It’s been an interesting time for analogue photography recently. There has been success, with Ektachrome being re-released by Kodak and finally hitting shelves over here in the UK. The Chroma 4×5 camera has been reaching its backers (including me, yay!) after a successful Kickstarter campaign, to universal glee. New film stocks are emerging all the time, from small boutique brands. It can seem like film photography is getting into its stride again… and then, there came the Yashica Y35.
The promo video on Kickstarter was slick, polished… if a bit vague about what the product actually looked like. The Kickstarter bumf promised rolls of “digifilm”, that, when inserted into the back of a digital camera, would simulate the look of film. This was the first red flag for many people – why go to the trouble of inserting a roll of fake film that simulates real film, when you could just… use a film camera in the first place? Add to that the fact that there was no rear screen, and that it took 2 AA batteries, and it seemed like a bit of a joke at the time. However, it surpassed its funding goal, and we all sat around to see what would eventually come of it.
The initial reviews have not been kind. The cameras arriving with their backers have been described as plasticky, cheap, and faulty in some very interesting ways. The shutter button sometimes turns the camera off completely, and many users report that the digifilm cartridges don’t do what they say they do – a black and white cartridge will product colour images, for example.
This is a real shame, but it does highlight the risks with backing a Kickstarter. There are so many photography-based campaigns around, it’s important to really weigh up the pros and cons, and see if what’s being promised is a little too good to be true. I hope Yashica (or the company who have bought the name in order to sell these cheap pieces of crap) can salvage something for their backers, but I don’t hold out much hope.
The second fail of the week might be a little more controversial – Leica have just released the M10-D, a digital camera with, seemingly, few of the benefits inherent to shooting digitally. No screen on the back, for starters. I don’t know about you, but being able to immediately see what I’ve just shot is one of the only benefits of digital over film. Ooh, but does it have a load of clever modes, enabling you to take creative shots in difficult conditions? No. How about the ability to shoot video? Also no.
So what are you getting for your $7,999? A full-frame sensor, sure. The ability to use lots of well-regarded Leica glass, ok. The barely-concealed fanboy boners that inevitably come from toting around something with a red spot on it, of course. But that’s about it – even the app, intended to pair your M10-D with your phone, for reviewing photos over wifi, is apparently clunky to use, and drains the battery. Don’t even get me started on the fake film advance lever – it does nothing. Nothing at all. Leica have attempted to pass it off as a “thumb rest”, but I don’t think they’re fooling anyone with that.
If I had just shy of $8,000 to spend on a digital camera, I’d be heading for the Pentax K1 MkII – a full-frame DSLR with weather-sealing. GPS functionality, and a whole host of useful features that make it sound like the perfect outdoor digital camera. All my vintage lenses would fit the K-mount, and the luxury of a rear screen, too. I’d also have around $6,000 in change – think how many rolls of Ektachrome that would buy me? Or, I could jump on the “new cameras that look like old ones” bandwagon, and pick up any of the Olympus or Fujifilm cameras released in the last couple of years – two brands that have been proving over and over, that we don’t just want gear that looks good, we want gear that performs well too.