Dual lens reflex heresy...Yashica 124G

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by m II, Jul 10, 2007.

  1. m II

    m II Guest

    I've picked up a Yashica MAT 124G camera a few days ago. It is in very
    nice shape and I will be taking some pictures in a few days.

    Anyone here have any experience with Kodak Portra film? I got a roll of
    iso 160 12 exposures and I'm wondering what to expect in the way of
    colour and grain.

    Comments welcome..

    m II, Jul 10, 2007
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  2. m II

    Bob AZ Guest

    Great camera. I have one. Not much use anymore since I went digital
    unless there are lots of faces to shoot. Then I use a RB67 and scan
    the negs.

    Be sure to read the book. Film choice is good. Be sure all the shutter
    speeds work so if there is a problem you can work around it. Many pros
    used this camera for a standby. And few could tell the difference
    between the 124G and a hassy.

    Bob AZ
    Bob AZ, Jul 10, 2007
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  3. In case you don't have the manual, I found this online:

    Also Kodak Portra films 160 NC & 160 VC:

    I used Portra film years ago and found it to be excellent it's skin
    tones and softer contrasts.
    helensilverburg, Jul 10, 2007
  4. m II

    babaloo Guest

    I have one of these.
    If you get one in good shape at a reasonable price it can be a great way to
    experience medium format.
    The Yashicamat is not a Hasselblad. The lens is what it is.
    If you understand how to use a flat bed transparency scanner and have never
    worked with negatives or transparencies of this size you may be quite
    surprised at the seamless/grainless appearance of the scans.
    In any event if you appreciate mechanical cameras this a marvelous old
    babaloo, Jul 10, 2007
  5. m II

    Peter Chant Guest

    m II wrote:

    I like the Fuji equivalent and have shot a roll of portra in the past in
    35mm. They scan well and I like them for landscapes as you keep detail in
    the sky and shadows nearly all the time. This gives you something useful
    to play with on the scans.

    Peter Chant, Jul 10, 2007
  6. m II

    Tony Polson Guest

    The camera is a delight to use, with an excellent lens that, when used
    at its sweet spot of around f/8, will compare with the best Zeiss and
    Schneider TLR lenses. It is much softer than these when wide open,
    however, so use that f/3.5 sparingly! Remember also that depth of
    field is considerably less than with 35mm, so accurate focusing is a
    must. Use the flip-up magnifier that is contained within the

    The light meter is reasonably accurate but needs either a PX625 silver
    cell (no longer sold), a Wein zinc-air cell (with a life of only about
    6 months) or a smaller silver cell with an adaptor that includes a
    voltage regulator (best option IMHO). Given that the meter is not the
    greatest, you might instead like to consider buying a hand-held meter
    which may be more useful, especially if it offers incident light
    readings, and is likely to be more accurate.

    Portra film gives a natural rendering of colour with low saturation by
    today's standards and is therefore ideal for portraiture. It has fine
    grain and low contrast, meaning that it can capture high contrast
    scenes without totally blowing out the highlights or filling in the
    shadows. It scans well.

    If printed at a minilab wherethe operator retains standard settings
    for printing consumer-grade film, it will give low contrast prints,
    however most minilabs where 120 film is routinely handled will know to
    use the correct settings for the film, giving sparkling prints that
    will blow you away!
    Tony Polson, Jul 10, 2007

  7. My first job out of college was being the photo janitor at the
    college, run equipment signout, clean darkrooms, mix chemicals etc. We
    used to give kits to every 1st year photo student with a Yashica 124
    in it. Yes the lenses can be good, but they are Tessar 4 element
    lenses and probably have one f stop as a sweet spot, some may not have
    any. We would pick them up for $100 a piece (1974 dollars). One
    interesting note is the repair guy we used, loaning cameras to
    students you need one on call, he had noticed paint on the inside
    panels, one day he calls me and asks me to come right over, he finally
    found something on the inside of the side panel that he could trace, a
    Japanese beer, the side panels were recycled metal. It took him about
    50-100 repairs to trace this, he alway found the side panels to be
    squishy compared to the Minolta TLRs and Rollei TLRs now we knew why.
    Fun camera to work with but not a Hassleblad or a Rollei, will compare
    favorably to a Mamyia TLR or older 645.

    thomas.c.monego, Jul 10, 2007
  8. Congrats! Are you planning to use the camera's meter? If so, you
    should look into PX625 alternatives. The options range from E625G
    cells (inaccurate metering), through Wein Cells (accurate, but short
    in-camera life span), through CrisCam adapters (accurate, but $29.95
    initial investment), through various "roll-your-own" solutions.

    Alternatively, you can use an external light meter or (in a pinch),
    a second camera for metering. Once you have a metering solution, I
    suggest shooting a roll of slides. Viewing your own medium- or large-
    format slides is a jaw-dropping experience.
    Did you get NC or VC? Both have fairly fine grain, but the VC has
    considerably more contrast. The lower contrast of 160NC makes it
    a fine film for traditional wedding photography, and I find 160VC
    is a good choice for costuming and darker skin tones.
    Michael Benveniste, Jul 10, 2007
  9. m II

    Ken Hart Guest

    I had a 124G- nice, simple, rugged camera. I got rid of it because, in the
    studio, parallax error, and the lack of a "portrait lens" made it a problem.
    For location work, it can be very handy.

    I use Kodak Portra 160VC all the time in the studio. I've used 400VC on
    location, but I do little location work anymore. Portra has fine grain. The
    VC ("vivid color") version has a snappy look to it. Some may not like it;
    they should try the NC version.

    The Portra line is very forgiving of poor exposure. You can get a usable
    image at two stops off in either direction.

    Find a processor who knows how to handle the film.
    Ken Hart, Jul 10, 2007
  10. m II

    bob hickey Guest

    These things used to be the standard for baby photographers. Didn't have the
    longevity of a Rollei, but I couldn't tell the difference in the pictures as
    long as I shot at 5.6 or f8. I always had trouble w/ condensation coming in
    from hot to cold. The elements would fog up. Bob Hickey
    bob hickey, Jul 11, 2007
  11. m II

    m II Guest

    I found a Wein cell 1.3 volt battery at the Camera store. It was 14$
    Canadian. (ouch)..that 29.95 doesn't seem so bad after all. I was going
    to get hearing aid batteries and make a little basket for them in the
    battery compartment. They may only last a few months each, but the total
    cost is relatively painless.

    I've been planning to use my Pentax spot meter. It claims a one degree
    divergence to the metering spot. The meter is on older model digital
    read out with an exposure value scale.
    It is the VC version. I'll have the roll developed next week and have
    one or two shots blown up to 13 inch tall prints.

    There is an old rotting log laying near the river bank. I try out all
    new film on that log. The rings on the trunk form very delicate, flowing
    lines with really subtle colour changes from the inner hollow core to
    the blotched, green speckled bark.

    I've had a lot of cameras there..the *ist (D and film), K100D, PZ1P and
    many Spotmatics with their assorted vintage lenses.

    No sane person would have so many shots of ONE fallen tree trunk.

    My next mission is to try some Fuji Reala 100 in the Yashica and a
    Pentax 645 at the same time, with the same subject matter and lighting.
    That should be good for some comparisons.

    m II, Jul 11, 2007
  12. m II

    Peter Guest

    The Wein cell consists of a metal ring and a 675 size zinc air cell.
    You can buy 675 size zinc-air hearing aid cells in packages of
    eight for sane money. You can then re-use the metal ring with
    each cell. You could also probably find a suitable metal ring at a
    hardware store.

    Peter, Jul 11, 2007
  13. m II

    Ken Hart Guest

    Your comment "with really subtle colour changes" suggests that you might
    want to get some Porta NC. The VC is not what you might call "subtle". Be
    sure the lab knows what Portra is. If the printer balance isn't right, the
    results may be less than optimal
    Ken Hart, Jul 11, 2007
  14. m II

    m II Guest

    Thank you kindly. Peter's advice on the ring was very good too. When
    this battery dies, I'll take it apart and try the hearing aid variety.

    Thanks to all who helped out in this sort of off topic thread. The
    medium format is still closer to the spirit of this group than any
    digital can hope to be. I have some digital cameras and they certainly
    serve a purpose, but sometimes I find their substance a bit lacking.

    m II, Jul 12, 2007
  15. m II

    Ken Hart Guest

    I recently saw an item online that said to use the 675 with a proper size
    rubber O-ring, obtained from the local hardware store. The article also said
    that the life of the 675 is about three months as metering battery.
    Ken Hart, Jul 12, 2007
  16. m II

    Tony Polson Guest

    But the 675 has the wrong voltage, and will give incorrect meter
    readings. You need either a Wein zinc/air cell or one of the adapters
    that takea a modern battery but regulates the voltage down to that of
    the correct PX625 mercury cell that is no longer available.
    Tony Polson, Jul 12, 2007
  17. "675" specifies the case size. One can get a 675
    in alkaline, silver, zinc/air ... most button cell
    batteries hanging on the rack in the store are alkalines,
    which are the wrong - though useable - voltage.
    Depends on the camera. If the camera has a battery check
    then it is voltage dependant. If there is no battery check
    button then (usually) voltage doesn't matter within
    reasonable bounds: anywhere from 1 to 2 volts will work.

    Some voltage-dependent cameras/meters will work if the
    ASA is adjusted. If alkalines are used then the voltage
    should be checked and the battery changed when it
    deviates enough from new so as to affect readings -
    something that will have to be determined by the camera's
    owner - a technique that only works on cameras with a
    meter needle.

    There are oodles of articles on the subject on www.
    Nicholas O. Lindan, Jul 12, 2007
  18. m II

    m II Guest

    I wonder if the voltage difference could be adjusted for by the ISO
    setting...How much of an iso equivalence would 0.2 volts give?

    For example, if 1.5 volts is good at iso 200, would 1.3 volts be good
    for iso 160? If this is possible, then setting the camera to a slightly
    different iso than the film rating would compensate.

    Has anyone tried this?

    Older cameras with a variable +-EV setting perhaps could be set this
    way. Mind you, I think the old Pentax bodies used a bridge circuit in
    the metering, so slight voltage variations would be automatically
    canceled out.

    m II, Jul 13, 2007
  19. m II

    Tony Polson Guest

    Yes, and the results are very variable. Universally, you will get
    underexposure rather than overexposure. The difference varies between
    approximately 1 and 3 stops, and is not linear. In other words, the
    error is not constant but differs for different light levels.

    Some years ago I compared my 124G with the correct mercury cell and
    found a difference between 1.3 stops and 2.3 stops, depending on EV.
    You're right about Pentax. A few Canon cameras also had the bridge
    circuit, notably the Canonet G-III QL17, but even that gave enough of
    an error to make exposing slide film a real problem.

    Given the availabiity of an inexpensive voltage regulator that allows
    the use of inexpensive, easily available and long lasting cells, and
    gives consistent, accurate and reliable light meter readings, trying
    to cope with the unpredictable meter readings caused by a decision to
    use the wrong battery seems to me just plain silly.
    Tony Polson, Jul 13, 2007
  20. m II

    m II Guest

    Merely 'plain silly'? That's hardly any sort of deterrent at all. Had
    you said 'extraordinarily silly' or 'bordering on the Annika silly' I'd
    have given far greater credence to your missive...

    mike (indecent exposures 'R' us) II
    m II, Jul 14, 2007
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