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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:

 

 

The Camera

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.

Yashica D - Front

Yashica D – Front

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.

 

 

Basic Use

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.

Yashica D - Rear - Film door pressure plate

Yashica D – Rear – Film door pressure plate

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.

Yashica D - Bottom - Tripod mount and film door lock

Yashica D – Bottom – Tripod mount and film door lock

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.

Yashica D - Right - Focus wheel and film reminder

Yashica D – Right – Focus wheel and film reminder

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?

 

 

Final thoughts

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:

Yashica D - Reeds

Yashica D – Reeds

Yashica D - Pier and Pebbles

Yashica D – Pier and Pebbles

Yashica D - Low Tide

Yashica D – Low Tide

Yashica D - Clouds

Yashica D – Clouds

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

 

Yashica D - Pig

Yashica D – Pig

Yashica D - Photography

Yashica D – Photography

Yashica D - Hillside Path

Yashica D – Hillside Path

Yashica D - Daffodils

Yashica D – Daffodils

Yashica D - Clouds And Water

Yashica D – Clouds And Water

Yashica D - Bay 4

Yashica D – Bay 4

Yashica D - Autumn

Yashica D – Autumn

 

 

* …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

ManufacturerYashica Company, Ltd (Japan)
Camera nameYashica-D
Camera typeTwin Lens Reflex
Film Format120 rollfilm
Picture size6x6
Manufacture dates1958-72
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)
Viewfinder coverage100%
ShutterCopal MXV leaf shutter
1 sec - 1/500 sec + bulb mode
AccessoriesA "Leica Nipple" is required to use a cable shutter.
MeteringNone
FlashN/A
PowerN/A
Weight
Color / trim options
(metal / leather)
Charcoal Gray / Gray
Burgundy / Warm grey
Golden Brown / dark cream
Dimensions
(appx)

 

 

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About The Author

Ed Worthington

By day a mild mannered office worker, by other days a mild mannered street/landscape photographer and film obsessive. from Cardiff in the UK. Lover of all things glass, brass and old leather smelling.

6 Comments

  1. So nice to see the D getting some love. I have one that my then girlfriend, now wife gave me for an anniversary present in college. I love the images I get out of it and despite having tried many other MF cameras I keep coming back to it.

    Reply
  2. I’ve had my Yash 124G for about four years now and love it but the D and other older models certainly have an allure to them.

    Reply
    • Oh absolutely, the 124G is a marvelous camera, definitely easier to use and more practical than the older models. Still, I love the Yash D, the Yashikkor triplet lens is just marvelous, and it was the last really great TLR they made out of almost all metal parts. Yashica as a whole has made some questionable cameras during their run, especially their SLRs, but I have not ever and probably will never be disappointed by any Yashica TLR, young or old. Wonderful machines, all of them.

      Reply
    • Agreed on most counts 😉 Their 35mm SLRs weren’t all terrible but there were some doozies over the years. Much like you, I’ve yet to meet a Yashica TLR I didn’t like. Especially those tiny super slide models. Looking at doing a 35mm conversion on one as we speak and MUCH cheaper than a baby Rollei.

      Reply
  3. I’m with you: the Yashica-D is wonderful, full stop.

    I also own a Yashica-12, crank-wound with an integrated meter, and I think I get a smidgen more joy from the simpler Y-D.

    Reply
  4. There’s too much hype around the Yashica Mat 124. My Yashica D is one of the best cameras I own, some of my favorite photos have been taken on it.

    Reply

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