic lensed film cameras, Y35 wipes the floorwith the exception of flash photography. I would still consider it a toy class digital but…. that doesn’t translate to film toy cameras. I’m starting to rethink how to to compare this. The Y35 perhaps should be measure against 1950’s and 1960’s viewfinders like the Franka 125 or Ilford Sportsman.

That doesn’t make the Halina awful (leave that to shooting at anything less than sunny). But it’s not a fair fight.

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6 thoughts on “Lo-Fi Stand Off – The Halina 1000 v The Yashica Y35”

  1. Alan,

    Now that the hype, misguided expectations, furore and dust have settled down, it’s good to see the Y35 being assessed for what it is and not for what it isn’t. Hamish, in a much longer post, also came to a similar conclusion although, unusually for him, the few images posted are certainly below what you’ve shown the Y35 to be capable of.

    I like the concept and its idiosyncratic features very reminiscent of a film camera, but as a Kickstarter project? No, I was waiting to find out what it was all about and my expectations were soon to be dashed. But this wasn’t to be the end of my interest in it. It’s very quirkiness, IMO, makes up for its shortcomings and this makes it worthy of inclusion in my camera collection – I doubt we’ll see its like again.

    When looking for one, it’s now only a matter of price versus what many have rubbished as a camera, and after reading this post I checked out ebay and found one, boxed, and with 4 film cartridges (B/W, Colour 200, ISO 1600, and 6×6) for £50, inc. p&p. Looked a good price, so I’ve taken the plunge.

    I’m willing to bet that if one turned up with it at a pub gathering of photographers it would get a lot of attention (not justified in terms of outright photographic quality, of course) but because the chances are none will have owned or handled it and they’ll be curious!

    1. Welcome to lo-fi digital Terry

      Couple of pointers

      1 stick to B&W and 200 ISO DigiFilm to start. The 6×6 is frankly useless due to the weird colour palette

      2 when shooting you’ll need to fully depress shutter ( it can feel like 2 separate depresses) and release. I made the mistake of keeping depressed but this wipes out useful EXIF data. However keep camera still until both shutter Noise and Led reverts back to red.

      If you’d be interested in sharing your experience I’d happily post here-let me know

      1. Thanks, Alan.

        I did wonder about the 6×6 digifilm and why there would be a need, under normal circumstances, to crop this fixed focal length lens.

        I’ve been looking at the images you’ve posted on your flickr account, and many of these don’t look too bad at all, coming from a camera that has been well and truly panned. Of course, the same views taken with a “proper” digital camera would produce a better overall result, I’m sure. The best of your images are easily on a par with my better home scans of 35mm negative stock that I was using in the 1970’s to 1990’s, especially the film that came free with every order. Indeed, one may even say that the results from the Y35 look more film-like, Fuji excepted, than the film simulation modes of many a digital camera.

        Lo-fi the Y35 may be, and it isn’t a serious photographic tool, but I’m betting that I will get a lot of fun playing with it.

  2. The YASHICA Y35 seems a bit of a pointless camera to me if you want to use film use a film a camera and if you want to user digital use a better digital camera, seems a total waist of money.

    Now to me a better invention would be universal digital back that would fit on to existing film cameras.

    1. There are a few attempts to do that already such as

      https://imback.eu/home/

      But the point of the Y35 is that its a digital that makes you feel like you’re shooting film. And that it delivers but for the price they’re asking makes you assume you’re getting a rangefinder not an auto exposure aVUWS

  3. I love to shoot the pictures as where ever i visit….So, looking right now for an helping beautiful camera…and here is one among that i love the blog….!

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