The AW in its name stands for 'All Weather' as it enjoys JIS Protection Class 4 and so can be used safely in rain or where dust, sand or sea-spray is present.
The lens is Yashica's trusted 32mm f3.5, comprising 4 elements in 3 groups; it produces sharp pictures which are full of contrast. The camera is unusual for Yashica in that it is supplied with a battery adapter which allows you to use either 2 AA batteries or a 123 lithium cell; a very good accessory. Although it is an automated camera, you can call on Focus Lock for those occasions when your subject is outside the AF control; you can also call on a fill-in flash by using the button on the front of the camera regardless of the automated light setting.
On the top plate is an additional viewfinder - the N.A.Scope - which is in effect a waist level finder. All in all, this has to be one of the best of Yashica's P&S cameras outside the T* range.
Is there an easy way to determine if the circuitry can use lithium batteries? I can imagine lots of places where this gadget would be helpful -- NOT just cameras, and flashes!
DAMN -- I just gave away a handful of 123 batteries that I had no use for!!!
When it comes to a modern item, I suppose it's simply a case of rtfm; the user manual of the object will usually contain a warning if lithium power can't be used. The problem comes with items that pre-date the common use of lithium cells; I'm not aware of any way of determining if its safe to use them. Certainly there are quite a few photographic items where the use of lithium batteries is specifically ruled out according to the warnings contained in their manuals/instruction sheets.
I wonder if anyone has done some research on the matter?
Good question. Most of the stuff I would want to use it with are older gear. I've never seen a J lithium battery, but lithium 9v batteries are easy to fine -- and these are used in older smoke detectors. I some some newer gear, like Nikon Coolpix cameras that specifically state they can use alkaline AA or lithium AA. So it's not one or the other in all cases. There out to be an easy way to determine it -- amps, watts, volts, etc.
There's usually two practical differences that makes a lithium fail to work in place of Alkaline or even Nickel Cadmium, and even when a particular device predates the common use of lithiums, you should still be able to compare the known values and see if it's close enough. The most obvious is voltage, where an Alkaline will be rated at 1.5v for a AA, the Lithium Ion is 1.35v, and the less obvious is the amp hours. the mAh values of Lithium types are usually overrated to a considerable degree with the cheaper Chinese knock-offs, so it's probably safe to assume they'll still be less than the typical value from name branded batteries. Most lithiums are close to those of the non-rechargeables, or just a wee bit less.
The other thing that's harder to tell is the power curve inherent in a particular type of battery chemistry, that's easily comparable... mostly, they are not available on the packaging, and you'd need to read the data sheets from the specific manufacturer's websites to track down any graphs they might have showing tested and target values. The first 2 values can give some confidence on what might work, but the mAh values will tell you how long they'll last - IF - they work at all. If you're not up for poking around websites to research the tedious stuff, trial and error is not likely to fry anything as long as you stay under the expected voltage by a notch.
Both are pretty much useless when they drain down to 1.5v, even though they will produce a very weak light in a flashlight -- but never enough to charge a strobe, for example.
I have a feeling you might want to recalibrate whatever is measuring the voltage if it's meant to give you readings 'under load', otherwise at open voltage (no load) it may give those readings -but- that may not help to determine real time usability. AA Alkaline brand name batteries are rated at 1.5v under load, and they may measure downward after a long sit on a shelf. When they stop working in something and are then measured, they'll probably fall to somewhere just under 1.3v to 1.15v. At that point, it's unlikely they'll regain much of a charge to get back to a working range, and best used as a firestarter. Putting them into a freezer, ain't gonna help, in fact it does the exact opposite and increases the discharge rate.
Any of the equivalent Lithium AA may be rated on the package at 1.5v, but when measured under a load they could drop to as low as 1.35v (cheap Chinese knockoffs, usually) - which is still enough for them to work under most situations - but the older any Lithium gets, the more they're going to slowly drop in both voltage and amperage. They have an odd lifecycle when compared to Alkaline, but generally they're considered to be superior for some applications that need a more even discharge rate when in actual use on high drain devices... i.e., cameras and flashes.
As an example of a 'power curve', here's a datasheet on a Lithium (NOT a Lithium-Ion) AA from Energizer: data.energizer.com/pdfs/l91.pdf It shows the discharge rate compared to an alkaline.
One more page to point to for Rayovac's Energizer datasheets - where the rated voltage on all rechargeable NiMH AA's are 1.2v (under load - intended for the US market), and mAh runs from 1300 to 2300: data.energizer.com/#search