After purchasing the Camerhack FCK127 film cutter, one camera that kept calling to me was the Yashica 44. Small, grey, and admittedly cute. I spent a lot of time on eBay looking at 44’s, but most of them were beat up, dented, and missing parts. I found one that was in fair condition and made my purchase. When I received the camera, it was in good shape with the original box and paperwork. The only repair I made was replacing the red plastic window on the back of the camera, an easy fix. Shortly after cleaning the lenses and the rest of the camera, the shutter jammed. I asked my friend Maurice to inspect the camera to see what he thought. He confirmed that the shutter was stuck. I admit I was disappointed but refused to make it a shelf queen. I sent an email to Mark Hama and asked for a repair estimate. He responded with an amount that I thought was reasonable and shipped him the camera. Mark Hama is well known in the online film community as the expert on all things Yashica since he actually worked in Yashica’s Nagano, Japan, factory building cameras. Within a few days, he called me on the phone to tell me that the repairs were done and wanted to confirm my home address. We had a short conversation about the history of the Yashica 44 line of cameras. Mr. Hama is a genuinely nice guy. I worry about the future of camera repairs in a world without people like Mr. Hama.
The Yahica 44 is a twin lens reflex camera with a coupled waist level viewfinder. Originally manufactured from 1958 to 1965, the 44 was made in three different variations: 44, 44A and 44LM. If you’d like to read more about the variants, and colors, I recommend visiting Mike Eckman Dot Com and Paul Sokk’s Yashica TLR website. The viewing lens (top) of the camera is a 60mm f/3.5 Yashikor coated lens, and the taking lens (bottom) is a 3-element 60mm f/3.5 – 22 coated Yashikor. The shutter is a Copal SV leaf with speeds from 1 to 1/500th of a second and bulb. The 44 doesn’t have an internal exposure meter, so it requires no batteries. It originally sold for about $60 + $10 for a leather case. It’s no secret that the Yashica 44 bares a strong resemblance to the 1957 Rolleiflex “Baby Rollei,” including the color. The overall specs are the same (60mm, f/3.5, 1 – 500th), but the Yashica 44 doesn’t come with a Franke & Heidecke price tag.
This is a fun camera to use. It’s small, but not too small. It fits and feels nice in my hands. I’m finding more-and-more that I need to use reading glasses to see up close, so using a waist level viewfinder can be a challenge. I almost always rely on the flip-up magnifying glass to focus with TLR’s. The 44 is easy to focus and because of how you hold the camera, it’s also easy to set the shutter speed and f-stop. The Yashica 44 (and 44LM to be reviewed later) is a solid camera with excellent build quality. I prefer the film advance crank over a knob. And because the film advance is directly connected to the shutter (on the 44 only), there’s no risk of an accidental double-exposure. If I had to pick a 127 camera to use all the time, this would be it.
Camera: Yashica 44 (1958)
Film: Ultrafine Extreme 400
Process: FPP-110 (1+31) 7 Min @ 68°
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo
Shooting the Yashica 44 – Photo by Maurice Greeson