Last year I had been looking into getting a new camera. I love my Mamiya 7 a lot but the only limitations seemed to be with the lack of minimum focus, especially when taking portraits. I had done a portrait series with the Mamiya 7 with great success but only being able to get within a metres distance was not close for me with other portrait ideas I had.
I was researching various other medium format cameras including the Pentax 67, Hasselblad 500 and some others. But then I saw a guy selling a Yashica Mat 124G. It was a decent price and the examples sent through looked impressive. But after talking to a friend, Andy Braithwaite, he suggested giving his Yashica Mat a go first before making a purchase.
I went and met up with Andy and picked up the camera. He gave me a few pointers about how to use it and then I went ahead and started shooting. For starters, the Yashica is a TLR, which means it has two lenses, one for focusing and one for shooting/capturing images. You operate the camera by looking through the viewfinder on top and the shutter button is at the button of the front of the camera. I always wanted to use a TLR because they look so cool and remind me of amazing photographers of previous generations.
But they are tricky to use. Because it is a TLR, everything is back to front. If you move the camera to the right, the image in the viewfinder moves to the left. So composing is very tricky because you natural move in one direction to compose but you actually have to think about it and go the opposite direction. I found myself missing critical moments for a photograph because I was trying to get the composition right. But if you were to use this camera enough, you would get faster and be able to use fairly easily.
During the time I borrowed the camera, I was dating a great girl named Katie (you can see some photos of her in this post). Over the next couple of months, we went on little adventures up to the Central Coast, the Northern Beaches, Little Bay and lots of other spots around Sydney. I put a couple of rolls of expired film through the camera to test it out at first, which are the colours photos. Once I was comfortable enough using it, I put a couple of rolls of black white. I was quite happy with how all the photos turned out but realised after a couple of months that it wasn’t quite the right camera for me. I still felt my Mamiya 7 was superior in many different aspects and I couldn’t really justify the cost of buying one, especially when I am trying to keep my gear down to a minimum for travelling reasons.
But it was a a great experience and I managed to capture some great photos along the way.