Tag Archives: TLR

Yashica 44 (1958)

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

Shooting the Yashica 44 – Photo by Maurice Greeson

 


Kosmo Foto Mono 120

Yashica Mat-124 G

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

 


Yashica Mat-124 G

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).


Yashica-A

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.

Yashica A - 120 Film (1959 - 1969)

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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Camera Collection

For the past month I’ve been running test film through various cameras so I can share the results here. This week, I want to show off some of the most recent additions to my collection.
 

Yashica A - 120 Film (1959 - 1969)Yashica A – 120 Film (1959 – 1969)

 

Pentax Spotmatic - 35mm Film (1964 - 1973)Pentax Spotmatic – 35mm Film (1964 – 1973)

 

Nikon EM - 35mm Film (1979 - 1982)Nikon EM – 35mm Film (1979 – 1982)

 

Pentax ME Super - 35mm Film (1980 - 1986)Pentax ME Super – 35mm Film (1980 – 1986)

 

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