The Yashica T4 Zoom is a camera that is often only reviewed in comparison to it’s legendary namesake. Most of the reviews compare the lens quality unfavourably, but where the lens isn’t as high quality, for my use it makes a very versatile counterpart to my Contax T2. It also has some features that make it an extremely reliable and capable tool for my uses.
This review is going to be fairly light on technical information, I’m going to be focusing more on how I use the camera and some of the features that I find the most useful. I almost exclusively use compact film cameras for my professional work so my workflow is a bit unorthodox. Hopefully this user review will be of some use to anyone evaluating the camera.
The Yashica T4 Zoom is a 35mm compact camera with a 28mm-70mm, F4.5-F8 lens. If that sounds slow, it’s because it is. This is one of the undesirable aspects most often cited about this camera. While it does indeed limit it’s versatility it actually just means it is best used in bright sunlight with a relatively fast film (disclaimer, I live in Los Angeles so there’s no shortage of that).
The Yashica T4 Zoom – in use
The physical body of the camera is fairly solid, being made of mostly aluminum. It feels good in your hand and handles generally well. The viewfinder zooms with the lens and despite the inevitable parallax error that comes along with that set up, it is fairly accurate for framing.
There are three buttons along the back of the camera, one for flash (which I don’t really use), one for exposure compensation, and one for long exposures. The exposure compensation function works very well but unfortunately resets after each shot. One of the hidden gems (for me at least) can be found by pushing the flash button until you enter Landscape Mode. This mode enables infinity focus, which works very well.
The zoom buttons round out the rear of the camera. A nice thing about the zoom is that it if you press the button instead of holding it, it will zooms in specific, consistent increments (approximately 28mm, 40mm, 50mm, 60mm and 70mm). It’s a nice touch that enables a bit more control over your compositions.
The autofocus is generally reliable but I use it almost exclusively in the “Spot Focus” mode, which can be accessed by holding the power button down an extra few seconds when turning the camera on until an “S” appears on the LCD. It remains active until you turn the camera off. The Spot Focus turns a decent camera into a very capable tool, it focuses on subjects very quickly and is extremely reliable. For my own uses, this feature is really the camera’s best attribute.
My work can best be described as documentary urban landscape so the zoom range of 28mm to 70mm is perfect. I find myself getting the best results in the middle of the extremes, 28mm is usable but the sweet spots for this lens are 40mm-60mm. It is still pretty sharp at 70mm but that is a not a focal length I use very much.
Don’t be confused with what you are purchasing, despite it’s name, it really is nothing like the legendary Yashica T4 or T5 cameras. And while I think that it is a great camera, it in no way compares to it’s non-zoom counterpart in terms of raw lens sharpness and quality. To be fair, that is likely more to do with it being a zoom lens instead of a prime; not that the lens is somehow subpar.
For what it is, in terms of size and versatility I find that the Yashica T4 Zoom is one of the best 35mm compact zooms produced and is more than capable of some really amazing images with that signature Zeiss look. It’s also proven to be a great companion for my Contax T2 when I need a bit more flexibility in a really inconspicuous package.
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