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TLR: My first Yashica Mat 124G experience
Old 06-09-2006   #1
RicardoD
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TLR: My first Yashica Mat 124G experience

I recently picked up a nice shooter Yashica Mat 124G from another RFF member. This is my first TLR and first time with 120 film. Thought I'd share my newbie experience.

Film loading is pure joy. I found it easier then loading 35mm film. This may have to do with the clear Yashica Mat instructions and positive mechanical feeling of every step.

Composing a shot a such a different experience and the red lines on the ground glass really aid the process. I was wondering what those lines were for but as soon as you start framing images you figure it out right away. The flip image thing took a bit of gettng used to but by the end of my roll I was hand holding shots and starting to get used to it. I was warned about using a TLR to take pics of my little kids, but they are starting to listen to daddy and stay still for just a moment. My Yashica Mat does not have a neck strap and I need one badly. Trying to hand hold this thing, focus, compose and then hit the shutter is just too much.

Focusing with the loupe is a snap. I can see that with a max shutter speed of 1/500s that using small aperatures will be difficult in daylight unless I use really slow film or get an ND filter. To makes things worse in this regard I develop in Diafine so I have to shoot at the higher ISO speeds that Diafine requires.

I bought 3 rolls of TMX and shot it at 200 based upon the Film/Diafine review which can be found here. (I found that loading 120 film on a stainless steel reel is easier than 35mm.) Diafine is easy but a cruel mistress as basically when your shots are over or underexposed you pretty much have yourself left to blame. That was the case on several of my shots. I relied on the built in Yashica Mat meter but that is only as good as how you use it. Could be the shutter speeds on my Mat are off, or the meter is off, but I am sure Mark Hama can take care of that down the road. Which reminds me, I really need to get a light meter, and a hood, and an ND6 filter.....

My loving wife got me my Father's Day gift early, a refurbished Epson 4180 scanner with medium format capability. Wow, is there a ton of detail in a 6x6 negative. This is going to get very addicting. Happily a few of my shots on my test roll turned out. The tones I was envious of in other TLR photos are there and the camera appears to be working. So its time to reload and give some proper portraits a try.

Sadly however I have to report that buying a new piece of well regarded equipment doesn't magically turn you into a gifted photography (despite my delusions to the contrary which seems to fuel my GAS). I still have so much to learn about the proper lighting situations to use this camera, or any camera for that matter!. I was depressed after the inital scan of my negatives, feeling like a hack, but a day later I managed to cheer up a bit, after all, there are two more rolls of 120 film in my fridge!

BTW, where is the TLR forum where I really should have posted this?
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Old 06-09-2006   #2
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I really like the tonality in your shots here. Good luck with the TLR
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Old 06-09-2006   #3
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You are doomed. Just accept that you'll never be satisfied with little negatives again and you might be ok...



(IOW, been there, done that, still infected... )

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Old 06-09-2006   #4
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Jano,

Thanks. The tones are there and I need to work on the rest. I just picked up a book called "Photographing Children in Black & White" by Helen T. Boursier and the author uses two medium format cameras (Hasselblad and Mamiya RB67). It's been a good read for a newbie like myself with practical tips on clothing, using available light, posing, and how to use a light meter in different situations. My goal is to get some larger framed print on my walls to satisfy "the wife" and myself. My children are at the magical age where they photograph great and I need to enjoy it while I can. I am sure my Yashica Mat can deliver.
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Old 06-09-2006   #5
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i think the 124 must be one of the most under rated cameras around. I bought one with the intention of buying a hassy kit. When i looked at the quality coming out of the thing, i kinda just forgot about the hassy. It is that good. And i used to shoot a hassy 503 kit so i have shots to compare. Great article!
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Old 06-10-2006   #6
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Ricardo,
Welcome to the world of TLR. Very nice first shots! After a few rolls, it will become second nature.
I use an Epson 3170 for my 6X6 negs. It blows digital away!! I grew up with a Yashica TLR.
Megapixels ? We don't need no stinking megapixels !!!!

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Old 06-10-2006   #7
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It is rather mesmerizing the first time you see a 6x6 negative versus a 35mm isn't it :-)

Congrats.
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Old 06-10-2006   #8
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Well, there isn't a TLR forum because TLRs aren't rangefinders...but I love talking about them anyway.

As others have said, nice shots. My only comments are about using the mat 124g.

First, definitely get a hood. Most TLRs don't have as much flocking on the inside as other cameras, esp. the mat 124(g). This means you get increased chance of flare. Make sure to get a square bay 1 hood. Unless you want to get an actual rollei one ($60?), the plastic $15 ones are just as good. Ebay prices, of course.

Also, the meter is accurate but, as you say, you have to know how to use it. It's very hard to tell what it's pointed at, esp. if you're using the loupe. You're composing with it up high, then you take it away to get the meter reading. This simple movement can really throw your reading off. I leave a 675 hearing aid batter in mine just in case, but I tend to use sunny 16 or an incident meter that I use occaisionally to get overal light levels.

have fun with it,
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Old 06-10-2006   #9
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Great start to your TLR adventures! Lovely shots.

As Todd Hanz said awhile back, there seems to be a strong affinity for TLR's among RF shooters. It would be nice to have a little forum for them here, even if they're not RF's.

BTW, if you have a flickr account (they have free accounts if you're interested) there are two groups you can join and post to:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/tlr/

http://www.flickr.com/groups/mediumformat/

Have fun!

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Old 06-10-2006   #10
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Great stuff, the 124G is a great camera and TLR's are as addictive as RF's and most are cheaper, great shots, keep it up.

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Old 06-10-2006   #11
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My watch list on ebay is getting full! Love to get the Sekonic L308b, hoping to get Lune Pro F, but for budget reasons I may just get a Gossen Pilot 2 to take care of my immediate needs which does not include very low light levels.

I see that the neck strap loops look to have been designed for specific type of attachment feature on the end. There is a lug on the camera below the little bar that forms the hoop to attach a strap. I was thinking of going for one of Gordy's straps but those are fixed length and I have no idea lenght is optimum. Sure I could figure it out with a string but not sure if I would be happy with that lenght in the long term. I just need to find a dirt cheap adjustable strap to figure out what works.
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Old 06-10-2006   #12
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I used just a regular camera strap (adjustable, yes). Fits right through the little bar/hoop/thing.

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Old 06-10-2006   #13
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I like the Domke "gripper" strap, it helps to pull the camera taught around my neck for those 1/15 sec. shots.

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Old 06-10-2006   #14
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TLR stuff is a great bargain now-after buying a Mamiya C330, stuff shows up for free all the time now. Including a second body/lens, donated to a family I know.
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Old 06-10-2006   #15
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Great pictures indeed! Lovely tones. You will enjoy it very much. (And I bet you decide you'll "need" to try out some other TLRs too -- Rolleicords, Diacords, Autocords....)
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Old 06-10-2006   #16
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Very nice tonal range. I had a 124G and thought it a great bargain for the price. When you get ready for the next step up - if you ever do - I recommend a Rolleicord. Excellent build quality and very fine lenses. In the late sixties, early seventies, I used a Rolleicord for everything from sports photography to landscapes to portraits. Currently I have a Rolleiflex, which has a faster lens (2.8) than the Rolleicord (3.5), but otherwise it's essentially the same camera.

A neat trick in crowds is to prefocus on the subject (or guess it) then hold the camera over your head upside down, look at the groundglass, frame, and shoot.

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Old 06-11-2006   #17
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Congrats on your new camera. I have owned three of the Mats over the years and still have one of them. It has lens problems so it isn't used but rarely however I also have a Rolliecord 1V and agree with previous posts that it is a fine camera.

Instead of or in addition to a strap I would suggest a left hand L-bracket. The one I have is really for use with a flash but it doubles well as the sturdy and steady way to hold the camera for shooting.

I use a pl filter as a 2-nd when the need arises using a Bay-1 to 49mm filter adapter.

A technique I used often when shooting in a war zone with my original Mat 24 was to use sunny 16 and set the focus to infinity. Then you use the sports finder for framing and forget about focus completely. Everything from 1 meter to infinity will be in focus.
You can then concentrate on framing and subject without the mirror reversal that so many find distracting.

Try shooting some chrome. You will REALLY like the results.
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Old 06-12-2006   #18
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Ok, a successful ebay Sunday has produced auction wins for a Gossen Luna Pro for a ridiculously low price (hope it works!) and a Yashica Bay 1 lens hood which I over paid for but its in excellent condition and has the little case. I manually sniped both in the last 5 seconds so nobody hate me for that if you were bidding.

Next up, a neck strap and perhaps a 2 stop ND filter. Then my GAS is done (famous last words).
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Old 06-12-2006   #19
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I hate TLR's!

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Old 06-12-2006   #20
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Ricardo, remember: using C41 you can safely overexpose by a stop, or even two.
1/500 is not really that limiting, only in true bright sunlight and widest apertures.
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Old 06-12-2006   #21
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When I had my Yashica MAT 124G I normally used the builtin meter. It worked as fine as any other reflective meter, and as badly. For lower light, I used a Sekonic Micro Leader that worked in surprisingly low light. However, you are going to love that Gossen Luna Pro if it works correctly. You might have to compesate for the differences in voltage if it hasn't been calibrated for non mercury batteries. Other than that, those are great little meters. I really like mine, and in fact prefer it over the sbc as it is a little smaller. Just won't fit the spot meter on those rare occassions I need/want that.

Do try some slide film some time soon. It will indeed blow you away as much as that big viewfinder already has.
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Old 06-12-2006   #22
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Ricardo, you did snipe me on the Yashica hood! But that's OK, I have another. You will definitely find it useful outdoors, since as someone else has said, the lenses are not sheltered and thus prone to flare.

The meter is fine, but it's a little tricky to know just what it's reading. When in doubt, overexpose when using print film. I do like the way the meter comes on only when you flip open the viewing hood. (And unless you have the correct batteries, remember to cut the film speed in half when setting it, or you'll underexpose.)
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Old 06-12-2006   #23
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oftheherd, I am going to solder a diode in series to the red battery wire to allow me to use SR44 batteries once I make a physical adapter. There is a mercury battery thread going on right now about this.

KoNickon, Three people tried sniping at the end, my bid was just a guess after tracking a few of these the past few weeks. Since you have a hood I don't feel so bad. I've been on the losing end of this several times so I was happy to finally hit one.
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Old 06-12-2006   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pherdinand
I hate TLR's!

Yeah, me too!

Here's a snapshot my mother took of me (Olympus Stylus Epic) while I was taking the second picture of her (sorry, all I have is a scan of the contact sheet right now).
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Old 06-13-2006   #25
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Ricardo, I'm happy you got your hood, finally. Sometimes you just have to be persistent.
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Old 06-20-2006   #26
Todd Frederick
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I have used TLR cameras since 1958. My first was a Yashica LM and then a Rolleiflex. I have used Rolleiflex, Rolleicord, Mamiya TLR of many forms, Minolta Autocord, and almost all of the Yashica TLR versions.

At this time, I have a Yashica 124 (not "e"), a Yashica 635, and a gray leather Yashica A.

Right now, my favorite is the Yashica A. It's very simple to operate, reliable, and produces outstanding images even with the three element Yashicor lens.

After all this time using TLR cameras, I think the Yashica lenses produce outstanding images, the cameras are easy to operate, and I prefer them over Rolleiflex.
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Old 06-20-2006   #27
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Thanks for the comments Todd. It helps to ease my Rolleiflex envy and just focus on improving my skill with my Yashica TLR. I have a light meter and a nice hood to go with it now so I'm all set to practice, practice, practice.
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Old 06-20-2006   #28
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You have me beat by 14 years. I inherited a Yashica D in 1972. I still recommend the D to anyone wanting to test the waters with a TLR.

Shooting with a gray leather A? That's a rare one.
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Old 06-20-2006   #29
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what's the general opinion on the yashinon wide/tele adapter lens set for the 124G? should i bother to take a second look at it? or i'd be better off with a different TLR with interchangeable lenses?
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Old 06-21-2006   #30
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From what I have read and experienced, they are not all that hot. The image is soft. Glass on glass and all that. Best to use shoe leather method, move the camera closer or farther away. If wide angle is that important to you, another brand of TLR will be the answer. There are some TLR forums on flickr dot com if you want more info on this.

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Old 06-21-2006   #31
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I also think they aren't that wide or long -- so not much of a difference from the normal lens.

If you want wide, you'll need to get a Mamiya (the C220 is a good choice) and a 55mm or wider lens.
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Old 06-21-2006   #32
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When I had my 124 I picked up a set of wide/tele auxilliary lenses. They diminished the quality of the Yashica's lens. I gave them away to a student.

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Old 06-21-2006   #33
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It's a slippery slope. I'm trying large format for the first time this summer.
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Old 06-21-2006   #34
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The switch from 35 to MF is easy. The switch to LF takes machismo! I'm saving LF for my retirement years. That and lawn bowling.
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Old 06-21-2006   #35
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Lawn bowling, combined with good beer, could be the way to go. As for me, I got bored and leased the ground floor of an old hotel, the Silver King, in Brewery Gulch. 1300 square feet. My son, a digital whizzbang, and I, a black und white film wetroom guy, finally have some space to work in. I'm building a darkroom in one room and he's turning another room into a totally light-controlled studio. Norman lights, soft boxes, giant Canon DSLR, etc. Plus the whole front of our space used to be an art gallery.

Ceilings are 13 feet high. There's a bar across the street. The bar is next door to a pizza joint. Retirement's looking good.

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Old 06-21-2006   #36
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