5 Frames with a Yashica T2 and Kodak Portra 400 – By Nathan Bobinchak

This Yashica T2 is a new pickup that I initially bought to repair and flip. While I was able to repair it (the battery door was bad, as is common on older point-and-shoots), I may no longer be planning on flipping it.

I don’t know if it’s common to T2s, but mine tends to overexpose by at least a stop. Combined with a remarkably mellow lens, this camera simply eats up light and specializes in the filmic “tones” that either galvanize or repulse you in post-ironic horror.

Portra 400 is known for its tolerance of overexposure, so it’s a perfect match for my T2. A bit of golden light in the late spring/early summer is just the thing for this combo. The following images were self-developed with the Cinestill Cs41 kit and scanned on a Pacific Image Primefilm XAs at 5000dpi with Silverfast, minimally adjusted in Lightroom for consistency.

A subway station on Kodak Portra 400 during the golden hour
This is a good example of the general overexposure that I experience in my T2; I’m not complaining!

I can’t explain it, but the T2 combination with Portra 400 manages to hold on to highlights while maximizing shadow exposure. I’ve tried the overexposed-film look on other cameras, but never with such good results—the highlights tend to blow, causing weird color casts. The T2, whatever its magic is, seems to avoid this.

Impressive sharpness for a point-and-shoot here.

The T2’s Zeiss Tessar lens is pretty sharp, and though it perhaps lacks the critical sharpness to outresolve the film inside, sometimes it’s capable of outstanding results. Overall, it’s exceptional for a point and shoot, even though it seems to be shooting wide open more often than not.

And a cheeky bit of flare to round things off!

The lens is also capable of excellent contrast and “pop” when the scene calls for it. Again, the camera seems preternaturally able to expose for the scene it’s viewing.

The T2 decided to shoot (presumably) wide-open in pretty intense golden-hour light.

Autofocus accuracy is the biggest question mark with the T2 for me so far, though I’m comparing it mostly to the Nikon L35AF, which has surprisingly fine feedback on the selected focus distance before shooting, and almost never fails. While the T2 misses sometimes, it’s also capable of excellent results, even at (apparently) full aperture.

I’m still testing and evaluating the T2 for a full review. Keep an eye out for that soon!

For more of my photography and other interests (I’m a full-time watchmaker), find me on Instagram at @nbobinchak or on my website, www.bobinchak.com.

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10 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Yashica T2 and Kodak Portra 400 – By Nathan Bobinchak”

  1. Hi Nathan, I agree with you about not moving this fine camera on . . . . . .it’s a keeper . . . . . .I love the results that you are getting, beautiful images . . . . .well done.

  2. This camera has a superlative lens. Surprisingly, it seems to be a rare version of a Tessar design with a wide-angle length of 35mm (tell me if other lenses with the same combination exist). But unfortunately, this camera is often overpriced and I am hesitating to buy a camera with such an ugly design and weak concept (no control on focus and exposure) only for the quality of its lens. What a shame that Zeiss hadn’t sell a manual l39 version of the same lens.

    1. It is definitely expensive most of the time. I was lucky to score a copy that needed a simple repair to become functional again. The lens is quite fine, though I don’t think it’s that uncommon on cameras of that era! Lots of the late 1970s-1980s fixed-lens rangefinders and point-and-shoot autofocus cameras used similar designs in their f/2.8 iterations, I think (though I expect to be corrected). It is definitely limited in manual control, though I also appreciate that element—point-and-shoot cameras allow a nice element of freedom with their simplicity!

  3. Yashica T2 lover here 🙂
    I think it’s your T2 got something funky inside that over-exposed the films, mine and my friends’ exposed films perfectly. Don’t get me wrong, i think it’s nice, it’s got the look that no other cameras will produce. Lucky you!
    If i were you i’ll buy another T2 for comparison/backup/different looks 🙂

    1. Thanks, Randy! Looking at other people’s experiences with the camera, I think you’re right. That said, I also agree that it has a nice unique look! I’ve tried cleaning the metering sensor lens, but at this point I think I’ll just live with it. I haven’t had an overexposed image yet (even with 800-speed film in bright sunshine, somehow!) and now I just know better than to shoot anything that’s moving too quickly…

  4. Another T2 owner chiming in! Mine also overexposes by about a stop. I didn’t realize this until maybe 4-5 rolls in and shooting 1 roll of E100 that came out all overexposed :(. So either it has something to do with its electronics at the time or perhaps whatever dirt and dust has settled within the little SPD window above the lens causes it to overexpose. I will say that the lens does impress me when it does actually nail the focus right. I tend to shoot 400 speed and above only films due to the erratic nature of the autofocus selector on this camera. Its a camera I wanted to get rid of due to its shortcomings but there is just something about it that oozes charm that makes it a keeper.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one with the issue! I do think CdS cells can lose a bit of strength as they age, and the lower resistance will cause an overexposure effect. Did yours totally blow things out? Mine tends to hang on to the highlights nicely, so I don’t really mind it. I only shoot above 400 as well, and frequently recode Superia 400 to 800 for this camera for that very reason. Mine misses critical focus more than I’d like as well, but I have a hard time telling if it’s actually bad focus or motion blur!

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