Monday, June 20, 2011

Yashica Mat 124

My obsession with medium format continues, with the purchase of my first TLR (twin lens reflex) camera, the Yashica Mat 124.

Purchased on Trademe (where else) for $150NZ from a woman in Westport (my home town), it was her husbands camera (sadly he died recently from cancer).

The Yashica Mat 124 is a Japanese 'copy' of the German Rollei TLR cameras, beginning production in 1968 and finishing in 1971 (whereafter the 124G was produced). Although considered a 'copy', the Yashica is by no means an inferior product. They are extremely well made and many choose the 124 model over the later 124G due to the more reliable gears used in the earlier model.

My copy has been well looked after, although it certainly needed a good clean. On some of these older 124's the 'taking' lens (the one at the bottom) can develop a greasy film on it over time, which will obviously reduce contrast and need to be cleaned. Fortunately my camera has no such residue and is brilliantly clear.

Of course with a 40+ year old camera, light seals and foam will have deteriorated and will need replacing. Again, my 124 was not too bad in this respect. I did take the viewfinder off (just unscrew four tiny screws) and replaced the foam around the edge of the camera where it meets the finder hood - as well as adding some black string to the very bottom of the film door. All the other string around the door was, however, still in tact (at least it looks like it is). So hopefully there won't be any light leaks when I put a roll of film through it?

Of course the Yashica Mat 124 takes 120 roll film (or 220 by simply revolving the film pressure plate inside the camera), shooting a 6x6 square negative. Yes, I've decided to persevere with the square format. I don't love it yet, but I reckon given enough time I'll get used to seeing in the square format. And, of course, you can always crop the negative later on if a more rectangular composition is required.

Because I've also decided that if I'm going to shoot film - and medium format - then I may as well shoot as big as I can (within reason). So at the moment, 6x4.5 doesn't interest me, as it simply isn't big enough. 6x6 or 6x7 is where it's at in medium format for me, so that's what I will concentrate on for my film shooting. I've even started selling most of my 35mm film cameras off on Trademe (but I'm keeping the Olympus kit).

So having cleaned her (yes, camera's are female), all that remains is to put a roll of film through and make sure everything is working as it should. Surprisingly enough, it also looks like the meter is actually working as well, although I don't know how accurate it will be? The 124 uses a CdS (match needle) exposure system powered by a 1.3v battery. And what do you know, I just happened to have a Wein Cell 1.35v battery that I imported from the USA for a Pentax Spotmatic that I never used - and bingo, it fits perfectly! The needle moves when the shutter button is pressed and matches up when the shutter and aperture values are changed, so it looks very much like I'm in business.

Now I just need some time to go out and make some images!

1 comment:

  1. Nice to know you are enjoying Yashica medium format film :-) My dad gave me Yashica B and from there - there is no return anymore when I see the result :-) Have great days!

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Wayne