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Cult Cameras – The Yashica T4 Super D (Part 1: Intro)

This is a Yashica T4 Super D. It’s plasticky, not very pretty, and was discontinued in 2002. It doesn’t have a zoom lens, an LCD screen on the back, or come with built in Wifi. It uses one non-rechargeable CR123 camera battery, shoots 35mm film, and it is, for all intents and purposes, obsolete.  Oh yeah, it averages over $200 used.

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Much like the Holga or the Diana F+, this plastic point & shoot has a garnered quite the cult following. Cult following means high demand and high resale prices. Lomography has done an excellent job promoting lo-fi photography and toy cameras to the youth market. $5 plastic cameras are sold new for $50 and they have been just raking in the dough. But this Yashica’s got a little bit more substance than that.

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The T4 Super D comes with an superb 35mm f/3.5 Zeiss T* four-element Tessar lens. It was the go-to P&S camera for professional photographers when being “professional” still meant something in the film days. Most importantly, the cult following exists because Terry Richardson used a Yashica T4 Super D.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKQDsGvVJ9M?rel=0&w=640&h=360]

On top of the camera is a Super Scope. It’s a waste-level view finder that helps you frame your subject from a low angle. This is only available on the T4 Super D (called T5 in some markets) and the T3, but on the regular T4 (weird).

Notice the Centrum bottle being projected through the Super Scope
Notice the Centrum bottle being projected through the Super Scope

It’s remarkably simple, yet well built. It’s all plastic, but the seams are airtight, and the camera is weatherproof. It feels heavier than it looks, and there are no creaks associated with a regular plastic cameras.

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So in keeping with our Terry Richardson theme this month and to complete Part 3 of our “How to Shoot like Terry Richardson” series, I will be shooting this Yashica with a variety of negative and slide film over the next few weeks, in sunny California no less. An in-depth analysis of his style just wouldn’t be complete without this camera. Part 2 of this series on the Yashica T4 will compare this film camera to today’s digital counterpart. Stay tuned.