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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