For more stories like this, please subscribe to The Phoblographer.
I’m not even sure this should be called a review. I’ll admit to a few things. I’m breaking a review format that I’ve hammered into our team for over a decade. Also, I’m incredibly furious with my purchase of the Yashica MF-2 Super DX camera. It’s easy to get hyped up for something that you’ve wanted for a while. That hype sometimes leads to anger and fury. Before I purchased it, I read some reviews online. Unfortunately, there weren’t any that were objective. Long-time readers of this site know that I believe no one is making bad cameras these days. However, they also know that I sometimes rightfully bring out the sledgehammer. In this case, I feel like the sledgehammer isn’t enough.
Background on the Dynamic of the Photo Industry
First off, I want to preface this. Some of you may say I should’ve known better than to buy a camera from a cheap company like Yashica. I believe that’s the wrong mentality. Companies can improve on what they do. I mean, look at Canon! After the 5D Mk II and 7D, they basically went downhill and squeezed all they could out of their mediocre technology. But when the EOS R hit, things improved. The same can be said for other brands like Sony. Remember when they didn’t believe real photographers used Live View? Companies can totally change.
Yashica, though, is a totally different beast. They’re a Chinese company based in Hong Kong that came up via Kickstarter. Their first Yashica Y35 Digital camera was crap. When I moved apartments, I threw mine out. It was junk. But I didn’t know they came out with the Yashica MF-2 Super DX camera. And this is where things get complicated. When they first came on the scene, I tried to develop a symbiotic press relationship with them. This is something I’ve done since the beginning of founding The Phoblographer. Knocking on doors, being friendly, networking, preaching what we do, explaining our transparency, and emphasizing symbiosis is the name of the game. And for most countries scattered across the world, this has been absolutely fine and understandable. But with certain companies, things are shadier. Lots (though not all) of those companies are in China and Russia. “You’ll post a good review” is what some random PR rep would tell us on an Instagram chat. We’d ask them to switch to email, and they’d refuse. Often, that’s where we put our foot down.
But with Yashica, it’s different. They didn’t respond to our inquiries at all. Usually, when a company does this, they’re playing hard to get, or they just don’t care. In this situation, it’s another problem. I’ve often encountered folks and companies in the industry that know we’re incorruptible. So, they’re intimidated by how straightforward and honest we are. I can’t say the same for many of the other photo blogs out there. Some of us decide to run a photography blog and be on the payroll of a major lighting company. Others decide that they will pay their staff pennies and move operations to Puerto Rico to avoid taxes. Another decides to be clickbait. One site decides to copy the clickbait site. And yet others attempt to copy what The Phoblographer is doing and fail awfully. But we’re genuinely not any of those sites. We’re not bought. And in this case, I spent my own money to buy the Yashica MF-2 Super DX.
That is just one of the reasons why I’m putting the sledgehammer to it.
The Yashica MF-2 Super DX Is Absolutely a Piece of Crap. And Not in a Good Way
There are “good crappy cameras” out there. Arguably, Lomography makes some of them. I’d say that those cameras are charming and march to their own drumbeat, if anything. Then some cameras are truly crap. Yashica seems to be reveling in that status like a pig in mud. First off, when you hold the camera, you can expect a super cheap plastic feel. It feels only slightly better than a disposable 35mm camera. And even then, I’d argue that Ilford’s and Fujifilm’s disposable cameras are better. The Yashica MF-2 Super DX is holistically crap in terms of build quality. The flash slides to the left to be activated. Yet somehow, the one on mine didn’t work at all. I even took the camera apart to see if I could fix it. But the camera is so poorly designed that you can’t take off the top plate without breaking the Yashica MF-2 Super DX. Then there’s the film door and how it doesn’t even press the film down fully. Other than that, it feels like every other Yashica plastic point and shoot you get at yard sales.
With that said, it’s nothing compared to the original Yashica’s metal rangefinder cameras. The Yashica GSN Electro 35 is one a gold standard. This site helped put that camera on the map many years ago. Even today, I have a lens from that camera adapted to Sony FE.
The flash is a huge part of the Yashica MF-2 Super DX. It’s arguably essential. After you load it up with batteries, the camera pretty much shoots at one shutter speed and aperture. It will tell you whether or not it needs the flash. That means that in low light, you’ll have to use the flash. That’s fine. It’s how disposable cameras and a few others work. If the flash doesn’t work, you’re out of luck. You’ve got a good doorstop more than anything else. It essentially means that the entire 35mm test roll of film that I shot is useless.
Even if you get one in good working condition, you’ll still be a bit ticked off. This camera goes for around $120 online. But you can get a far better camera for cheaper on the second-hand market. For starters, you can go pick up a Canon QL17 for less money. Seriously, one of the best fixed-lens rangefinders ever made is less money than this crappy camera. Even a Yashica GSN Electro 35 goes for less money than the MF-2 Super DX. Both of those are far better cameras in every way. They have faster lenses and let you actually focus on a subject. The Yashica MF-2 Super DX only lets you shoot whatever is within six feet. It’s stupid.
The Yashica MF-2 Super DX takes anything from ISO 100 to 400 film. It claims to read the DX code, but I’m not really sure how it’s doing this. The DX code reader is pretty perplexing.
Okay, Enough Ranting
I’ve done a lot of ranting. Let me answer some critical questions:
- I can’t recommend that anyone buys the Yashica MF-2 Super DX. Who is it for? Someone with little sense that buys into hype for cheap. If the camera had been fully working, I’d still be mad. Obviously, I’m one of those suckers who bought into the hype. And that’s because everyone my generation who shoots film wants a modern, autofocus, film point-and-shoot camera that does a good job.
- What makes this camera great? Not a lot. It’s like a film compact that didn’t know that it’s a compact camera. It instead, thinks that it’s a disposable camera that can be reloaded.
- What makes this camera awful? It’s shoddily built. What’s more, if the flash doesn’t work, you’re out of luck.
- When would you use this camera? I’d never do so, honestly. I’d rather stick my film into Lomography’s reusable cameras because they’re actually decent. Or I’d put film into a camera that works a whole lot better. I mostly trust only fully mechanical cameras because a whole lot less can go wrong. They’re also easier to fix yourself.
- Where you can you use this camera? You can use it outdoors in bright sunshine without issues. When the viewfinder shows you a red light, you need to pull flash out from the side. The flash is the only variable besides your film’s ISO. And the camera tries to read the film DX code automatically. So you can’t even trick it to overexpose the film by a stop.
- How do you use it? Load the camera up with film. Insert two double A batteries, and advance the film. It should be ready to go. Pull the flash out to the side. You’re supposed to hear it charge up, and a light indicator at the back will tell you when it’s ready.
- Why would you buy the Yashica MF-2 Super DX? Because you hate your life and you want to be ridiculed by your peers. Or you just want to look semi-trendy.
- Why should you not buy the Yashica MF-2 Super DX? Because there are better and more affordable cameras on the market. And it’s taken Yashica too long to get it together at this point.
Clearly, I’m not a fan of the Yashica MF-2 Super DX. And I strongly suggest you don’t buy one.