After its widely condemned Y35, the Yashica brand is re-awakening once more to bring us the MF-1, a camera in the emerging category of almost-disposable cameras. It features a 31mm f/11 lens that cannot be focused (but its depth of field should be sufficient), and is restricted to a 1/120 of a second shutter speed. The project was launched on Kickstarter and seems to now be available for general retail.
It is intended to be used with ISO 400 film, and a flash bulb, rated for 3000 actuations, is built in to help meet the exposure at a range of 1 to 3 meters (1 meter is the minimum focus). It’s driven by a single AA battery that is included in the box. The flash causes a pretty strong vignette. With those specs, it’s obviously not much of a camera for direct sunlight on sunny days, although you may get decent results under shade.
However, Yashica has optimistically released three ISO 400 films along with it – one simply called Yashica 400, which seems to be a reasonably good colour negative film which Yashica says is intended for portraits, a limited edition “Golden 80s” colour negative film whose output looks more bleak than golden, and the punchy Yashica 400 Black & White negative film, which I’m not too worried about as black and white films always seem to find their audience.
Somewhat unhelpfully, the camera’s name is the same as a viewfinder camera that Yashica made in 1979 with a 38mm/2.8 lens, automatic exposure and flash.
The camera itself is priced at HK$278 (US$35.50), putting it in exactly the same ballpark as Ilford’s Harman camera. The Harman camera, at 2 Pounds more than the converted MF-1 price, includes two rolls of 36 exposure Kentmere Pan 400 black and white film and, like the MF-1, also includes a strap. Another similar camera, and one it may have been modelled on, is the Lomography Simple Use camera, which aside from looking very similar to the MF-1, can be bought preloaded with either “Color Negative”, “Black and White”, or “Lomochrome Purple” – the eccentric option, much like “Golden 80s”.
The Yashica films are 24 exposures each, and priced HKD$55 (US$7) for the normal colour negative film Yashica 400, HKD$65 (US$8.31) for the moody limited edition Yashica 400 Golden 80s, and HKD$60 (US$7.67) for the black and white film, Yashica 400 Black & White.
You can read a more extensive review of the camera here.