The Yashica Mat Overview

October 04, 2014  •  3 Comments

Yashica Mat, Ilford XP2, 1/100 @ f/3.5

Last month, I had the chance to borrow an original Yashica Mat for two weeks.  Thank you to Peter Ciokan, who owns the Foto Art photography store in Owen Sound, for lending this camera to me!  Foto Art has an excellent wide-ranging film camera museum, which this camera was borrowed from!

Yashica Mat, Ilford XP2, 1/250 @ f/16

The Yashica Mat was produced in Japan from 1957 until around 1973.  It is a medium format twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera, that takes 120 film, which is still widely available.  You get 12 photos per roll using 120 film in a 6x6 camera.  The Yashica Mat takes 6x6 square photos, and if properly scanned, you can easily end up with files in the range of 40-50 megapixels.  This was my first time using a medium format film camera, and I was quite impressed by the results!  The detail and dynamic range are fantastic, and I'm looking forward to printing some of the photos in this post over the next few weeks!

Yashica Mat, Ilford XP2, 1/250 @ f/16

As I mentioned above, the Yashica Mat is a TLR camera.  There are two lenses on the front of the camera.  The bottom lens contain a leaf shutter, and is used to take the photos.  The top lens is the viewing lens, which uses a mirror to reflect the image onto a ground glass, which you view through the waist-level finder.  Similarly to rangefinders, the viewfinder accuracy is better at longer distances, due to parallax error at close distances.  I only took a few photos close to the minimum focusing distance, but I didn't have any issues with framing accuracy.

Yashica Mat, Ilford XP2, 1/500 @ f/16

The Yashica Mat has shutter speeds between 1 second to 1/500th, in addition to bulb.  Early models used 75mm f/3.5 lenses, but this was changed to 80mm f/3.5 lenses in later models, including the one that I used.  This roughly equates to a 50mm f/2.5 lens in 35mm terms.  The resolving power of the lenses is rather impressive considering the taking lens has a fairly simple 4 element design, and also considering that the lenses are now 50+ years old!

Yashica Mat, Ilford XP2, 1/250 @ f/8

The Yashica Mat is fairly small, and light enough that you can easily carry it around for hours at a time.  The leaf shutter allows you to handhold the camera while using slow shutter speeds, due to a lack of mirror and shutter vibrations.  The shutter is also almost silent, to the point where when I took my first photo, I wondered if the shutter had actually opened!  Due to the way they look, TLRs are fairly conspicuous cameras, and if you're using one in a public area they will likely attract some attention.  This can be good for street photography, as in my experience people are almost always open to being photographed with them.

Yashica Mat, Ilford FP4, 1/2 @ f/11

After a bit of getting used to the 6x6 format, I really enjoyed shooting square photos!  It is a a bit of a different shooting mentality compared to 35mm, but before long I was seeing square compositions everywhere!

Yashica Mat, Ilford FP4, 1/250 @ f/11

The Yashica Mat was an excellent introduction to medium format film, and I really enjoyed my time with it!  The original Yashica Mat can be purchased used for under $100, and the more modern Yashica Mat 124G can also be found in the $150-$250 range.

I will be posting more photos from the Yashica Mat over the next few days, including photos from a recent trip to Pelee Island!


Comments

Jared(non-registered)
My stepdad just gave me one of these to give to my brother. It's a really interesting camera. My brother loves using film so it'll be cool to see what he ends up shooting.
Brendan Toews Photography
Thank you Dave! It was a great camera to work with, and I found I was quite happy with the 6x6 format as well. I'll be keeping my eye out for a 124G in the coming months!
Dave Fouchey(non-registered)
Brendan when I was in High School in 1969 & 1970 as a yearbook photographer the camera I used was a Yashica Mat, I absolutely loved this camera. At that time I shot Kodak 120 & 220 color print film as well as B & W. It was the very first "real" camera I ever shot with and wish it had belonged to me and not the school! Man you did good work.

Dave Fouchey
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