Yashica 200 AF
5 frames with...

5 frames with the Yashica 200 AF in 1990s Tijuana – By Mirko Karsch

February 8, 2021

Analog photography is steeped in myth. What is often understood today as the “analog look” (coarse grain, blur and soft edges, pastel colors and a slight warm tone in B&W photographs) is actually only a small subset of analog photography. Moreover, it seems that analog photography is also so popular because (many) analog cameras have a beguiling aesthetic that cannot be found today.

Tijuana film photography

In fact, it is quite easy to produce analog images that hardly anyone would call analog if they were shown them. Moreover, there are also extremely ugly cameras from the analog decade. The Yashica 200 AF is one such camera. This SLR camera was released in 1987. The body is mostly hard plastic. The design is questionable at best. Still, the Yashica is my absolute favorite camera. Why? Well, for one thing, it shows me time and time again that photography is not about technology and it doesn’t matter what camera is used. This is even more true in analog photography, where the body only connects film and lens.

Tijuana film photography

Much more important is that I have experienced a lot with this camera. The Yashica was my first camera, I got it as a confirmation gift. At that time, the Berlin Wall was still standing. So the Yashica has been in my possession for quite a long time. Since then, the Yashica has accompanied me to many countries. Often the 28mm 2.8 from Kyocera was with me. You have to know, that at that time 28mm was considered to be a very wide-angle lens. Coming from 50mm I was totally flashed by the new possibilities this lens offered me. For this reason, I never actually took the 28mm lens off the camera. So this combination also accompanied me to Mexico.

Tijuana film photography

In the footsteps of Jack Kerouac I drove from LA to Mexico in the mid 90s with two friends in an old barely functional Oldsmobile Tornado, which burned more oil than gasoline. We wanted to go to Tierra del Fuego but got stuck in Tijuana. Nevertheless it was a great trip and I am very happy that the analog street photos from that time have survived.

Tijuana film photography

Legends from all over the world knit themselves around Tijuana. “Welcome to Tijuana – Tequila, Sexo y Marijuana” honors them Manu Chao. In every legend there is a grain of truth: In Tijuana there is a lot of tequila, cheap sex and even cheaper drugs. So certainly not a dead city. But “vice” is by no means the only thing that makes Tijuana come alive. Tijuana is a mythical place and in some ways a melting pot of nations. Inspired by the desire for a better life, Tijuana is the city of migrants: those who wanted to go there, those who got stuck there. And then there were three young aimless Germans.

Tijuana film photography

We must have had an odd effect on the residents of Tijuana. In the spirit of the time, we wore raver clothes, had strange hairstyles, we wore sunglasses day and night and I was armed with a large SLR to crown it all. Maybe our strange appearance was one reason why people were so friendly to us. Many waving to us from the moving cars. Many asked us on the street if we needed help.

We didn’t see any of the sights that you can probably find in Tijuana, because we spent most of our time in bars and nightclubs. But that does not matter.

The photos are all taken with the Kodak tri-x 400. I have always particularly liked the film because of the fine grain and the beautiful gray values.

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Parker
    February 8, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    Awesome 5 frames, thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Stephan Wilke
    February 8, 2021 at 9:30 pm

    Hello Mirko Karsch,
    it is a great essay. I have used two Yashicas 230 AF. They are not working anymore. Why I did like them, because they made superb lenses. The Yashica 230 AF and 200 AF were made by Kycorea, the same company who made the Contax cameras. When the Yashica 230 AF and 200 AF came out, they were not ready to put a Contax brand name on an Autofocus camera. And I am sure the same was with the Carl Zeiss on the lenses. They belong to one of the frist generation of an Autofocus camera system after Minolta 9000/7000/5000.

    Best, Stephan Wilke

    • Reply
      Mirko Karsch
      February 8, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Thank you! And you are absolutely right. Kyocera did an incredible job! I got the 24mm (quite rare), the 28mm and the 50mm. All are great.

  • Reply
    Ben Garcia
    February 9, 2021 at 12:50 am

    90’s rave clothes! Good times. Great pictures!

  • Reply
    Bastian Peter
    February 10, 2021 at 4:27 pm

    I disagree about the Yashica 200 AF being so ugly as it sounded. But that might be my personal soft soft bias. Great article, very interesting.

  • Reply
    tbm3fan
    February 13, 2021 at 6:52 am

    TJ sure looks cleaner than I remember it in 1972.

  • Reply
    Rock
    February 14, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    Nice photos. I will check out your website. I have just bought a 230 with the 50mm and 28mm, looking forward to using it. I have always liked Yashica. Cheers, Rock

    • Reply
      Mirko Karsch
      February 14, 2021 at 7:05 pm

      Thank you! Good buy, I hope you enjoy!

      • Reply
        Rock
        February 14, 2021 at 11:21 pm

        Always wanted one when it came out originally, but being a teenager I couldn’t afford it. Now, they are so cheap! I have also bought the 1.6 at converter so can use manual C/Y lenses on it.

        • Reply
          Mirko Karsch
          February 15, 2021 at 5:54 am

          They are definitely cheap. I recently purchased a second body for 14 Euro! I didn’t know about the converter. Thanks for that information!

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