Gear Guy

What’s your favorite camera?

Oh Being of All Gear Wisdom, Following your sage advice, I've been looking for a Yashica T4 point-and-shoot to replace my partner's camera, which bit the Grand Canyon's dust on our last trip there. It appears that Yashica no longer makes the T4. Nor do they seem to have a successor model. What's your current recommendation for either a fixed or zoom lens 35mm P&S? Being a photographic troglodyte, no digital cameras allowed. Rob Brading Fairview, Oregon

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Yes, I’m still lamenting the demise of the Yashica T4, simply the best point and shoot camera made for under $500. But, it was a niche product-most people couldn’t get beyond the fact it lacked a zoom lens, not realizing that low-cost zoom lenses require an enormous compromise in lens quality. I’d rather have the T4’s tack-sharp 35mm lens than any number of crummy 38-105 zooms.

Still, don’t despair. The T4 pops up in a variety of places. Some retail camera stores even still stock the leftover. Try asking around at camera stores in Portland to see if someone has a T4 stuck away someplace. And there’s always eBay. More than a dozen T4’s are listed there today-plus some T5’s, which is identical but is the so-called “gray market” version. You might shop around on the auction site. But don’t pay more than $160.

Otherwise, there really aren’t any reasonably priced point-and-shoots that make my bunnies hop. Pentax’s IQ Zoom 95WR is a pretty good one ($180). It has a decent zoom lens, a body that fits the hand well, and a water-resistant feature. It even floats…allegedly. There are dozens of other point-and-shoots in the $200 to $300 price range; they’re pretty much interchangeable. To get a “real” camera, something I considered the T4 to be, you now have to go above $500, which is ridiculous. The Contax T3 is lovely, but $700. Nikon has deep-sixed its 35Ti, which was a very funky little camera, temperamental but with a superb lens, but you can also find them on eBay.

Anyway, good luck!

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