Yashica brings its analog roots to the digital world in hybrid cam

Since film photography’s re-emergence among enthusiast photographers, manufacturers have been trying to mix the best of film and digital into a single camera, with attempts from digital cameras with built-in printers to the film-digital hybrid Fujifilm SQ10. But classic film company Yashica may have just launched the most innovative hybrid camera yet, even as the firm comes out of a 10-year hiatus — the Yashica Digifilm Y35. The Kickstarter campaign is now at over a million dollars in funding, bringing a few upgrades to the original specs.

The Digifilm Y35, teased in September, functions like a film camera with mechanical dials and no LCD screen — and photographers even have to “wind” before shooting. But the Y35 has interchangeable digital guts, or Digifilm. Instead of swapping out film cartridges and paying to get each roll developed, photographers swap out Digifilm cartridges to switch the look of each photo.

The Digifilm idea starts with several different “film” options — an ISO 1600 high speed with high contrast and more light sensitivity for low light or fast action; a black and white ISO 400 with a retro film style; ISO 200 Ultra Fine with a standard color balance; and 120 format for a 6×6 square image. The company says the system allows for developing more Digifilm types in the future.

Yashica doesn’t clarify exactly how the Digifilm works outside of providing “a different photography effect,”  so it’s unclear if each Digifilm might have a sensor inside, if the Digifilm works as a sort of internal filter for a built-in sensor or if the Digifilm applies a digital filter using software. Images are saved to an SD card, not on the Digifilm.

What is clear from the tech specs, however, is that the sensor is only 1/3.2 inches, smaller than most point-and-shoots and even smaller than what’s in some smartphones. That CMOS sensor captures 14-megapixel photos and is paired with an f2, 35mm lens. The lens was upgraded from an f/2.8 as a stretch goal with the funding campaign’s success, which means the camera now includes a brighter lens that also uses an electronic shutter and allows for one-second long exposures. The update also gives the camera a five-stop exposure compensation control.

The Y35 allows photographers to choose between shutter speeds of 1s, 1/30s, 1/60s, 1/250s and 1/500s using the physical controls at the top of the camera. While the camera sports a classic Yashica look, the body is constructed from plastic and made to look metallic. With the lens, the camera measures 4.3 by 2.5 by 1.1 inches.

The Y35’s unusual design offers a similar experience to shooting with film without the ability to review the shot, with manual controls, an optical viewfinder, and even swapping film looks. But, unlike shooting actual film, the photographer ends up with digital files with no need to actually develop a roll of film.

The Yashica Digifilm Y35 is launching on Kickstarter and earned full funding in only four hours, now at over ten times the original goal. Backers can pick up the camera with three Digifilm packs for about $142, or with four film packs for $171. If the remainder of the development process is successful, Yashica expects to start shipping the cameras in April 2018.

Update: Added news of upgraded lens and new campaign details.