I bought this camera spontaneously at a garage sale in my neighbourhood because i cannot pass an old camera that lies on a trestle table between dusty old glasses and discarded children's toys. For 10 € it was kind of a bargain too, considering that this camera once must have been a marvel of japanese engineering that bloats out it's most characteristic feature in garish white letters on a black plastic body: "AUTO focus"!
Wow! If that is nothing to shout about! Never again i have to stare at fading little rangefinder patches or try to focus a shady picture on a dim, coarse ground glass. Hazzle-free razor sharp pictures in a jiffy ... go for them!
Those may have been the thoughts of the first owners of cameras like the Yashica AUTO focus. Nowadays, when cameras are boasting hundreds of auto focus sensors this hope seems as old fashioned the handling of a camera like a Barnack Leica from the 1930ies.
Having bought the camera that looked like it could properly funktion once i had provided it with two fresh AA batteries, i decided to use the sunny summer saturday for an impromptu camera test. I went into a drug store, got the batteries and a roll of Fujicolor 200 and brought the Yashica back to life.
Within an hour or two i had taken 36 pictures and i must admit i had fun doing so. The little camera performed as i guess it was supposed to - i pressed the button, the Yashica did the rest. It focussed with a mechanical whirr of it's lens, clicked the shutter and refused to take pictures when it decided the light was too low for a proper exposure. That happened quite often, even on that bright, sunny afternoon. I only had to point the camera at the shades in a narrow side street and a red LED in the finder signalled that the shutter button of the Yashica could not be pressed.
This refusal to work could be overcome with a trick, though. When the camera thought the light was too low for f 2.8 and 1/60 s, the slowest time the shutter of the Yashica is capable of, i could switch on the built in flash and once it's capacitor was fully loaded i was able to take the photograph.
For the auto focus on the other hand the Yashica does not offer a work-around. It is always on and there is no manual way to override it. There is a focus lock, a big red rimmed button on the right side of the lens with which you can focus the camera before actually shooting the picture, but it also depends on the auto focus mechanism which is the only way to bring the lens of the Yashica into a different position than close-up which oddly enough is the distance it defaults to.
And this focusing mechanism unfortunately is not really reliable. About half of the 36 pictures of the roll i shot were grossly out of focus while the others were okay, but there was no way to tell whether the camera had focused properly before i had scanned the developed film.
The photos that were in focus looked okay, and i liked the 38mm focal length and the three-element lustre of the Yashica lens.
Until now i have not endeavoured to find out the reason for the camera's malfunctions and i think the first film i put into it will also be the last i shot with this hot shit of times past. As a photographer that prefers manual focus lenses even on an autofocus champion as sophisticated as the Sony a7RIII i guess i have no real use for a this feature, even if it is as ancient a contraption as in the Yashica AUTO focus.
Yashica Auto Focus