Are TLRs a good way to discover medium-format photography?

I guess another way to pose the question would be “are TLRs still relevant”?

Film photography appears to be holding its own in this digital world but have twin-lens reflex cameras lost their appeal? Obviously, not all vintage and classic camera sales go to just collectors – many of these 40 and 50-year-old cameras are being purchased and used by today’s crop of film photographers looking for a way to explore medium-format images without breaking the bank.

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Typical twin-lens reflex (TLR) film camera.

I decided to take a snapshot of just completed sales of cameras that were listed as “TLR – Film Cameras – Sold” on eBay.

tlr sold list

The top six are –

  • Mamiya
  • Yashica
  • Rolleiflex
  • Lubitel
  • Rollei
  • Konica Minolta

This list goes back to the last few days of January 2019 and does include some accessories (lenses, lens caps, cases) that are not cameras. So the total numbers will be a bit skewed.

Here’s the list searching for “TLR Camera – Film Cameras – Sold” on eBay which removed accessories like lenses, cases and other minor parts.

tlr list

The top six are –

  • Yashica
  • Mamiya
  • Rolleiflex
  • Rollei
  • Konica Minolta
  • Minolta

This represents an unscientific look at the popularity of TLRs as a viable tool for enjoying medium-format (6×6 cm) photography. 120 roll film is still widely available and it’s easy to find online companies that develop the film.

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6×6 cm image taken with my Yashica-Mat EM TLR. Learning to compose and shoot this square format takes a bit of practice but the quality of the finished picture is worth it.

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Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

My camera shop is always open and it can be found at http://www.ccstudio2380.com – I’ve got a big sale in progress with some super savings… check it out!

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

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Yashica-Mat 120 Film Camera Set – 1960

For those who may have missed this post from two years ago here’s a reblog of it. This is one of the nicest sets we’ve ever come across in all our years of collecting Yashicas.

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

dscf3786 Pretty close to the way it looked when it was unboxed back in 1960. This one was part of a short production run of only a handful of cameras. It was for sale at US Military Exchanges (stores) in Japan as it is marked *EP* which meant and exempt purchase. No taxes paid but it could not be purchased or sold on the Japanese domestic market. 

dscf3787 It was Yashica’s first crank film advance TLR and it had auto cocking of the shutter. First released in April 1957.

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The quality of the images taken with a Yashica-Mat are outstanding – Yashica used high quality Yashinon f3.5 80mm lenses made for them by Tomioka Optical of Tokyo.

They are a joy to use and it’s a great camera to get into medium format photography. It produces large 6 x 6 cm negatives or slides.

Thanks for your visit!

Chris and Carol  ^.^

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Yashica-Mat EM

My favorite go-to medium format camera with a built-in exposure meter (EM). This one is from 1964.

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Woodblock print by Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858)

Studio Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

For more about the Yashica-Mat EM please visit one of my previous posts here.

Thanks for stopping by! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

More Yashima Flex – The Dark Knight

The Yashima Flex represents Yashima’s first TLR with their name on it – their true first TLR was the uniquely named Pigeonflex.

Here are a small collection of studio images of the aptly named The Dark Knight.

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Studio camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W

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This Yashima Flex is the best TLR from any manufacturer in our collection. It is in pristine condition and is fully operational.

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The attention to even the smallest details like the metal lens cap shows that Yashima was serious about building the best quality cameras at the best price (a great value for the customer). 

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The lenses were supplied by Tomioka Optical and the shutter was from NKS. As you can see from this 1954 made camera the company name was Yashima Kogaku Seiki Co., Ltd. and they produced their TLRs in a small factory in Nagano Prefecture along the shores of Lake Suwa in the small town of Suwa (the east shore of the lake).

I purchased this camera from a collector in Japan who apparently had it on display in a controlled environment as the camera has done well over these past six-plus decades.

Thanks for stopping by and if you want to learn even more about this camera and its place in history please visit my good friend Pauls’ amazing site at http://www.yashicatlr.com

My camera shop can be reached at http://www.ccstudio2380.com – I’m running a big sale starting today! Check it out! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashima Flex – 1954

Three Yashima Flex twin-lens reflex (TLR) 120 roll film cameras from 1954. This was the first camera to carry the Yashima (Yashica) name.

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For such a young Japanese camera company the Yashima Flex was a well-built TLR. These guys are still capable of producing quality images six decades later.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com for some interesting classic cameras and photo gear. – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashima Pigeonflex – my oldest Yashica

Confusing title to be sure.

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Before Yashica there was Yashima and before that, there was a Pigeonflex. Yashima 1953. That’s 65 years of Japanese dirt, dust, and fuzz – purchased from a collector from Sapporo, Japan. In my eyes… it’s beautiful! The Tomioka lenses are clean and clear. The camera works great too! Made by the wonderful craftspeople of Yashima / Yashica in beautiful Nagano Prefecture along the shores of Lake Suwa.

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The original Pigeonflex on the left and the first ever TLR to bear the Yashima Flex name on the right. The Pigeonflex has been left in its “as found” condition… proudly showing its 65 plus years of dirt and grime. The Yashima Flex is also in its “as found” condition but it has lived a more protected life. Basically, these are the first two cameras that Yashica (as it has come to be known) manufactured.

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Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com as you may see something that strikes your fancy! – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

Yashica-Mat 124G

The Yashica-Mat 124G was Yashica’s last TLR in a long line of twin-lens reflex cameras dating back to 1953. The likely end date for the 124G was 1986. That’s a phenomenal run for a TLR.

Think about the cameras that were being marketed in the 1980s – the Canon New F-1N, the Canon T90 and EOS 650, a gem from Nikon like the F3, autofocus and autoexposure 35s from Fujifilm, Canon, Olympus and a host of others. TLRs were dinosaurs in a George Jetson world but there was Yashica plodding away building 124Gs for a world that didn’t need or want them.

To be fair, Yashica was also making some modern cameras too during this period that were very well received building on the successes of their pioneering electronic cameras from the late 1960s and the 1970s. But all was not well for Yashica. 1983 saw the takeover by Kyocera and except for a few surprising winners now and then, Kyocera was not committed to advancing the Yashica brand.

I believe that the Yashica-Mat 124G during this period did not suffer from its association with Kyocera. Early 1980, 1981 and 1982 124s look and feel just as good as the later 124Gs that were made during the later Kyocera years.

The “G” in the 124G indicates that Yashica used gold plated contacts in their electronic CdS light meter connections implying that it was a better way to make a more reliable connection.

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With the viewfinder hood closed power to the light meter was shut off conserving battery power. Here the shutter speed is set at 1/250 and the aperture at f16. The red meter needle is deflected to the left.

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With the hood opened, the meter is now powered and with the shutter set at 1/30th and the aperture opened up to f3.5 the red meter needle is deflected to the right. The ASA is set a 400.

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In my opinion, there’s nothing cheap about the Yashica-Mat 124G. I think it’s actually quite modern looking given that a TLR is far from advanced design and technology. Yes, Yashica switched from using chrome metal trim items in favor of black plastic pieces but have you ever looked closely at Canon’s T90 and EOS 650? Even the F3 uses plastic – done well there’s nothing wrong with it. The weight difference between my venerable mid-1960s Yashica-Mat EM and my 124G is about one ounce.

In summary, if you want to experience medium format photography at its best you can’t go wrong with either a classic from Yashica like the Yashica D, EM or Mat or this modern classic the Yashica-Mat 124G. The Tomioka made optics are sharp, the Copal shutters are accurate and the build quality from Yashica was second to none (millions made).

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit my shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com

Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.

New in the Shop – Yashica-Mat 124G

Perfectly operating Yashica-Mat 124G twin-lens reflex (TLR) 6×6 cm medium format film camera. Whew!

The last TLR in a very long line of innovative and quality made cameras by Yashica. The last 124G rolled off the assembly line at the Okaya factory in 1986 (Kyocera was in “control” and was about to kill off the Yashica name. Yashica’s first TLRs? The Pigeonflex and then the Yashima Flex (1953, 1954).

This model’s serial number is 164216 (roughly 1983) and it’s never been offered for sale before. I purchased it directly from the original owner who kept it unused as part of his collection. It’s been thoroughly tested – the light meter is spot on (I’ve installed a new battery), the shutter is accurate at all speeds, the lenses are crystal clear, and the aperture blades are snappy and oil free. I see only the slightest specs of dust on the reflex mirror inside which is typical (even straight from the factory there was dust as the mirror chamber is not sealed). It’s a joy to use and all controls operate as they should – smooth and precise. I’ve installed new light seals after carefully cleaning away the old ones. The CdS meter is built-in and coupled. BTW, these later model 124Gs are built as rugged as any of Yashica’s previous models – you get the benefits of a newer TLR with a fresher CdS meter with gold contacts. You should be able to use this camera with proper care for another 30 years or more!

It’s available for purchase in my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com or you can buy it directly from here by clicking on the PayPal payment button and get free USA shipping!

Vintage 1983 Yashica-Mat 124G Twin-lens Reflex (TLR) Medium Format Camera (120 or 220 Roll Film) Producing 6×6 cm Negatives & Slides

Nearly new Yashica-Mat 124G TLR that's been completely tested and is in 100% fully operational condition. Open the box, load some film and you're a medium format square shooter! I've installed a new battery and new light seals. It comes with the original plastic Yashica lens cap (correct for this model). This camera is perfect for the discriminating collector or an active photographer. They don't come nicer than this well cared for beauty. It will ship FOR FREE within the USA via USPS Priority Mail and I'll mail it worldwide with some exceptions. Please contact me first for a quote. Thanks, Chris

$475.00

Yashica-Mat EM… on assignment… update 12.9.2016

Another look at one of my favorite Yashicas to use – my Yashica-Mat EM is still going strong (since 1964) and the meter is as accurate as ever. Take a peek at the original post – if you please.

Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic

This month’s assignment (actually from September) is to load some Fujifilm into our Yashica-Mat EM and enjoy the benefits that only medium format film photography can fulfill.

Oh the joys of composing 6 x 6 cm images through a pop-up viewing hood in bright sunlight. What I do find nice is that the focusing dial is on the camera’s left side… a natural place for it to me. The EM has a built-in exposure meter and a ‘computer’, slide rule actually, to adjust the aperture and shutter speeds which you then set by using the two thumb wheels. I’ve learned over the years to use the guess method of focusing – I’ve learned how to judge distances by eye and then I set the focus on the marked dial. If you’re shooting in bright light and use the smallest apertures then the dept of field will cover most inaccuracies in…

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Happy SUNday! – Have you been flashed lately?

It’s easy to forget that at one time getting the right amount of light on your subject was no easy task…

Every one of us with a smartphone carries around a powerful “photo machine” in our pockets or purses. Not that long ago, well really a long time ago now when you think about it, these monsters were the epitome of high tech flash units and cameras in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Yashica Mat EM – 1964

Pictured above are a fully functional Yashica-Mat EM and Yashica PRO 40 Quick-Lite electronic flash. This was “as-simple-as-it-gets” with a medium format camera in that era. The EM has a built-in exposure meter (not a thru-the-lens type) and the PRO 40 was a straight forward light machine. Both units together with the 8 AA batteries and a roll of 120 film weigh in at nearly 4 pounds! Yikes!

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A close-up view of the exposure meter and scales on the Yashica Mat EM.

Going even further back in time, this Yashica Flex S is mated with a Minicam flash unit.

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Yashica Flex S – 1956 with Minicam flash. Powered by two “D” cell batteries.

The Yashica Flex model S also has a built-in selenium cell light meter made by Sekonic (that little thingy attached to the side of the camera). The cells are located behind the nameplate flap which can be opened to gather more light in low-light situations.

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The attached light meter made by Sekonic for Yashica. Here pictured on a Yashica AS-II camera.

The Minicam flash advertised itself as “sunlight at night”! If you can remember back to the days that these types of flash units were used you can agree – they did make “sunlight at night” as you were often blinded for quite some time afterward.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit my camera shop at http://www.ccstudio2380.com for some great vintage cameras and photo gear. – Chris

Please respect that all content, including photos and text, are the property of this blog and its owner, Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Yashica Sailor Boy, Yashica Chris.

Copyright © 2015-2019 Yashica Pentamatic Fanatic, Chris Whelan
All rights reserved.