Yashica’s Back – And This Time It’s Analogue

Last year’s Yashica Y35 launch led to one of the biggest outpouring of anger the photography community has ever seen. Whilst the Y35 wasn’t as bad some the vitriol, it was far from perfect. So there was some surprise when rumours of a Yashica branded film. But they’ve now pushed it even further with the launch of a Kickstarter for 2 new films, an analogue camera and the promise of more.

But What’s the catch ?

You can’t help feeling if only they’d done this first. What’s on offer is much more imaginable and cheaper. It’s also not something where exceptions (at least for now) are going to be too high. The Y35 has left a lot on animosity out there and the press around this announcement has been on the negative side.

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

What’s Up for Backing

Yashica’s Kickstarter has 3 items to be backed.

There was the much touted Yashica 400, a 35mm 400 ISO film. Yashica drip marked it through this month as this Petapixel post details. This is described as colour film with balanced grain, slight on the warm side as geared for skin tones.

From Yashica”s Kickstarter page

The other film Yashica Golden 80s, is also a 35mm 400 ISO film. This is a limited edition which features more colour saturation and more obvious grain. It’s intended to celebrate 70 years of Yashica (no – I can’t see the link in title either !).

Both films are 24 exp. Yashica have revealed they’re actually made by someone else. This isn’t a worry as setting up a film production is quite an undertaking (just look at the Film Ferrania saga) and there’s plenty of boutique films like Kosmo Foto Mono 100 which are made by another supplier.

We don’t now who makes it but my money is on Lucky Films. This Chinese film maker is best known for B&W film these days but a decade ago sold colour film. This was the product of a 2003 Joint Venture with Kodak. Production of colour films finished in 2011 but 2 years ago a new Lucky Colour film was announced. Not sure what happened to that but they certainly have the ability.

The Bigger Shock – New Yashica Film Cameras

What was really out of the blue was the camera and the possibility of 2 future cameras.

What’s on offer now is the MF-1. Basically fixed focus & exposure camera. Made with a plastic 31mm lens and a fixed f/11 & 1/120 sec. The manually operated flash uses 2xAA. There’s not much else. The lens doesn’t have a cover and the film plane is curved to improve focus with such a basic lens.

It looks suspiciously like a disposable but re-loadable. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

They’ve priced it well. The early bird Kickstarter comes in at HK$190 (~£19GBP) for a MF-1 & a roll of Yashica 400. Lomography sells their disposable for £15.90. Yes you can buy an even cheaper Kodak or Fujifilm disposable but this camera sits between those and the likes of the Superheadz wide and slim, Diana Mini and all those other trendy Lomo plastic cameras that sell for more without film.

Lomography Diana Mini
Lomography Diana Mini – my true Love hate cam

The problem is we only have 8 photos to go on. It’s not clear if this lens adds much. As with all of modern plastic cameras there’s always the issue of much cheaper plastic cameras from last decades of film

Halina Vision XF 35mm Camera
Halina Vision XF fixed focus basic 35mm Camera. You can get this for a peanuts

There’s also the issue of the name. Yashica had a series of cameras with the MF moniker and there’s a zone focus camera called the MF-1. Not perhaps the best choice then however there is some logic

Taken from Yashica’s Kickstarter page. MF-1 (front), MF-2 (l) and Yashica-44 (r)

Yashica also tease us with the promise of 2 more advanced cameras.

The New MF-2

One is called the MF-2. This actually is based on a old Yashica camera and probably explains why the Kickstarter camera is called the MF-1.

But this new MF-2 isn’t actually a re-imagining of the original MF-2. Nor the MF-2 Super but actually the Kyocera era MF-2 Super DX from 1986.

Yashica MF-2 super
Yashica MF-3 Super DX. Image by Joydeep [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

This is a Fixed focus compact with DX-coding. It seems to hav just a single shutter speed. I’m struggling to clarify if the CdS cell is metering or just a low light warning system (some sites quote the aperture as fixed at f/8 except when flash triggered).

Not that much of step up potentially then.

A Old Classic rehashed or Trashed ?

The other camera is more interesting. It promises to be a 21st century re-visioning of one of Yashica’s most Iconic cameras the Yashica-44.

2010 11 03 Kamera Yashica 44 A-006
Orginal 1958 Yashica-44. Image from wikicommons and by Frode Inge Helland [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

This one will take 35mm film (it’s not clear if that’s all it will accept or if you can still use 120 film like the original). Hopefully the build quality will be up to the job or we could end up with little more than this !

If they don’t get the new 44 right, the anger over the Y35 will be peanuts in comparison.

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12 thoughts on “Yashica’s Back – And This Time It’s Analogue”

  1. I don’t get the fuss over the Yashica brand being used to sell garbage products. It’s either good and useful, in which case you buy it, or it’s not and you don’t. I don’t see why as photographers should care what name is on it.

  2. I can’t wait to see what their re-visioning of the 44 TLR will be. I’m willing to bet it will bear no resemblance to the original 44. And as the 44 took 127 film, why would anybody go to the trouble to produce a camera for an obsolete film? Unless they know something about a new 127 film coming to the market. Now this would please a lot of people who have some very interesting and worthy 127 based cameras.

    Let’s not forget that these guys are not philanthropists, but entrepreneurs out to make a buck. They say a fool and his money are soon parted. How many will be stupid enough to get caught a second time?

    1. Producing 127 film in 2019 would be flushing cash down a toilet. The 44 will be a 35mm toy – I’m betting a box camera with a pseudo-TLR viewfinder.

  3. I read somewhere that the latest Lucky film is made by Hardman!! Kentmere seems to getting around. Which leaves Foma and Kodak, unless Ferrania have done a deal? Italy has supposedly signed up the the ‘Silk Road Deal’.

      1. There’s been a lot of speculation which disposable camera they’re using as the basis of the MF-1. Oddly this looks the closest yet

    1. Ferrania are not in position to do colour negative film at the moment. Lucky/Hardman tie in is news to me but Lucky launched a colour film in 2017. The Yashica film is believed to have Kodak edging and I’ve heard is marked 400-3 which was the edge marking of Kodak Gold 400 (3rd version)

  4. Just been on kickstarter site. The MF1 looks the same as the Lomo ‘disposable’ which I believe they reckon can easily be reloaded. A bit more expensive but i suspect disposable cameras can be acquired in bulk with whatever you want printed on. Lomo probably go for larger quantities to have there own odd ball films included.

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