Camera review: Me and My Yashica-D (80mm f/3.5) TLR by Ed Worthington
Hi everybody, my name is Ed Worthington, although I go by my pseudonym of “The 6 Million P Man” when it comes to anything photographic*.
I’ve been shooting film for a little over three years now and sharing the images on my blog for around two of those. At first it was something to just try out when I used my grandfather’s Canon AE-1 and then quickly developing into a passion, or mild obsession if you prefer, to the point where I own probably far too many cameras and have garnered a reputation among people I know as the guy to give old photography equipment to as what else would they do with it otherwise?
Today I’m going to talk about one of these beautiful little machines, my Yashica D. Here’s what’s covered in this review:
First off a little background around the camera, it was purchased for, what I consider to be, the bargain price of around £45 from eBay and quickly became one of my favourites. This may be because it was my first foray into medium format or perhaps it was because it was such a different shooting experience to what I had previously had…or perhaps it was just because I’m a sucker for nostalgia?
Whatever the reason it made me want to tell others about it, hence this article.
The Yashica D was manufactured between 1958 and 1972, it’s a pretty standard Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera that takes 120 film and creates 6×6 images.
Early models (which is what mine is), featured 80mm f/3.5, 3-element Yashikkor viewing and taking lenses. Later models updated the taking lens with 80mm f/2.8 4-element Yashinon, making it easier to focus in lower light situations.
The lens can stop down to f/22 and like all Yashica TLRs intermediate apertures can be selected due to it’s “clickless” design. The Yashica-D’s Copal MXV leaf shutter can fire from 1/500th sec doewn to 1 second and has a bulb mode.
What I find wonderfully interesting about the shutter is the fact you have to select the shutter speed, then cock the shutter before firing. If you try to change the shutter speed after it’s been cocked it’ll break.
So I’m going to apologise straight off the bat to anyone who has used a TLR before but I’m going to make the assumption that no one reading this has, and talk about how to actually use this thing.
First up you’re going to need to load her up with some film. To do that you need to twist the metal ring on the baseplate which unlocks the back and pops it open.
Pop in your roll of 120 film, stretch it along the back of the camera from bottom to top and wind it along until the “start here” arrows line up with the little red arrow on the inside of the camera.
Close her up and re-lock it with the ring on baseplate.
Next up you’ll need to wind the film on until the little red “S” on the frame counter has gone and you’ve reach the “1” (see image below).
There we go, all set to start shooting.
To take an image you’ll need to pop the top of the camera up and reveal the big and bright viewfinder, with its clearly marked red framing lines for help with composition.
Popping the viewfinder open makes a very satisfying metallic noise when it opens and closes, believe me!
As this is a TLR you’re not technically seeing exactly what the camera will capture what camera will capture when you take an image, but as long as you’re not ridiculously close to your subject there shouldn’t be any problem with the parallax effect.
There main knob on the right side of the body for focusing, and you select shutter speed and aperture by the way of two small dials on the front of the camera either side of the lenses.
There is no light meter on the Yashica D so you’ll have to use an external one, of like me just rely on the Sunny 16 rule. Once you’re all set with that you need to cock the shutter, done by the way of a small lever on the side of the taking lens, and then fire the shutter by way of the shutter release button below that.
See doesn’t all that sound easy?
I personally love my Yashica D, it’s one of those cameras I just take great pleasure from when shooting with.
It’s not too difficult to use but needs just the just the right amount before snapping away that slows me down to really think about what I’m doing. Not having a light meter can be annoying at times and yes, having to cock the shutter before firing it can be a little testing but I use this for landscape work not sports, so I’m hardly needing to be firing off a hundred shots in quick succession.
Here are a few photographs I’ve taken with my Yashica-D:
I think the images it produces are pretty good, I’ve used far better lenses and far better cameras but none of those cost me forty five pounds. Also it’s one of the few cameras that people will stop and talk to me about when I’m out and about with it, especially the older generation who remember such things from their youth. I do have some conversation starter cameras in my collection but this is probably the one I get asked the most questions about when I’m using it.
Would I recommend it? Perhaps.
It’s a lovely thing to use but I can see where it might be considered too fiddly or lacking in features to not be to everyone’s taste, it is to mine.
I’ll leave you with a few more photographs, thanks for reading.
~ Ed Worthington
* …long story short, the name comes from the fact I have a load of metal plates in my face and similar to the 6 Million Dollar Man, they had the technology and rebuilt me, albeit for a much cheaper price than 6 million Dollars.
Yashica D specifications
|Manufacturer||Yashica Company, Ltd (Japan)|
|Camera type||Twin Lens Reflex|
|Film Format||120 rollfilm|
Early models: Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 (both viewing and taking lens)
Later models: Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 and Yashinon 80mm f/2.8 (viewing and taking lenses respectively)
|Shutter||Copal MXV leaf shutter|
1 sec - 1/500 sec + bulb mode
|Accessories||A "Leica Nipple" is required to use a cable shutter.|
|Color / trim options|
(metal / leather)
|Charcoal Gray / Gray|
Burgundy / Warm grey
Golden Brown / dark cream
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