Take auto-focus, built in flash and a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens: encase it in a 1980's plastic brick and you have the Yashica TAF. Introduced in 1984 as a premium point and shoot and the start of the Yashica T* line.
In 1983, Kyocera purchased Yashica. Along with the purchase came the licensing arrangement with Zeiss. The T* line took advantage to this by bring the legendary Carl Zeiss Tessar to an affordable portable format. Well mostly affordable, they were a higher end point and shoot and still carry a premium price for used examples.
There is nothing about the looks of the Yashica TAF that got me excited. It looks like most of the mid-eights point and shoot cameras. There are some decent entries but they just are not that exciting to look at and the Yashica TAF is ugly even for the class. Until, you spy the red T* and realize this plastic block in sporting a Carl Zeiss Tessar 35 f3.5 lens.
The lens may be the obvious attraction of the TAF but there are some other nice touches. I like that the flash is off by default and only activates if you deploy it (done by a switch on the back). I like that the shutter button has a cover to prevent in bag activation. I like that the automatic film advance does not engage until you release the button. It is loud but you can delay it by keeping the shutter depressed. Film rewind is controlled by a switch on the bottom. I am also a fan of the fact that everything runs on 2 AA batteries loaded through the bottom. The lens is protected by a plastic cover that slides away just before the shutter opens.
1984 Auto Focus is not exactly cutting edge technology so my expectation were low. Cosmetically this one was in good shape and mechanical seemed mostly fine. I say mostly because I had a few cases when pushing the shutter button did not fire the shutter but they it would on the next push. Playing with it more I think I was trying to open the cover and fire too fast. Not sure if it was waiting for the auto focus or just for the system to power up. The auto focus was performed best at distance and struggle more on close subjects. I also had a number of frames that did not expose, not sure why. Image quality was good but overwhelming.
Lens: Carl Zeiss Tessar T* 35mm f3.5
Film: FujiColor 100