You know all that medium-format stuff I was going on about with my Grandfather’s Halina A1? I’ve been bitten with the MF bug well and truly since then, commandeering the kitchen on a Sunday evening to develop whatever film I’d experimented with that week and going to bed with my fingers stinking of fixing fluid. I’ve also been painfully aware that Grandad’s Halina is a delicate thing – not an expensive item but certainly I’m emotionally attached to it and bits of it fell off long before it was in my custody! I’d already resolved a while back to get another MF setup for proper photography work, carefully digging through the pros and cons of Bronica, Rollei and Mamiya setups…
Then last week I acquired a Yashica MAT-124G medium-format twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera from Harrison Cameras in Sheffield. I’d been keeping an eye on their website and they do a great job of tweeting what secondhand kit has arrived – it’s a 10 minute walk from where I currently work in Sheffield so it was a bit of a no-brainer. The guy who served me took the time to walk me through the device which was substantially different to the Halina A1 in operation, and off I went with a fresh spool of Ilford Delta 400 loaded.
Once I’d got the hang of cocking the shutter (which hadn’t been covered in the shop) I started taking photos. I blew a stack of film over the weekend trying different things – in the park, inside Unity Hall, and at a gig. It’s definitely a lot sharper than the Halina (especially at the edges) and is much easier to focus, although in low light it’s still a pain as I can’t see what aperture or exposure time I’ve got it set to. It’ll be fine for acoustic gigs though.
The internal light meter had been frigged with a modern battery cell (it’s meant to take Mercury cells which aren’t made any more) and consequently there’s about a stop and a half overexposure if you go by the light meter itself. After the first couple of films the overexposure was pretty obvious so I spent a few hours comparing the on-body meter with a proper hand-held meter: it’s a linear difference so fairly simple to compensate, thankfully.
Overall, no buyer’s remorse yet and the remote trigger works fine with it. I’m looking forward to photographing the Rhubarb Bomb 5th Birthday this weekend (maybe with a flashgun as well), there are acoustic and eclectic acts which will work nicely on that format. Results, as always, will be posted on Flickr.
September 28, 2020 at 8:58 am
Anything is better than a Halina A1, but the Yashica 124G is light years above it, and will give you top of the range quality which you will struggle to tell the difference from shots taken on a Hasselblad. Enjoy.