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Yashica Mat 124G

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In my early days of doing night photography, I relied on my trusty Nikon FE. If you are a beginner to this type of photography, I'd highly recommend the Nikon FE as a 35mm option. It's rugged, and has a very sensitive auto exposure mode that I've found very useful for night photography. When I was using the FE, having it pick exposure times that run for many minutes that gave perfectly usable negatives was the norm.

Yashica Mat 124g

From 2001 though 2003, the Nikon FE was a great camera for me and my night photography endeavors. Then I got a taste for the crisp images that large format cameras provide and the 35mm results didn't cut it for me anymore for any work where I'd be using a tri-pod. I experimented with using some large format equipment for night shooting, and have made some really excellent images with it, such as Moonbeams, Overpass. But, the camera was slow to operate, and I wanted to remain highly mobile and be a ghost in the night, yet still have a larger negative then 35mm. So I made a compromise by making my Yashica Mat 124G as my main night photography camera and used it for that purpose from 2007-2009.

Pros of the Yashica Mat 124G

  • Large Negative: While not nearly as large as the 4x5 equipment I often use, the Yashica Mat still records an image 3.6x larger then 35mm. I find the extra resolution to be quite welcome.

    35mm film format vs 6x6 film format

  • Compact: Compared to the FE with lens, the 124G only weights 1/5th of an ounce more, and is roughly the same proportions, while still having that nice larger negative.

  • Slop Factor: This point will probably upset the full frame purists in some way. With a 35mm system, I don't like having to crop any of the frame out before the final print. The negative is already at a size where it doesn't take much cropping to start being detrimental to the quality of the final print.

    With the 124G, I know that the ground glass shows slightly less then what gets recorded on the negative. I still compose for what is on the ground glass, and just consider this extra area that gets recorded stuff I can easily crop away if I didn't get a horizontal or vertical element spot on. With the negative being as large as it is, this reduction in size is barely noticeable, if at all.

  • Very quiet shutter: This is great if you want to do street photography. I've taken photos with it, and wasn't even sure if it had fired since I didn't hear the shutter noise. Which leads me to the next point.

  • Fun to use for street photography: Some extensive thoughts about street photography with a twin lens reflex camera like the Yashica Mat 124G can be found in my article Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) Street Shooting

Cons of the 124G

Using the 124G

  • Reloading: Your mileage may vary on this con. For me, having to reload after every twelfth exposure in itself isn't much of an issue. The issue though, is that I live in northern Minnesota and have a fetish for shooting during snow storms. I have yet to figure out a way to reload without having to take my gloves off. Cold hands are unhappy hands.

  • Doesn't fit my tripod well. I'm currently using a Manfrotto 808RC4 tri-pod head that uses the RC4 quick release plates. Neither of the Yashica Mats that I own attach nicely to the RC4 plates due to the little feet on the bottom of the cameras. The feet on the Yashica Mats make the attachment to the quick release plates seldom level, which makes using the spirit levels on the tripod head rather worthless.

  • Non Modular: All too often I'll be out with it loaded with black and white film and will pass by a scene that I feel would be much strong in color. A modular medium format camera would allow me to pack both color film, and black and white film two choose from for each shot without having to bring two cameras.

  • ali

    please show me more photose

  • http://wayoutwest.tumblr.com Harry Snowden

    I picked up a Yashica Mat 124G on the advise of a college instructor in the 1980’s.
    I’ve used it ever since. It has a sharp-as-a-tack-lens and a very functional light meter if you shade it from stray light! Get one if you can.

  • Judith

    What tripod do you use with the Yashica Mat 124G? Do you find that using a lens hood is necessary? Thanks

  • Jamie

    I too have a Manfrotto tripod, and I have found that the pan/tilt video head works nicely because the base is large enough for all four legs on the Yashicamat to rest squarely on the head. Of course, you lose quick release with this setup.

  • Pingback: Yashica Mat 124G: Women and Dreams « TLRgraphy()

  • sid

    don't you think this tripod setup is overkill? considering the size and weight of the camera.