Mystery Camera: The Yashica EZ-F521

Good morning you beautiful awesome hardcore, war-torn camera geeks! We haven’t had one of these “mystery cameras” in a while so today I present you with another Mystery Camera for your Flashback Friday and the camera we have today is the Yashica EZ-F521. Now what is a Yashica EZ-F521?! 😎😍😎📸👍🏻

INTRODUCTION

The Yashica EZ-F521 is a five megapixel point and shoot digital camera introduced in 2009. While it bears the “Yashica” brand name, this is NOT the Yashica of yore. This camera was manufactured in China apparently by a company in Hong Kong that had bought the rights to use the Yashica name after Kyocera closed out the Contax/Yashica brand in 2005.

SPECS

The Yashica EZ-F521 was sold as a 5mp digital camera although some I’ve read people saying the camera is closer to 3 or 4 megapixels. There is a 12mp interpolated resolution mode within its menu. The sensor is said to be a 1/2.5 inch sensor.

The lens is a 42.5mm fixed plastic lens. The aperture appears to be either f/2.8 or f/3.2 and nothing else. There is no way to focus the camera other than the infinity/macro setting which is done by twisting the lens to either one of those positions. Shutter speed range is unknown. I found something on the web that says 1/2 sec to 1/2000th but I’ve read others saying they never hit 1/1000th on this camera.

In any event you really don’t have much control over this as the camera chooses the shutter speed as well as the aperture. The ISO appears to be fixed at ISO 100. There is a low resolution 640/480 VGA video mode which can be shot at 30/15fps.

There is also a hidden RAW mode which can be accessed through a sequence of buttons and dials. I forgot what it is now, but I will update this article later to include it. But don’t get too excited though. RAW on a camera like this is overkill. Just sayin’! 🙂

YOUTUBE VIDEO

For those of you who prefer a more “dynamic” experience, here it is! 🙂

PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS AND THOUGHTS ON THE YASHICA EZ F521

This camera caused a bit of a buzz on internet photo forums back in 2009 and as a former lurker in those forums, I caught the bug too!

Now despite the horribly limiting specs, with this camera I must admit I was very shallow lol and I was probably most attracted by that eye-catching orange/reddish coating on the fixed lens which in hindsight looks like something from a security camera. I admit, I’m a sucker for a pretty face. Well, in this case, maybe not a pretty face but a strange and interesting face!

I bought the camera back in 2009 or 2010 from a cool guy named Dirk at a site called JapanExposures and yes it came all the way from Japan. I think I paid less than $100 for it.

In hindsight, I really wonder what attracted so many people to this camera back in 2009. I mean, the specs are really uninspiring, the camera body and lens are plastic and there’s not much in the way of control (at least outwardly).

It was probably, in addition to that luscious orange tinted lens, it was probably due to the fact that someone dubbed it the “Digital Holga” that gave the camera its appeal. I’ve seen some great work by Holga film camera users though I myself had never really been a huge Holga/Lomography fan. I mean, soft fuzzy images, vignetting, blurry images can be “artistic” but it’s generally not my thing.

That said, I get it. I know what the appeal of Holga is to people. It offers an alternate reality for people who tire of perfectly sharp, perfectly exposed images. It is a different kind of photographic art. Now even if you’re not a Holga/Lomography fan but you shoot film then you have more in common with the Holga crowd than you might think.

Why do you continue to shoot film with all its inherent grain, its limiting ISO range, its susceptibility to dust, scratches when you have digital cameras today that can blow up sharp images to the size of the side of a large building? It’s because you want something different from the razor sharp images you get from these digital cameras. You want film grain, grit, and imperfections to give your images some personality, etc, etc. Get it now?

When I first got the camera, I thought it was the coolest thing! It was light, plasticky, but at the same time small and pretty cute! No I wasn’t disappointed because I already knew what it was supposed to be. I did not have any expectations of it being a high quality camera and true to form, it was/is not.

This camera is considered to be a toy camera. What is a toy camera? According to Wikipedia: “Within the field of photography, a toy camera is a simple, inexpensive film camera. Despite the name, they are in fact always fully functional and capable of taking photographs, though with optical abberations due to the limitations of the simple lenses.”

This can apply to the Yashica EZ F521 with the exception of “film camera” as it is not a film camera but a digital camera, and even that might be too high a description especially if you’re thinking of today’s digital cameras. It’s almost reminiscent of the early 2mp digicams or early cell phone cameras.

IMAGE QUALITY

The Yashica EZ F521 takes interesting images! “Interesting” is subjective and for me, what I liked about it is an interesting color palette, fun filters, and surprisingly sharp images. Take a look at my YouTube video to see sample images of some of the in camera effects.

Some people have complained that the plastic lens produced images “too sharp” to be Holga-esque but I say you can always take a sharp image and soften it, but you can’t really sharpen up an inherently soft image so I’m ok with its “sharp” images. Keep in mind that “sharp” for this camera is not Canon L lens sharp. It’s more like “I didn’t expect it to be sharp” sharp 🙂

I will say that in general images appear sharper than what you would normally get from a plastic lens Holga or Lomography camera. I guess that’s what they mean by “too sharp” but again, the sharpness is fine for my purposes.

SAMPLE PICS

Here are a few sample pics from this camera over the years. I probably have a ton more but they’re pretty much gone as the one card I used on this camera became corrupted. I probably could invest in some software that might help me recover them but why bother? I’ll make new memories! Anyway, take a look:

ISSUES

My first and main issue with this camera is that it seems to eat up the three AAA batteries pretty fast. Make sure you have extras laying around.

Secondly, I’ve had two copies of this camera. One I bought brand new, and the other a couple of years ago, around 2017 or 2018. My first one bought around 2009-2010 lasted many years of sporadic usage. Towards the end, it developed a couple of problems. First, the locking mechanism for the battery compartment broke. And then, the SD card slot suddenly refused to hold the card in place. The battery compartment was remedied with tape but the SD card issue could not be remedied. I used the camera’s internal memory which gave me, I think, about ten shots. Though incredibly inconvenient, I used the camera like a film camera for a while until I found my other copy a couple years ago.

The one I am currently using is not without flaws. It seems to eat through batteries faster than my first copy. Every now and then, the LCD monitor shows lines like it’s going to conk out.

I’ve seen some of this before with the Contax N Digital so I’m not expecting this one to last much longer. To be fair though, the Contax N Digital costs a lot more than the Yashica EZ-F521 but reliability wise they seem on par with each other.

In the end, the Yashica EZ F521 should be seen in the same light as the Nishika N8000 and Nimslo 3D cameras in that it is a CRAP CAMERA, as I said about the 3D cameras 🙂

Now don’t be offended if you love these cameras, I do too! I’m just making that statement based on their flimsy build quality. plastic lenses, and their low reliability rates. All these cameras have a high FUN factor which makes up for their negatives but it comes with the caveat of HANDLE WITH CARE.

PRICE & AVAILABILTY

This is a hard one simply because, as of this writing, there’s no copies of the Yashica EZ-F521 to be found. I checked eBay, I checked all over the web. None. And perhaps, there are really not many people looking for this camera but I could be wrong.

I can only base my price estimates based on the average of the two copies I bought. One was brand new in 2009-2010 for $89 USD and one for $40 used. So I’d say if you could find one, a fair price would probably be $40-50 tops.

To aid in your search for this camera, it was also sold and rebranded as the Takashi FX 521 and perhaps rebranded as something else too, but I’m not sure about that last part. I have seen pics of the Takashi so I’m sure about that one.

BOTTOM LINE

The Yashica EZ F521 is NOT a Camera Legend and probably never will be. Nevertheless, it was probably the last digital “toy camera” that had such a buzz around it and for the most part, it delivers on its “Digital Holga” images and fun factor.

It was/is a fun camera to use, not for serious work, but if you consider it an extra “artistic brush” in your camera arsenal you certainly can get interesting results out of it.

Above all, see this camera as a testament to the fact that you will never know what you see on Camera Legend because I love ALL cameras but…I only write about the ones I found interesting!

Wow, I didn’t expect this article to be this long! If you’re reading this till the end, I say THANK YOU! 🙂

The Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim Film Camera

UWSPic

The Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim and its virtual clone, the Superheadz Yellow Peace. Cult camera favorites of toy camera fanatics.

The Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim is 35mm point and shoot film camera made by Sunpet Industries of China and distributed by Vivitar under their own name. The camera has an almost exact clone from Superheadz in different colors and different nicknames.

The actual year of manufacture is unknown or undocumented. At least, I cannot find it in my research. I suspect it was made in the 1990s or late 1980s.

The Ultra Wide & Slim is an all plastic camera with a plastic lens and low quality build. However, the camera has achieved cult camera popularity primarily due to its 22mm f/11 “Ultra Wide” lens which is unusual for a fixed focus point and shoot, even today.

As a camera, the Vivitar “UWS” has only one aperture, f/11 and only one shutter speed, 1/125. This makes it primarily usable as a daylight camera using higher speed film.

This was and is intended to be a cheap camera. However, the camera has become very popular with the toy camera, Holga, Lomography, etc, crowd for whom lens distortion, light leaks, and imperfect photos are much desired.

If you love cameras as much as I do, you’re bound to collect some cameras that you have yet to use. This is one (or two) of them!

Actually, I did get a roll of film through the Superheadz but when I developed the film the whole roll came out black. I’m not ashamed to admit that it was probably my mistake in development. I added too much water to Ilford ID-11 which is not a developer I use often, though some say D76 (which I have used often) is the same. However, I’m can’t be 100 percent sure if it was me or the camera so I will try again.

Any camera with a 22mm lens is bound to give you some very dynamic looking photos and I don’t mind the flaws, especially for the price. If you know what to expect, you won’t be disappointed.

If seeking one of these, prices used to be very cheap, but now is trending at $25-50 for the Vivitar in used condition, and from $24-60 for the Superheadz version, price dependent on the model and seller. For example, the black version called the “Slim Devil” runs near $40 from most sellers. You may find a good selection of the Superheadz version HERE.

I got my Vivitar on eBay for under $10 and paid $25 new for my “Yellow Peace” Superheadz clone. These cameras probably cost a few bucks to make, so even buying it for $25 is probably too much in principle. But since we don’t make these cameras (and no one else does) we have no choice 🙂

Don’t go too crazy with these cameras. As I said, they were intended to be cheap and fun cameras, but now some may argue that they are Camera Legends in the toy camera department. Take that out of your head, they ARE cheap cameras. Try to find one cheap! 🙂

***DEAL ALERT***

One great thing about Spring, other than the weather, are all the photographic deals going on. Some great deals and savings on Nikon Lenses are going on right now. If you’re going to buy, please buy through the link and help support this site. I greatly appreciate it, thanks!

Fujifilm Instax Mini Instant Film, 10 Sheets x 5 packs

Olympus has a very cool Trade Up program where you can trade in virtually any used camera and get monetary value towards the purchase of new Olympus gear including the OM-D series and the awesome new Pen cameras.

The Smallest Nikon: Nikon S01 Digital Camera

NikonS01C

“Baby Nikon” The smallest Nikon camera, the S01 🙂

Probably not what you expected after going missing for a few days, but I’ve never really done what people expected of me 🙂

The Nikon S01 is a 10.1 megapixel point and shoot digital camera introduced by Nikon in 2012.

Though I can’t confirm it, it is probably the smallest Nikon camera ever made, film or digital.

I first saw the S01 at Best Buy some years back and thought it was a cool novelty and nothing more. In fact, the first time I saw it, I just walked past it.

Maybe a year later, I saw it again and I was intrigued enough to pick it up. I thought it was cool, but at nearly $100, it was a pass for me.

Somehow I ended up with one in 2014 as a gift. Now that I like!

Toy Camera?

“Toy Camera” 2014. The Pentax Q original shot by another “Mighty-Mini” the Nikon S01 🙂

As I said, I consider this camera a novelty so I’m not going in too deep with this one. It might be a “quick review” or “mini review” but not a full review. In fact, if anyone did a full review of this camera, I would say you’re nuttier that I am! 🙂

There are some cool features on it though, such as a touch screen, and some cool creative filters, but the S01 is pretty much an auto point and shoot digital with no manual controls.

The touch screen is something many of us have come to enjoy, after using smartphones and tablets all these years.

The good news is that it’s there on the S01. The bad news is that it’s clunky to use and not iPhone fast. Not the most refined touchscreen out there.

The camera comes with 7.3gb of built in flash memory and has no slot for SD card upgrades. It comes with no charger, only a USB cord to charge via your computer.

The picture quality is decent to good. Don’t expect too much out of it in that area. This camera is all about size and perhaps cuteness 🙂

Nikon S01 Soft Filter Effect

“Soft & Dreamy” 2015. Nikon S01 using the “SOFT” filter effect.

In fact, if you’re already walking around with a smartphone, which seems like 90 percent of the people out there, then the camera on your phone is probably better than the S01.

Again, you don’t get the S01 to use as your main or secondary or even your third camera. You get it if you love cameras, as I do, and if you get a good shot out of it, even better!

If seeking one for your collection, prices are trending at $25-75 on the used market. Nikon replaced this camera with the S02, which is technically a little bigger, but roughly the same small camera.

The Nikon S01 is cute, sweet, and fun. It may not be the greatest picture taker and it’s certainly not a Camera Legend, but it’s the smallest Nikon out there and I’m happy to have it in my collection 🙂

The Minox DCC 5.1

The Minox DCC 5.1mp digital camera from Minox. Let’s make no mistake about it, this is a toy camera and I only got one for my collection as it is cute as a button 🙂

The Minox DCC 5.1 is a 5.1 megapixel camera introduced in 2010 by the famous miniature camera maker Minox.

While it obviously mimics the looks of the legendary Leica M3, an M3 it is not. This is pretty much a toy camera, pure and simple.

The camera is clunky to use and the image quality is quite bad. You can forget about shooting it at night or in low light unless you have the accessory flash. Over the years, I have been known to take cameras to their low light limits, and if the camera is half way decent, I can get something usable out of it. But this one, for low light shots, I said “Fuggedaboutit” 🙂

Sure, you might if you are so inclined, get some cool effects with it, but it’s a novelty, not an everyday camera.

There will be no “official” reviews on this one. In fact, everything you need to know about it, I just wrote it in the sentences above.

I got it for under $50 and it’s purely for my collection as a camera buff. One thing I will say is that, just like the model holding the camera, it is cute as a button…which is why I got it 🙂

As bad as these cameras are as a “camera” they still have their appeal as collectibles and in that respect, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these “Leica” Minoxes end up as an interesting footnote in the Camera Legend of Minox.

Although the Minoxx DCC 5.1 is an older model, there are a couple of other similar cameras Minox put out, including the last 14mp model. Although I still think they are very much toy cameras, if you’re interested you may be able to get one at a good deal on here for Minox cameras.