Yashica T2: Point-and-shoot and a Zeiss lens

Yashica T2 front view
A front view of the Yashica T2. (Daniel J. Schneider)

The Yashica T2 (and T3, T4, and T5) point-and-shoot 35mm cameras are still highly desirable as lightweight pocket cameras. This is due in no small part to their Zeiss lenses.

I picked up a little T2 at a thrift store on a whim with the intent of testing it and turning it around quickly. To that end I found a battery for it on the way home (not cheap) and slapped a roll of Ilford FP4 in the back.

I shot about 22 frames and suddenly the camera decided to rewind the film. It made some popping and grinding noises but it stopped winding after a minute, so I opened the back. The film had only rewound a few frames and the sprocket holes were all torn up. I was unhappy.

A week later I decided to try it again, only this time I wasn’t wasting FP4. I tossed in a roll of Kodak Gold 200 that expired in 1999 and probably cost me less than a dollar. I had learned something from that earlier failure, though.

Yashica T2 plant
A houseplant with window blinds. You can see the blinds are very sharp, and the light from the flash is great for an indoor portrait. (Daniel J. Schneider)

This thing is pretty picky about how you load it. Inside the film bay there is a label that warns you to lay the film leader flat, and exactly up to a red mark in the middle of the take-up spool — no shorter and no longer. I hadn’t been so careful the first time, and I suspect that’s why it failed to advance and rewind the film completely and correctly.

After following the instructions (a last resort, I promise) everything worked fine. I shot about a dozen pictures, without really even looking through the viewfinder or even giving the camera time to focus, and hit the rewind button. It rewound perfectly without any wacky noises, and when I opened the back the film was all neatly inside the cartridge.

I can say this: the T2 has some really great features for a little point-and-shoot. Besides the beautiful Carl Zeiss 35mm f/3.5 Tessar lens, you have plenty of control over the flash and focus.

On the top left you’ve got two flash buttons, one that disables the flash (“no-flash”) and one that forces it (“daylight flash”). The focus lock allows you to focus by holding the shutter button about halfway down while aiming the focus mark in the viewfinder at the object you want in focus and then recomposing without letting go before fully depressing the button.

Dog in the yard
Here you can see how sharp that Zeiss lens really is, and that the automatic exposure works very well. (Daniel J. Schneider)

When the camera is turned off, the lens is protected by a smoked plastic cover. When you turn the camera on, the cover retracts almost silently. Focusing is also silent. I had a pretty good time exploring this thing and I can see why the Zeiss-lensed Yashica PASs are still so popular.

I should’ve spent more time on the test frames. Clearly this thing can focus and make really nice, sharp pictures. The lighting with the built-in flash is surprisingly even, and more surprisingly, not too garish. The exposures really are superb.

I’ve got to say, I don’t half mind this little camera. It’s sharp, clear, easy-to-use, lightweight and feels pretty well made, even for being 99.44% plastic. Here are a few more example shots:

Surprised dog
The dog was pretty surprised when the flash went off. I should’ve let the camera focus another half a second. (Daniel J. Schneider)
Blurred Hobbed
My big crochet Hobbes, a gift from Kate, is very out-of-focus. But lit well. Blame the color shift on the old film. (Daniel J. Schneider)
In the yard
A quick snap of the yard in our complex. The film is old and a little purple-shifted, but the exposure and focus are really on. (Daniel J. Schneider)
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Yashica T2 camera
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