My New Street Camera: The Yashica EZ F521
At least it will be by November! Yashica, known back in the 60s and 70s for their 35mm SLR and rangefinder cameras, have announced what to many looks like a toy camera: The EZ F521.
At about the same size as an iPod (but 5 times thicker), this is a small camera; and with a weight of around 160gr (with 3 AAA batteries), you might not realise it’s in your pocket. The specs might appear unimpressive to those obsessed with numbers, but there is so much more to a camera that cannot be measured. Click on the photo for full specs, but here are the basics:
- 5MP 1/2.5″ CMOS sensor
- 42.5mm-equiv f/3 lens (plastic and glass elements)
- Range: Normal shooting: 1.5m ~ ∞ / Macro: 20 ~ 40cm
- Optical viewfinder
- 2.4 inch LCD
- Shutter speed: 0.5 – 1/2000s
- Metering modes: National (thank you Google Translator!), multisegment, spot
- Exposure compensation: ± 2.0 EV in 1/3 EV steps
- Auto ISO (no info on ISO range available)
- Video capture at 640 x 480 pixels and 30fps
- SD/SDHC up to 8GB
- Menu languages: Japanese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch
The manual focus is interesting. It is not exactly manual as it won’t have progressive focusing judging from the “range” entry in the specs and the icons next to the lens: a mountain and a flower, which generally stand for “landscape” (another way of saying “hyperfocal”) and “macro”, respectively. What I gather is there will be only two focusing ranges: In “normal shooting” the lens will be set to hyperfocal; in fact, the hyperfocal distance for a lens/sensor combo of these characteristics is a smidgen over 3m, so the in-focus area will stretch from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity, in line with the specs of 1.5m to infinity. In “macro” the depth-of-field will be 0.2 – 0.4m.
There is no information about the shooting modes available, so it’s entirely possible that exposure will be completely automatic, although I would appreciate having a manual mode so I can adjust shutter speed and ISO to taste. Given there is exposure compensation and selectable metering modes and white balance, I hold out hope for Tv and M modes.
What about that 5MP sensor? I love it! I bet it’s really cheap to manufacture a 5MP chip these days, and given the optics we’re dealing with, a higher resolution chip doesn’t make sense. Plus, with such a small sensor, keeping pixels this “large” might even give the camera some decent ISO range (i.e., it won’t suck above ISO 160).
The fact that it features a dinky little optical viewfinder in the corner made me happy. C’mon, it has to! If nothing else, it will save energy and make those batteries last longer (as long as there is an option to keep the LCD turned off). Did you guys notice the flash? That made me smile too. Look at it, all cute’n’little, sitting there on top of the lens optical axis,perfectly located to create the meanest red-eye you’ve ever seen.
What will this beauty cost? ¥8,000 in Japan, a whopping $90, £57 or €61 (at today’s exchange rate). Given the amount of fun I can imagine having with one of these on the streets and at parties (where nobody will take you seriously holding this camera), that’s a bargain. This is recession-approved photography, my friends!
I believe the Yashica EZ F521 is intended for the Japanese market only, but I’m sure some bright spark will figure a way to sell them to the rest of the World through eBay. I can’t wait to get my order in. I’ll be sure to let you guys know what I think of it.