The Yashica T4 point-and-shoot needs no introduction. It– and the T4-Super/T5– are legendary for the “character” of their photos. Quite a few years ago, I found one marked $1 at a yard sale, and couldn’t walk away. I had to find out what all the fuss was about.
Then in September 2017, Kate and I were preparing for our first trip to Iceland. We’d heard that autumns there were usually rainy and cold. So we bought foul-weather gear, and needed to test it.
By fortunate coincidence, two weeks before departure, cold drenching rains swept across Massachusetts. Perfect for testing waterproof jackets and pants! And while being drenched, I decided to run a roll of Fujicolor 200 through the T4. Why not?
Not Waterproof? No Problem!
The camera is thought to be a little water-resistant. But since it isn’t a labeled Super Weatherproof model, I lined my jacket pocket with a dry dish cloth. It would absorb any moisture that hit the camera during its brief excursions from my pocket.
The cloth worked beautifully, and the camera passed its ordeal with flying colors. So too did my rain gear– except for the “water-resistant” shoes. Replaced those.
A Well-Known Quirk
The T4 has a well-known quirk that initially bothered me: it always turns on with flash enabled. I never ever use flash, and got used to thrice mashing the camera’s lightning-bolt button at every power-up.
Then I brought the film to the drug store. It had been a while since I’d used their developing, and I didn’t request negatives. So their lab returned a photo CD, which turned out to be fine.
The T-series goes for big bucks in online markets, and I planned to sell the camera. But the instant I saw the digitized images, I knew I’d keep it for future trips. Though shot on a rainy, gray, New England day, the photos were lovely. They exhibited a special glow… even in a deeply shaded close-up of old lichen on wet stone.
NOTE: The Carl Zeiss lens’s subtle vignetting may have contributed to the effect. But flash didn’t. To be safe, I’d covered it with electrical tape.
Five Soggy-Day Frames
Here are my five favorite shots from that water-soaked walk:
TIP: It may be hard to believe, but I really didn’t use flash! Nor did I post-process these images. While shooting, I deliberately positioned myself to take maximum advantage of ambient light reflecting from wet surfaces.
The Yashica T4 may not be waterproof. But it certainly seems to love the rain. And after seeing these photos again, I think it would be grand to have it in Paris, on a drizzly spring or autumn day.
NOTE: During the trip to Iceland, our rigorously tested foul-weather gear went unused. People were strolling Reykjavik streets in T-shirts and shorts. It was the most unusual week of warm, dry, fall weather our guides had seen in a long time. And after we left, cold torrential rains returned.
–Dave Powell is a Westford, Mass. writer and avid amateur photographer.
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