Fight of the Century? – Minolta vs Yashica

Minolta vs Yashica

Ok, let’s admit it. I’m going to piss off a lot of photographers. Well, maybe not a lot,….but certainly everyone who invested $400+ in a Yashica T4. Yes, the lens is very sharp. But it’s still a plastic film point and shoot with extensive vignetting. (which I find ‘cool’,…but you certainly don’t buy lenses for your SLR to do that) And while I originally bought my Contax G1 and T2 back in 2002, (the T2 was $190 back then), and do find them well worth that price,…just for the titanium feel alone,…I wouldn’t now buy a T2 for $800-1000. After all, they are “point and shoots”.

Alas, I found a Minolta Freedom 110 (zoom) in a local Goodwill. Certainly plastic,….and certainly a zoom. However, for an $8 camera,….what the hell. First let me say,…this camera has the tiniest viewfinder I’ve ever seen. Ever,…what were you thinking Minolta? But the next surprise was good. After receiving back an exposed roll of Fuji Superia 200,…..uhhh,…I was blown away! Not being a Minolta fan,….that couldn’t be right. Right?

 

Minolta Freedom vs Yashica T4 Point and Shoot Cameras
© Ren Hang and © Terry Richardson

 

To My Surprise

So, since I had no manual, I thought it would be time to research exactly what this $8 plastic fantastic was exactly. Was this a fluke? Is it really possible for an $8 ‘zoom’ camera to be sharper and have as much contrast as a Contax T2? (I don’t have a Yashica T4,….I had to borrow one for the last review)

What did I find out? I learned that the greatly admired artist, Ren Hang, did most of his outside work with a Minolta X-700. But he used a Minolta Freedom Zoom 110 for almost ALL of his inside work! (I didn’t know that, and have since verified it, seeing it in his hands while working) Is his work as sharp as the old T4 Terry images? Yes. Does that reinforce the old adage,…”it’s the photographer, not the equipment”? Well, sure. And does that kill the T4 legend? Not really. Legends are legends. And to some extent, they’re always based on fact. Yashica T4/5’s are awesome cameras. Are they 10x as awesome as a crappy Minolta P&S? I don’t know about that. However, it does go to show that if your ideas are really original, you don’t have to wait and save up for the perceived “good stuff”. Just get an old Minolta, Pentax,….or even an Agfa p&s. And astound us. 😁

First, let’s say what the the Yashica has that the Minolta does not. On the Supers and T5’s, a very cool chimney viewfinder. And the “Zeiss T* coating” licensed to Kyocera by Zeiss. Focal length: Yashica – 35mm wide vs. Minolta (unzoomed) – 37.5mm. Aperture: Yashica – f/3.5 vs Minolta – f/2.8? Not much there.

Only Major Advantage – Viewfinder

When it comes to the viewfinder, the Yashica definitely wins. Even without the “Superscope”. Size wise, they’re the same. Results? Look at old TR stuff against any inside ‘white wall’ RH stuff. Ren Hang wins every time. But, to be honest, that’s a very subjective opinion. And I’m still whining about that atrocious Minolta viewfinder.

Then there is the Rokkor zoom lens vs fixed Tessar lens? Sorry. I can’t tell the difference. I mostly use primes myself. But I do have one zoom that’s as good as my primes; The old Nikon 17-35mm. So zooms can be good. The only caveat I would give is,…I’m not a pixel peeper. It either looks sharp and saturated with a good amount of micro-contrast,…or it doesn’t.

In Essence;

  • Ease of use: Same
  • Image results: Same
  • Today’s prices: Great difference
  • Size: Same
  • Weight: About same
  • Film Loading: Same
  • Who they were originally marketed to: Same

Yashica has an On/Off on the lens door. (both have lens doors) Minolta has a regular On/Off switch. The Minolta appears to be metal in the front, but it still is lighter than the Yashica. (I’m not a fan of super light cameras,…YMMV) As far as Ren Hang was concerned, (despite his European exhibits and worldwide acclaim, he was jailed in China a few times before his suicide),….remember, he may have actually wanted a Contax,….or? But the average Chinese male in the urban centers earns about $1,195 USD per month. With the cost of living, that makes a Minolta X-700 a pretty expensive camera.

 

Minolta Freedom vs Yashica T4 Point and Shoot Cameras
Ren Hang shortly before his death. It appears someone, (probably from the West), gave Ren a Contax T3.

 

Will I tell you both cameras are the same? No. But, the Minolta does; Let you use either expensive DL223A batteries or just Alkaline, has matching flash recycle times to the Yashica, is DX coded from 25-1600, auto loads, auto advances and auto rewinds, has AE lock, Fill Flash and more. I assume the Minolta Freedom 90, 115, 130, etc., are all the same. (especially as there is only one manual for all)

Hmmm,… what’s it going to be? Drop the big bucks and follow the masses,….or go down a road less traveled? Either way is valid. But for complete disclosure,….I make my own espresso and don’t ever go to Starbucks. So, what do I know.

 

 

 

 

 

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