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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.