A resurgence in analog photography has already brought once-dead lenses back to life for pairing with digital sensors, like the options from Meyer-Optik, Glaukar and Voigtlander — and now one more company is joining the ranks of the re-animated. Yashica, a film camera company based in Japan that was actively producing cameras until 2003, recently launched a new website, a teaser video — and a smartphone camera lens.
A teaser video showing a girl using a film camera (easily identifiable by a back without a screen) launched earlier this summer, and now the Yashica website invites photo fans to “peep into our upcoming chapter” by subscribing to an email list. A second teaser video launched September 21, clarified that a camera is coming to Kickstarter in October.
While early details were slim, the company has now launched a 2-in-1 universal smartphone lens. The second teaser, however, suggests Yashica has more products up its sleeve in the form of a camera.
The lens uses a clip-on style that allows the camera to fit smartphones from several different brands with a resolution of 20 megapixels or less. The lens kit gives smartphone photographers a 110-degree wide angle lens with a 15x magnification macro lens. The company says that the lens is designed to eliminate the dark corners and blurry edges commonly associated with smartphone add-on lenses. Image quality, the revived Yashica says, is crisp and colorful with HD optical glass.
The website lists the lens for HK$368 — which roughly translates to about $50. The lens includes a clip bag that also doubles as a lens cloth and ships in a box featuring one of Yashica’s iconic twin reflex cameras.
The lens is only a Yashica in the way that the Kodak Ektra smartphone is a Kodak — branding rights have been sold, so the original Yashica isn’t actually designing and making the lens. After an acquisition, Yashica became part of the Konica Minolta company. The company then sold the trademark rights to the MF Jebsen Group in 2008. Without any company history information coming directly from Yashica, it’s unclear if the same group still holds those trademark rights — but the Jebsen Group is based in Hong Kong, which is also the country whose currency the new lens is listing in.
Yashica’s comeback is part of a larger trend toward bringing back vintage brands, in some cases by pairing classic lenses with digital cameras and in others by bringing back film cameras. Polaroid recently announced a remake of an instant film camera after sticking to digital cameras with built-in printers for several years.
Updated on Sept. 25 to include the second teaser video that says a camera is coming to Kickstarter in October.
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