It’s small, light, bears a quality name and there is a lot of plastic involved: welcome to the Yashica EZ Digital F521, a camera released in Japan yesterday with a price tag just around US$100 (click here to purchase).
Don’t let the big name “fool you” though, this is an inexpensive digital camera that has more in common with a cellular phone camera (with a different form factor of course) than state-of-the-art digital, just like toy cameras using 120 film don’t do so to achieve high quality medium format. For this reason, the F521 has already been dubbed “Digital Holga” even before its release.
Limitations and shortcomings in your equipment can be good for creativity and there are plenty of those present here. However, given the targeted audience and market segment it would be unfair to point them out as weaknesses on this quirky snapper. Shutter lag, dynamic range, limited configuration options and viewfinder accuracy (mainly parallax) to name just a few aspects. Nonetheless, there is enough potential to charm you anyway, if you like the idea of a toy camera. There does not seem an actual shutter rather than the exposures done by the sensor. Since the lens assembly is fixed onto the body from the front by several screws, there might be some hacking potential by replacing the lens with something else, if you are so inclined.
Please have a look at the brief video review containing further details and sample images with comments. More images can also be found on Flickr and a Flickr group dedicated to the F521 has also been set up.
An alternative, more detailed review can be found here.
The Yashica EZ Digital F521 is available to order in the Japan Exposures Web Shop, shipments are scheduled for next week.
This video is available as a podcast via iTunes.