When you think of T2 and T3 in regards to cameras, Contax might be the first that comes to mind. But while lesser known, the Yashica T3 got a cult following over the years. Whats to it?
How I got it
I found my Yashica on a recent flea market trip – after shooting my Contax TVS for a while, I got into compact 35mm AF cameras, providing they have interesting qualities. interestingly enough, I was reading up on alternatives to the sadly quite expensive Contax cameras, and the Yashica T3 was among them. So I did kinda have an idea what I was getting into. It came with an almost dead battery – just enough to flash the no battery warning – so I took a bit of a gamle. It looked OK, small dings and marks but nothing that looked serious. After some haggling, we agreed on 7€ – I guess I can call that another lucky day. And after another 4€ for a new battery on amazon, I was ready to go.
The Yashica is quite interesting – you get the famous „Eagle Eye“ 35/2,8 Carl Zeiss lens, yet everything else on the camera is as bare bones as it gets. You get 3 buttons on top –shutter, self timer, and flash – and a rewind button at the bottom. And a protective slider / power switch for the lens. And that’s it. One unuagle is the extra „waist level finder“, or New Angle SCOPE finder as Yasica called it. Together with a small display that shows your settings and a counter – that’s it. To make sure you can enjoy your T3 regardless the weather conditions, Yashica gave the camera some seals so you can shoot even when its raining with no worries.
This camera might not be a looker, but Yashica certainly did something right when it came to ergonomics. The grooves on the handgrip makes it very easy to hold the camera securely, even with one hand. With larger hands, it can be a bit tricky to get your fingers in the grooves and to the shutter button, but you get used to it quickly.
The N.A. SCOPE will take some time to get used too, but you quickly will learn to love it – I do enjoy waist level finders on medium format cameras, and this is the closest I have seen in a compact camera.
What I like
The most prominent feature of the Yashica T3 is its famous lens – the „Eagle Eye“ Carl Zeiss Tessar 35/2,8 T* – and you do notice in the picture. Sharpness is great across the frame, and specially against backlight, the lens performs great – the T* coating seems to have paid off.
While most of the functions on the Yashica T3 are automatic, the combined lens cover / power switch is fully mechanical – good idea on Yashicas part, you don’t have to wait for any lens to extend and it preserves battery power.
The initially mentioned N.A. SCOPE finder takes some time to get used to, and it is pretty small when held normally, but once you get around its a very welcome addition for photos from the hip or when you want to get close to the ground. This makes it particularly useful for street photographers (even with some noise issues that I mention later) and as some people say, skateboarding photography since it allows you to easily take photos from a very low viewpoint. Or high up, if you hold the camera upside down.
Autofocus, so far, was also good and reliable – I had no issues with misfocused images so far, and it is fairly quick as well, providing you have enough light.
A feature I like, but haven’t used or needed yet, is its weather sealing. The buttons are under a rubber cover, the flash/viewfinder is hidden behind plastic and both the battery and film door have a rubber O-ring protecting it from water. The camera is by no means waterproof, but it should allow you to take it out for a trip even during the strongest rainstorms.
What I dislike
Sounds like a great camera so far? Well, were there is light, there is also shadows. While the Yashica T3 has a lot of great features, many important ones are lacking. You get a shutter button, a self-timer-button and a flash button (and a rewind button at the bottom) – and that’s it. Focus, aperture, shutter speed – even film speed – is all set automatic and not controllable by the user. You could change the DX code on the film can like I had to do for my bulk-loaded film, but that’s about it. While that makes it a very simple to use camera, advanced users will find the lack of controls annoying.
Build quality is a mixed bag, the camera feels solid, and since it was built to be weather resistant, it appears to be well made, but everything is made of plastic and rubber – good for weight saving, but bad for haptik feel.
One problem street photographers might encounter with the T3 is the noise – this is no quiet camera. The shutter itself is nearly silent, focusing is pretty quiet too – but the film winding is atrociously loud!
However, there is a trick. The camera doesn’t wind the film till you release the shutter button. So you can take a sneaky picture, keep your finger on shutter and only after you went away a few meters, you take your finger off – the film rewinds (loudly), but you are already gone by then.
Is the Yashica T3 the awesome camera every says it is? Well, yes and no.
There is no denying it – the Yashica T3 takes good pictures, and the image quality is great. And you get everything in a small and light package, and you can take the camera with you even when its raining. And with its rather unique finder, you can easily get a different view on things.
However, for anything but snapshots, the lack of controls can be quite limiting to the more advanced user. Most of its other limitation its easy to work around, but this one bums me the most.
Overall, the Yashica T3 is maybe the best snapshot camera I have – but for more, I find it lacking some features.
A few favourite photos – you can find the rest of my Yashica T3 photos on flickr.
|Camera name||Yashica T3|
|Camera type||Fixed lens autofocus compact|
|Format||35mm Film (24×36)|
|Lens||Fixed 35/2,8 T* Carl Zeiss|
|Battery||1x 2CR5 Lithium|
|Dimensions||13,2 x 7 x 5,3 cm|
Yashica T3 Manual (external)
Yashica T3 @ camera-wiki.org