Yashica Y35 "digiFilm" camera launches on Kickstarter

Yashica is a name that will immediately be familiar to seasoned photographers, but the company has been largely dormant in the digital era. But now, following a few rumblings about an upcoming model, the company has confirmed an interesting new camera that fuses digital and analogue principles.

The Yashica Y35, which currently only exists as a Kickstarter project, promises to "recapture the joy and meaning of analogue-photography but eliminating the time and expense required for film development."

Although it's not to be confused with the Yashica Electro 35 film camera, the model appears to use the design principle of that camera, namely electronic shutter control. In fact, as the campaign explains, the Electro 35 was the first camera in the world to be designed in this manner. 

Two AA batteries occupy much of the chamber

The Yashica Y35 employs a 14MP, 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor, which, on paper, is even smaller than those inside the most basic digital compact cameras currently available. Nevertheless, with the new digiFilm system (explained below), Yashica is clearly targeting the model towards those less concerned with up-to-date technology and more with the shooting experience itself.

The camera features a glass lens with an aperture of f/2.8, and five selectable shutter speeds, namely 1s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/250s, 1/500s. Despite this restriction, Yashica claims that the camera will still capture perfectly exposed images.

The model uses new digiFilm cartridges

Much like with standard film emulsion, the only way to change film speed – and presumably things like colour and image quality options – is to change the DigiFilm itself. 

This "film", which appears like an APS cartridge and needs to be wound with a traditional winder, will be available in four different flavours at launch. These are ISO 1600 High Speed, ISO 400 Black & White, a 6x6 120 format and ISO 200 Ultra Fine, but the company has promised that more will be on the way.

Although the camera has been designed with an optical viewfinder for composition, there is no LCD screen, nor a delete button. As Yashica explains, "the world seen from the viewfinder of Y35, might be a little slower, a little prettier, transporting us back to a time when we all pay a little bit more attention, and causing us to care each shot before clicking the shutter – because it must solid the first tie or the moment is lost." (sic)

All images are stored on SD-format memory cards, although a micro USB port also allows for data to be transferred. The camera is also powered by two AA batteries, rather than lithium-ion types more common to today's models.

Yashica Y35 specs

  • 14MP, 1/3.2-inch CMOS sensor 
  • 35mm f/2.8 lens
  • Built-in viewfinder
  • Minimum focusing distance of 1m (~3 feet) to infinity
  • Five selectable shutter speeds (1s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/250s, 1/500s)
  • SD card storage (Wi-Fi card compatible)
  • Micro USB connectivity
  • Tripod mount
  • 2x AA batteries
  • 100x64x28mm (body only); with lens and switch: 110x70x55mm

Yashica Y35 release date and price

As the model's development is subject to a successful Kickstarter campaign, there's every chance that it won't quite make it to market as planned. That said, with over a quarter of the target goal already met, and over a month to go until the campaign ends, the outlook certainly seems rosy.

Those pledging $HK968 ($US124) during the campaign will receive a camera body together with an ISO 200 film and postcard. Yashica states that this represents a 35% discount on the actual price, which places it closer to HK$1489 (US$190).

Those wanting to take full advantage of the new system and get additional films with their body can splash out on a range of pricier packages, with the most costly being a Family Package, coming in at HK$3,848 (US$493).

Should the launch be successful, Yashica reckons that first pledgers will receive their new toy in April 2018.

For more details, head over to the Kickstarter page.