With its features, the Yashica T4 performs at a surprisingly high level. In this review, you’ll discover what the T4’s best feature actually is.
Kyocera launched the Yashica T4 in 1990 as a premium compact camera targeted at non-professional users who wanted to take photos without too much fuss. It is a 35mm fully automatic film camera with a compact design that was designed and marketed with a general user in mind who’d take their cameras out when out on a vacation, or during some small family gatherings. As a result, the camera is simple to use – too simple perhaps, and yet the images that you can get out of them are gorgeous.
The camera featured a sturdy plastic design and was no competition to the sophisticated German designs. However, what’s eye-catching about the camera is the lens. It featured the Carl Zeiss Tessar 35mm f/3.5 lens which delivers razor-sharp images and has a minimum focusing distance of just 35cm.
Who is the Yashica T4 for?
Isn’t it totally unfair if you really love to take photos but don’t want to spend big on expensive cameras that need extensive knowledge of photography? You should be able to take good photos without going full professional and the Yashica T4 was Kyocera’s answer for this exact situation.
The camera has a no-nonsense design that focuses on one and only one thing – taking photos. There are hardly any buttons or controls, and there’s no way you can adjust the camera settings. You can find one button to trigger the shutter, another to adjust the flash mode, and one more for the self-timer function. That’s about it. The camera does everything by itself and makes you concentrate solely on the art of taking photos.
So, if you want a film camera that does all the heavy lifting for you, that has a pocketable size so that you can carry it around, and delivers quality results, you might want to consider the Yashica T4. It’s great for beginner photographers wanting to get a taste of film photography, but if you are a capable digital photographer who wants to try out what film photography feels like, you can give it a shot as well. I’m sure you will fall in love with the camera – at least I did.
You can also see our Best Film Cameras here for more selection of 35mm cameras.
Yashica T4 Specifications
|Lens||Carl Zeiss Tessar 35mm, f/3.5, 4 elements in 3 groups, T* (multi-coated)|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||116.5 x 63.5 x 37 mm|
|Shutter speed||1s – 1/700s (programmed)|
|Battery||One 3V Lithium battery (type CR123A or DL123A)|
Design and construction
You do not want to get the Yashica T4 if you’re in the market for a stylish film camera. It looks like a block of plastic and is surprisingly slippery to hold. The plastic body is sturdy however and doesn’t break easily. It does pick up scratches over time rather easily. Besides the plasticy ugliness, everything about the camera is fantastic.
The construction of the camera is pretty solid. The size is perfect to hold in the hands and carry around in a coat pocket. It does however tend to be a bit slippery as it doesn’t have any sort of grip to hold on to. It isn’t bulky either, and the size-to-weight ratio is just perfect to carry around. And you don’t want to use it in rainy or dusty conditions. It has no protection to it. For a higher level of weatherproofing, you might want to look at the Yashica T4 Super also known as the Yashica T5 depending on the market.
Kyocera has designed the Yashica T4 with just 3-buttons including the shutter release button, one switch to turn the camera on and off, and the last one for the self-timer function. That’s it! It is indeed a no-nonsense design that makes you think more about the composition and what elements you want to add or remove from the frame. All the technical stuff is handled by the camera automatically.
The camera has three autofocus points – one right in the middle, and two on the outer brackets. However, I always find myself using the center point just to be sure. Autofocus is not super fast, but it’s not clumsy either. Half press the shutter release button and the camera locks the focus and exposure to whatever the center point is placed over. A green LED light right next to the viewfinder lights up when the focus is locked. If something goes wrong, you’ll see the red one instead.
If you want to place your subject anywhere except the center of the frame, you will need to use the focus and recompose technique. Not a huge deal.
Had it not been for the lens, the Yashica T4 would’ve never come to the highlight. The 35mm, f/3.5 Carl Zeiss is the ultimate feature of this camera that makes it ever so valuable. It is definitely not a fast lens, but the fact that it is a f/3.5 compared to other f/2.8 lenses makes it sharper than the competition.
If you take a portrait with this lens with the subject in the middle, you will notice details that you might have never noticed before. It’s that good. Further, the 35mm focal length makes it a perfect choice for taking environmental portraits and even landscapes to some extent.
When you turn the camera on, the cover over the lens gets out of the way and the lens protrudes ever so slightly out of the body. And when the camera is turned off, the lens recesses back into the camera body, and the cover gets back into place over the lens.
Minimum focusing distance
While most of the competing models have lenses that focus no closer than 50cm, the lens on the Yashica T4 has a minimum focusing distance of just 35cms. This allows you to really get close to your subject and fill the entire frame with it. This makes the photo so much more powerful. If you are a street photographer, you will simply love the ability of the camera.
Shooting close also has another benefit. Even though the lens has an aperture of just f/3.5, you can get an image with a blurred-out background by shooting from a closer distance. This way, the lens makes up for not being a fast one, like an f/2.8.
Being a fully automatic camera, the Yashica T4 might catch you by surprise by triggering the flash if it feels that the ambient light is not sufficient. The flash is really hard and adds a punch to the photo. This even comes in handy when shooting in difficult lighting situations – like a subject that’s backlit. Thankfully, there is a way you can have some control over the flash.
The flash mode selector on the camera allows you to toggle between 4 flash modes viz. Auto, Red-eye Sync, Off, and Landscape with the help of a button. The button however is tiny. You will struggle the first few times if you have huge fingers. Also, keep in mind that if you happen to alter the flash mode, the settings will reset once you turn the camera off. It would’ve been perfect if the camera was still able to retain this setting even after a reboot.
The Yashica T4 is equipped with a DX code reader to help it automatically adjust the ASA based on the film’s speed. It supports ASA in the range of ASA 50-3200. Anything out of the range and the camera will set the ASA automatically to 100.
The camera has no option that lets you set the film speed (ASA) manually. If you need to pull or push the film either for controlling exposure or for creative purposes, sadly there’s no way you can do so with the T4.
Yashica T4 Sample Images
Final Verdict on the Yashica T4
I love the pocketable design of the Yashica T4. I wouldn’t call it beautiful, but it is very much practical. Easy to carry around, a sturdy body, and a size that fits right into the coat pocket make it a camera that you can spend a day quite easily with.
Being a fully-automatic point-and-shoot camera, it takes a whole lot of load off your back. It makes all the decisions by itself and it does it in a wonderful manner. Exposures are to the point and are rarely off. And the quality of the images are simply astounding thanks to the brilliant Carl Zeiss lens. You can also see our post on the Best Point And Shoot Camera Under $300 here.
If you want a film camera that you can depend on, this is the camera for you. It gets the job done beautifully. But, if you are someone who likes to have some degree of control over the images, sadly the Yashica T4 offers no such option.