Yashica-D: The “other” Twin Lens Reflex Camera

October 08, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

A mighty fine imitation that is often overlooked, you’ll find that the Yashica-D is quite a camera. Here is my impression of this finely built medium format camera that can be bought for a song.

IMG_0775

With the discovery of Vivian Maier‘s work and the release of her books, launching a craze for the often ignored Twin Lens Reflex camera, I’ve witnessed the rise in prices for the Rolleiflex f/2.8 camera. Previously averaging for around $300-$400, you can now find a clean working model for around $700-$1,100. Understandably so. The late Ms. Maier has opened the floodgates for the usual imitators to crawl out from under their pile of “fad cameras” and snag one of these beautifully made classics. A few years from now, when the novelty wears out, and they come to grips with the limitations of these cameras and move on. But this is about the alternative.

Exposure settings window

Exposure settings window

The Yashica-D

I recently won this beauty on ebay for a steal at $19.95. It was listed as “as-is” as the seller knew nothing about cameras. I took the chance on it because there are times you get lucky (most times, not). The shutter on this camera was jammed, a common issue with this model, and the leatherette was missing from the front of the camera indicating that someone had tried to work on the camera previously. A replacement leatherette section can be ordered from cameraleather.com

I had managed to unjam the shutter and get a roll of 120 film through the camera. Firing off the 12 shots around my neighborhood, I looked for situations that would run the gambit of shutter speeds. I knew the aperture was working correctly, so that wasn’t an issue. It was an overcast day which was perfect for assessing the len’s contrast. My initial exposure with open cloudy sky was 1/500 (top speed) at f/4. In the shade, I was shooting at a 1/125 at f/4 then 1/30 at f/8. I had my favorite, Ilford HP5 Plus ISO 400 speed film, loaded for this test.

Film Advance and Focusing Knob

Film Advance and Focusing Knob

Holding the camera was a bit of a challenge as there is no true grip for this type built in. It took me a few moments to figure that out as working the Yashica-D is a two handed operation. I found that by placing the base of the camera in my left palm was the most stable grip for this camera. I used my left index finger to trip the shutter. My right hand cocked the shutter, focused and advanced the film. I found using my thumbs on the knobs that are positioned on either side of the twin lenses to change aperture and shutter speeds.

The next obstacle I found was through the viewing lens. The image is right-side up, however, the scene is flipped horizontally. This really can tax your mind at first as you are trying to compose and level the camera for the first half-dozen shots.

shot with Yashica-D

shot with Yashica-D

Once I got used to using the camera, I fell in love with it. Like most tools, a well built camera should ultimately be a total pleasure to work with. The large 6×6 centimeter focusing screen gives you a 1 to 1 sight of what you are capturing. The 12 frame limit doesn’t bother me at all. It forces you to consider the shot, wasting less film (a good habit to be carried over to digital). Would I use it for street photography? Eventually. It is rather large, about the size of a pound cake. It attracts attention these days as it looks like no other camera in today’s market.

So if you are a budget conscious enthusiast looking to get into shooting medium format film and want something that is complete and ready to work for you right out of the bubble wrap, I highly recommend the Yashica-D. For you geeks out there, scroll down for the specs.

taken with Yashica-D

taken with Yashica-D

Camera Specs:

  • Film 120 roll, picture size 6x6cm
  • Taking lens: Yashinon 80mm f/3.5, four elements, Bayonet I filter mount
    • Early models were equipped with coated three-element Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 viewing and taking lenses
    • The last Yashica-D models were equipped with bright 80mm f/2.8 Yashinon viewing lenses; models with this viewing lens and the Yashinon taking lens are very desirable on the used market.
  • Aperture: up to f/22, setting: by a thumb wheel just above the left side of the taking lens, aperture and speed numbers are visible in a coupled small window just above the taking lens
  • Focus range: 1-20m +inf
  • Viewing lens: Yashinon/Yashikor 80mm f/2.8
  • Focusing: Fresnel ground glass screen, via a big knob on the right side of the camera, w/ DOF scale
  • Shutter: Copal MXV leaf shutter, speeds: 1-1/500 +B; setting: a thumb wheel just above the right side of the taking lens
    • Attention: do not change the speed after cocking the shutter
  • Shutter release: on the right lower front side of the camera, over-lap type cable release can be fitted on the release knob
  • Cocking lever: on the shutter behind the taking lens
  • Frame counter: automatic resets, visible in a small window above the focusing knob
  • Winding knob: right upper side of the camera, w/ film release button on the center of it; after a frame winding it locks, (no double exposure prevention, shutter can be released)
  • Viewfinder: TLR waist level hood finder, Fresnel screen with grid lines, w/ flip up magnifying loop and flip down center for the sports finder
  • Exposure meter: none
  • Flash PC socket: left front upper side of the camera
  • Flash sync: all speeds for M, 1/60 for X,
  • Sync MX selector lever behind the aperture wheel
  • Cold-shoe
  • Memory dial : ASA/DIN, on the winding knob
  • Self-timer: lever on the shuttter, synch.lever must be on X position
  • Back cover: hinged, opens by a locking lever and ring on the bottom of the camera
  • Loading: red triangle: inside of the camera back, for adjusting film arrow when loading, after closing the cover the letter S appears in the counter window automatically, then turn the knob until 1 appears in the window.
  • Tripod socket: 1/4
  • Strap lugs
  • Serial no. on top of the name plate

Thanks for checking this review out! This is my first of many. Comments and critiques are welcomed

 

My next test and review will be on the Yashica Electro 35 GT. A very innovative camera for it’s time.

All images on this post are © 2013 Filipe N Marques. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited.



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