Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shooting the Yashica-Mat

I took my Yashica-Mat for a walk this morning at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden.  It is a camera that deserves more attention than I have given it.  The medium format negatives and the excellent resolution of the Lumaxar lens yield startling sharpness.
    The camera is light for its size, but still a bit awkward to handle, like most twin lens reflex cameras.  With the shutter release on the right and the focus on the left, one is constantly juggling the camera to arrive at an exposure.  What overcomes most of that problem is the addition of a hand grip.  With that accessory in place, it is then possible to reach all the controls without moving either hand very much.  A Bay 1 lens hood is also a worthwhile addition.
    A tangential benefit of carrying the Yashica-Mat is that it never fails to attract interest and friendly conversation.  Many younger people have obviously never seen a tlr before, and the camera often sparks nostalgia in the older photographers.


Jim Grey said...

I do less juggling with my Yashica-D given that the focus knob and shutter button are on the same side of the camera. But if you want an onboard light meter on one of these, you have to take the focus knob being on the opposite side.

Mike said...

Right, that's another consideration in using the Yashica-Mat, and another reason to use a grip that has an accessory shoe. I'm comfortable guessing exposures outdoors, but it is nice to have a meter handy for any indoor shooting.

JR Smith said...

A little fumbling yields satisfying results.

I get the same reaction when I take my Polaroid SX-70 downtown. People of my vintage will say..."Hey, I had one of those!" Kids will stop and be amazed that I can take a photograph and a print spits out the front.

Mike said...

I never really developed an interest in Polaroid, but it was unquestionably a great icebreaker that digital has not effectively replaced. There is a mention of that use of instant prints in today's NYT Lens feature about A 1970S documentary project about Kentucky.

JR Smith said...

I rarely shoot mine. I bought the SX-70 more out of curiosity than anything else. The Impossible Project film for it is wildly expensive.

I just read today that Leica has introduced its first ever instant camera.

Mike said...

Polaroid film cost was always a big issue for me. I recall it was around a dollar a shot. If you wanted to explore a subject and take some chances along the way, that was way beyond practical. I suppose that for a photographer who was very disciplined and interested in portraits or still life the film cost would not have been such a big deal, but it just wasn't compatible with my style of working. I'm ok to a limited degree to working with a bit more discipline in order to shoot 6x9 or 6x6 where the cost can rise to about half of what Polaroid requires. For spontaneity, however, you can't beat 35mm in terms of film cost and available exposures per roll. Also, modern films in both b&w and color have achieved a fantastic level of resolution, so there is not much of a quality penalty to shooting in a small format.