Yashica T4 Super D: A Beginners Experience With a Legend
Today we’re doing something a little different in that we’re checking out a plastic point and shoot film camera from 27 years ago, the Yashica T4 Super D.
“Why?” you’re probably asking yourself. Well, thanks to my amazing cousin’s influence I took an interest in collecting vintage cameras, particularly SLRs from the 60s to the 80s. Not for use, but because of how they looked, the weight and sturdiness, and how they felt to operate. Eventually I loaded one with film and actually took it out for a shoot. Modern cameras are a million times more convenient and digital will always gives higher quality images, but the experience is sterile and boring and the results, while technically outstanding, lack the character of film. Shooting a fully manual, old school camera was also tranquil and peaceful, and gave me a sense of clarity that I had not experienced in ages. Life has been a bit chaotic lately and this reprieve, however short-lived, was welcome. I ended up taking out more of my cameras on shoots and expanding the collection (selling off the ones I don’t like or need), eventually dipping my toes into cheap point and shoots.
One of the first I found was the Yashica T4 Super D. I was perusing a local Value Village that had opened up nearby a couple days prior and came across a pile of 90s point and shoots. I almost passed on the T4 because the pricing sticker was covering the brand and model info, and as such I had no idea what type of camera it was. What caught my eye was the Carl Zeiss branding on the lens, and the dense feel of the body. It was also only a few dollars, so no loss if it was a broken, cheap piece of crap. Upon taking it home and removing the price tag, the model and branding was revealed. Oh snap!
At first glance the T4 Super D doesn’t look like anything special, besides having a fantastic lens (T* coating). It has a fixed 35mm focal length, fastest aperture of 3.5, auto everything (more-or-less), fairly slow maximum shutter speed of 1/700th, is weather-sealed, has a film ISO range of 50-3200, and a party piece, the Super Scope. That’s a TLR style waist-level viewfinder, a rarity in a camera of this type. What makes this camera interesting is the history behind it. The T4 was used by famed fashion and portrait photographer Terry Richardson. I’m no Terry, as we will see, and to be honest I had no idea who he was until I found the T4 and did some research on it.
In hand the T4 certainly gives off strong 90’s plastic fantastic vibes, but there’s something a little more substantial to it. It is pretty hefty for such a small camera. The ergonomics are spot on, from the slightly raised thumb rest on the back to the power slider and rubber pad on the front that you comfortably nestle your index and middle fingers on. The shutter button doesn’t need a half press to focus. One depression is all it takes. After that, the camera whirls to life, the lens pulses, and your picture is taken. The only aspects of the body and construction I dislike are the difficult to press flash and timer buttons on top and date selection buttons on the back. The battery door is also a challenge to get into without a coin handy, thanks to the weather sealing.
Shooting the T4 Super D is a refreshingly brainless experience. That might sound exactly like what I dislike about modern digital camera, but here it’s a little different thanks to the mechanical feedback of using film. The T4 also does such a good job handling auto-exposure and focus that you can spend your energy on getting your framing and composition just right. You don’t really need to worry about missing a shot because you took too long to focus, or screwing up a perfect composition with an imperfect exposure. You simply know it’s going to come out right. In my first test roll, only one shot came out slightly out of focus. The rest looked fantastic. For testing I was running Kodak Gold 200 which is inexpensive, easy to locate, and I find the colors vibrant. When combined with a great lens like that installed in the T4 Super D, the results can be wonderful.
Given my usual photographic subjects, headphones at close range, I’m no pro when it comes to snapping my environment. I hope you enjoy the results though!
Thanks for reading!