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Gear Guy

What's a robust, lightweight camera for the outdoors?

I've read your praise for the Yashica T4 point-and-shoot camera and was attempting to locate a refurbished unit on the web, when, lo and behold, up pops the new Yashica T4 Zoom with a Carl Zeiss Lens (28mm to 70mm). In the wilderness, I've always managed to catch more pictures than fish, and would appreciate your thoughts on a lightweight point-and-shoot for my arduous outdoor adventures. Scott Maple Valley, Washington

A: Well, I'm still ticked off at Yashica for killing the T4. So WHAT if it didn't have a zoom lens? Its 35mm Zeiss lens was fast, tack-sharp, and easy to use—a true point-and-shoot, not a point-and-zoom-in-then-out-and-oh-darn-Bigfoot-just-ran-away.

So now there's a new T4 out, street price around $200 (unlike most other things in the world, the "suggested retail price" of cameras has nothing to do with what people actually sell them for). I like to think Yashica's pitch that the camera is back "by popular demand" is due to the stink I made about it, but who knows. In any event, the new T4 does indeed have a 28mm to 70mm Zeiss zoom lens. The good news is that's a very useful zoom length, from true wide angle (28mm is approximately the field of view of a normal human) to short telephoto/portrait length. The bad news is that to achieve this the lens has a much smaller aperture, meaning the new T4 is much less suitable for dim light or action photography. Rats.

But, as point-and-shoots go, it still has better specs than nearly every other model on the market, so I will hereby declare it my new favorite point-and-shoot—Yashica better appreciate that endorsement and not screw things up again. Go, buy, shoot.

My final word on all this? Film rules! Digital be damned!!

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