When Stephen Dowling at Kosmo Foto announced the new Kosmo Foto Mono 120, I rushed to preorder several rolls. Why? Kosmo Foto Mono has been one of my favorite films. You can read my original review here, and view more photos here.
Kosmo Foto Mono is a fantastic ISO 100 black and white film. Just like the 135-36, the 120 medium format version has a nice balance of grain and contrast. I’m really looking forward to shooting more in my Yashica Mat-124 G.
Over Memorial Day weekend, we took a drive north to Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a stormy, cloudy, rainy day. However, each time we stepped out of the car, it stopped raining long enough for us to enjoy ourselves. Our first stop was Stricker Ranch in Hansen, Idaho. This ranch and homestead date back to 1865 and was one of the stops along the Oregon Trail. Then we drove on to Shoshone Falls outside of Twin Falls. With plenty of winter snow and spring rain, the roaring waterfall was incredible. I was able to created a panoramic shot of the falls with two 6×6 shots, stitching them in Lightroom. And then we stopped to walk along the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls.
Camera: Yashica Mat-124 G
Film: Kosmo Foto Mono 120
Process: RepliColor, SLC
Scanner: Epson V600 Photo
The Yashica Mat-124 G is known as being the last TLR (twin lens reflex) camera manufactured by Yashica from 1970 to 1986. In a time where camera manufactures had abandoned TLR’s, the Mat-124 G was very much out of place, but very successful. The Mat-124 G is nearly identical to the earlier 124 model. The only differences being cosmetic, the 124 G is all black, some electrical changes were made along with the pressure plate slides internally.
Featuring a four-element, Yashinon 80mm f/3.5 taking lens, and a 80mm f/2.8 viewing lens, the Mat-124 G has a Copal-SV shutter with speeds from 1 to 1/500 sec, bulb mode, self-timer, MX flash snyc selector and shutter locking device. On the top of the camera is a Cadmium Sulfide (CdS) meter powered by one modern PX-625 battery. The meter is match-needle based on the preselection of the shutter speed. The film advance crank on the right-side of the camera automatically stops, preventing accidental double-exposures and proper spacing on the film between images. The focus knob on the left-side of the camera extends and retracts the front panel containing the taking and viewing lenses. The shutter button is threaded for a standard cable release and the bottom of the camera is threaded with a standard ¼” tripod socket.
I bought this camera because I really enjoy shooting 120 film, Kodak Tri-X being my favorite. I’ve also enjoyed using my Yashica A and wanted something with a meter and a better focus screen. The Mat-124 G meter powers itself on when you open the focusing windows on top of the camera. While Zinc Air batteries don’t last as long as the old mercury ones, at least I don’t need to worry about forgetting to replace the lens cap or flipping a switch to save the battery. The physical location of the shutter speed and aperture dials make this camera easy to use. While the ground glass focus screen is bright and sharp from edge-to-edge, I find myself using the built-in magnifying lens over the top of the focus window frequently to ensure that I’ve nailed the focus. The focus screen is considerably better than my Yashica A, plus there’s still a number of vendors that sell and install replacement glass for better viewing on the 124 G. The taking lens is a bayonet mount for accessories. I’ve found that buying an original metal lens hood, or 30mm filters, can be very expensive. Overall, the camera is built like a tank and produces a wonderful 6×6 medium format images. Below is a selection of photos taken on three different types of film: Lomography Color Slide / X-Pro 200, Fujifilm Reala 100, and Kodak Vericolor HC (Expired 3/91).
The Yashica-A is a basic TLR (Twin Lens Reflex) medium format 120 film camera that was manufactured by Yashica from 1959 to 1969 in Nagano, Japan. When introduced in the United States, it was advertised as an entry-level TLR for $29 (US). The Yashica A, C and LM cameras led the way for the popular Yashica Mat line of TLR cameras. During production of the Yashica-A, twin 80mm Yashimar lenses were used, but later changed to a Yashikor 80mm. All of Yashica’s lenses were manufactured by the Tomioka Optical Works in Japan. My Yashica-A has the 80mm Yashikor lenses, f/3.5 – f/22. The shutter speeds are bulb, 1/25 – 1/300. The color of the camera body also changed during the production: all black, black/gray, and a rare cream/brown. The Yashica-A has a leaf shutter and PC connection for flash sync. The shutter control, shutter lever and aperture control are all located around the lower photographic lens.
This is the first quality TLR camera I’ve used or owned. While the top-down viewfinder is big and clear, I’ve learned that using it can be very frustrating. The viewfinder does have a grid, and it has an additional magnifying glass to ensure accurate focus. However, I found that it really slowed me down when trying to compose an image. I did not take the time to use the camera with the Sportsfinder Window. This allows you to hold the camera up at eye level to compose the shot. Setting the shutter speed and aperture is extremely easy and straightforward. The first roll of film I used was Kodak Porta 400. Color was good, images are sharp and what I expected. The second roll I used was Lomography Lady Grey 400. The Lomo film has medium grain and overall I’m happy with the look and feel of the images. I have one complaint about Lomogoraphy’s 120 film. I understand that 120 film is a paper-backed film. The paper-side against the film is black for obvious reasons. However, the paper on the outside opposite of the film is also black with faint gray lettering. When winding the film, this makes looking for the image number in the red film counter window almost impossible. With the two rolls of Lomo Lady Grey film I used in the Yashica-A, I’ve missed the first frame because I couldn’t see the number in the film counter until it was 2 (late). I realize I could have used a film changing bag or a dark room to roll the film back, but I was at the beach and it wasn’t an option. As I continue to use medium format cameras, I may need to rethink the brand of film I’m using.
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