Where do I begin? Well, for starters I purchased this Yashica™ Auto Focus Motor II on eBay for $18 from a buyer who didn’t indicate if it worked or not. I just figured it looked cool and would make for a nice paper-weight on my desk but a part of me was also hoping that this old girl still had some air in her lungs. Made in the early 80’s and was way ahead of its time by being the first motorized compact on the market, I prepared myself for a piece of workspace decor. Upon its arrival I instantly popped in two fresh AA batteries to which there was no pulse. I figured it was hopeless to try to resurrect it since I’m not a camera technician but I did remember a guy at a flea market once telling me to always check battery terminals and to clean them out when dealing with old cameras. I got a wet-wipe and jammed it into the battery compartment with a screwdriver and twisted it around until I could see the corrosion fading and the shiny silver prongs glistening like a nickel in the sun (I just learned that you should use vinegar for this trick). Again, I know nothing about working on cameras and I’m about as delicate in the process as a drunk person running through a rose garden. However, it worked. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I could be a rocket engineer after this feat or surely map out the quantum physics that would lead us as a society into a carbon-neutural global travel initiative. I loaded in a roll of expired Fuji™ Superia Xtra 400 from 2001 that I found at a Goodwill and figured I would take her for a spin.
As you can see from the photos above, the camera actually performed way better than expected. Granted, it’s very temperamental and the auto focus is ‘on the spectrum’ and there was a few times that I had to turn it off and on again to get the power jump-started but for a camera that’s around forty years old, I would say it was worth every cent of the $18 price tag. It has a very charming disposable camera vibe that a lot of people really like but encapsulated in a fun, easy to use, hefty body. My biggest issues with it was the focusing and the flash recycling time as I like to shoot close and fast. After getting the scans back from Dark Room Film Lab I realized that a lot of frames were definitely outside of its focusing range.
Would I recommend you buying one? That depends on what type of look you’re trying to obtain in your photos. If you want snapshot images that aren’t super sharp and are somewhat flat but still embody vintage looking fashion and party photos, then yes this is your shooter for sure. If you can find one in working condition for under $20, I say grab it because I’ve read stories of people picking these up at thrift stores for $5 and selling them for over $100 on eBay. I’ll break down my pros and cons below.
- Motorized film advance
- Takes AA batteries
- Decent lens
- Captures vibey vintage style photos
- Manual ISO (you can push the film)
- Decent flash
- Very easy to use
- Great beginner camera
- Great disposable upgrade
- View finder takes getting used to
- Not the most comfortable in hand
- Focusing range takes getting used to
- Like your favorite uncle, it’s old and very temperamental
- The clamshell and ergonomics makes it easy to get your fingers in the frame (last photo)
- Flash recycling time is a bit slow (but so will mine be when I’m over forty)
- Doesn’t auto rewind after the last frame (this technology came later)
So there you have it, the first round of First Roll™ and there’s tons more coming. As most of you can tell from my Instagram stories and blog posts lately, I’ve been on a buying frenzy in search of my own personal favorite point and shoot that isn’t in the cool kids, cult classic, club.
Thank you @_Jtchapps for letting me test this out on you.