This is a new series of posts where I try to compare a pair of cameras. I'm an avid collector, with over 100 cameras at the moment, and I love different types of shooting experiences. I'm certainly no professional reviewer or anything, so always take my observations with a grain of salt the size of an Alpa. I have very distinct biases and preferences, just like everyone, and therefore, anything I say should be viewed through that lens (heh).
For the record, these are my biases, so far as I'm aware:
- I'm a large American man, which means I have chunky fingers.
- I am left-eye dominant, which will mean that any camera that jams something against my nose will automatically be uncomfortable for me to use.
- I love interesting, quirky, weird cameras.
- I vastly prefer vintage cameras to new, crappy cameras. I'm far more likely to love a 50's cheapie Argus, Agfa, Voigtlander or Kodak than I am any modern Lomography camera.
- Above all else, I'm a value hound. I hate spending more money than I have to, and I especially hate brand-fetishism. If a brand of camera is truly better than another, great. But if it isn't, I'm not spending more just because some community of diehards thinks I should. Yes, Leica-philes, I'm talking to you.
These reviews will be done taking into account the following criteria:
- How comfortable a camera is to shoot.
- How easy it is to use.
- How good the results are.
- How interesting the camera is.
- How much value does it have in today's world?
So, with all that said, let's begin with a very common "cult" camera and a much-less common competitor, the Yashica T4 and the Minolta Freedom Escort.
Basically, these cameras are the same size, occupy the same market space, have roughly the same features, and both have very sharp ~35mm lenses. The Yashica has a pretty legendary Tessar 35mm f/3.5 and the Minolta has a 34mm f/3.5.
Comfort: They are both very easy to handle and comfortable to shoot with. The Yashica is slightly more ergonomic, but the Minolta has slightly better shutter release button positioning. The Yashica has a fantastic on/off, lens door switch, which is miles ahead of the Minolta's dinky on/off button. However, the Minolta is a bit lighter. I'd give a very slight edge to the Yashica in this category.
Ease of Use: They are both very easy to use. They have identical film loading, and everything on both is designed to be as easy to use as possible. The Yashica has a very light trigger, which can be a downside as it means accidentally taking photos when you don't mean to. The Minolta, conversely, has a light half-press focus, but heavy trigger, so it's hard to accidentally waste shots.
They even have the same downside, which is that when you turn the flash off, it won't stay off and instead you have to remember to turn it off every time you turn the camera on. Tie.
Results: Well, see for yourself:
Please excuse the lines and dust on the Yashica scans, I ran these through my Pakon as quickly as possible and haven't spent any time cleaning anything up. None of these scans have anything adjusted, and the fact that they look good at all speaks to how great the Pakon F135 is.
Suffice it to say, I think they're both pretty similar in quality. I think I like the Minolta results a bit more, but that may just be because I was having a better shooting day. Quality wise, they're the same.
Interestingness: They both are equal in terms of being very good point and shoots. The Yashica, of course, has the Terry Richardson connection, which might be interesting to you if you'd like to victimize some women at some point. Conversely, the Minolta is actually a very close cousin of the Leica Mini II, which means you're getting a wolf in sheep's clothing if you're in the bag for Leica. This, by the way, explains why that lens is so good. Edge to the Minolta, IMO, since it's an "unsung hero."
Value: The Yashica T4D that I have routinely goes for $150-200 on Ebay. It's big brother, the T4/T5 Super (which has the so-called "Super Scope") goes for even more, even though it has the same lens and generally the same features.
The last two Minolta Freedom Escort's on Ebay went for $14 and $2, as of this writing. That being said, there aren't that many copies of the Freedom Escort floating around, so you may have to be patient in order to find one. The Minolta is the clear winner here, and it's not even close.
Conclusions: If you're in the market for a good point and shoot with very little control but good quality, get a Minolta Freedom Escort instead of a Yashica T4 (or Olympus Stylus Epic).