YASHICA DigiFilm: A revolutionary innovation or a total let-down?

The Yashica Y35
The Yashica Y35

When I first heard about the upcoming Kickstarter campaign about the release of a ‘digital film camera’ from the dormant camera maker Yashica I was excited and intrigued to say the least. All manner of ideas and questions started racing through my mind amounting to high expectations of something revolutionary – merging the digital and analogue worlds together. After finally viewing the details on Yashica’s Y35 Kickstarter page; I was left somewhat deflated.

The Yashica Y35 and the DigiFilm cartridges
The Yashica Y35 and the DigiFilm cartridges

The Yashica Y35 DigiFilm camera looks the part – housed in a rangefinder style body; it has a film winder and a 14 megapixel digital CMOS sensor – sound exciting? Well unfortunately not – Yashica have come up with the novel idea of introducing cartridges that look like 35mm film, which you put into the camera to take digital photos using what is essentially a Lightroom preset. If you want a different look or ISO you change the cartridge – and you have 4 to choose from – ISO 1600 High Speed, Black & White (ISO 400), ISO 200 Ultra Fine (standard color photos), and 120 Format (6×6 and ISO 200).

Maybe i’m going mad but this all seems very bizarre and somewhat gimmicky. Ok – the camera feels  like a film camera – you even have to advance the ‘film’, but really what is the point in it all when you can take pictures on a much superior camera and add your own presets or film simulation. Photographers who are feeling nostalgic about the film days are surely just going to pickup an old 35mm rather than waste their time with this hybrid.

A sample image
A sample image

The camera is limited to five shutter speeds (1s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/250s, 1/500s) which to me is a strange restriction Yashica has imposed – limiting the photographer. The camera has a built-in viewfinder and a minimum focusing distance of 3 feet. The camera has no LCD screen which I wouldn’t of expected nor want on a camera trying to mimic a rangefinder.

The Kickstarter campaign is well on it’s way to achieving its goal of HK$800,000 and Yahshica hopes to start shipping out units in April 2018. I certainly won’t be backing the campaign but I will be keeping an eye open in April to see if the Yashica Y35 lives up to all the hype.

You can view the Kickstarter campaign here.


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