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.
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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.
* …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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Not a negative comment, but I find it hilarious that people would would post blogs on the internet after shooting film for two years…you haven’t even come close to the concept of film photography! I started back in 1966, and have shot everything from Kodachrone 25 on 35mm, to 8×10 Polaroid, and a plethora of film stocks, including B&W, C41, E6 and Polaroids in all formats in between. Although I congratulate you on embracing this diminishing medium, know that there is a multitude of experiences you can never have, as some of the greatest and most iconic film emulsions/formats no longer exist.
Keep exploring this medium – it has endless possibilities!
EDIT: Context on the formatting.
I would add at the end of your comment Luis that even though some of us have been shooting for decades, not months, there still is a lot more to learn and experience. That’s all part of the fun.
Let’s be frank. This is not only a negative comment; it is rude, non-constructive, narrow-minded, and dull fappery. Suggesting that the measure of value in photographic experience to oneself and others is measured in the number of years spent making photographs is frankly ridiculous and utterly against the reason this platform exists.
Additionally, this article was posted nearly 6 years ago. I’m left wondering if a better approach on your part here might not have been to ask the author what more they have experienced in the intervening years…as opposed to (1) gatekeeping the enjoyment and sharing of their experiences with others and (2) telling them that whatever experience they have can’t possibly live up to yours. Honestly, anything different would be an improvement at this point.
I’m glad you found the time to read Ed’s article. I encourage you to read the others he’s posted here. If you feel it necessary to comment on this or other content in the future, we would all appreciate it if you took the time to previsualise the scene you are about to frame with your words before submitting it in the haze of what appears to be the decisive moment.
In the spirit of offering positive guidance (and this website’s community policy), some visual edits have been made to your comment above.
The Yashica D was the first camera I ever captured images on while still in high school here in the U.S. My best friend talked me into joining the yearbook staff as a photographer despite the fact that I owned no equipment whatsoever. Luckily the school had one they loaned me. Moreover, they had an entire darkroom, completely equipped, hidden in the bowels of the school! I never knew until the yearbook advisor showed me. Once I went on to college I missed that camera and as soon as I could get a job and make a little money while in school, I found a good used one and still have it over 40 years later. I don’t recall what lens my 1st one had but the one I own now has the Yashinon lens and I can tell you it compares very favorably against my Rolleiflex 6008 Pro with its 80mm Zeiss. At least that’s what the Fuji 400, Kodak Portra 400, and Ilford XP-2 Super high resolution negative scans show me. These results have typically been stopped down a bit (f5.6 to f8), but gratifying nonetheless. I just can’t see myself ever parting with this camera. Great write up by the way.
A fine essay, very nostalgic for me – the Yashica D was my first ‘serious’ camera, bought in 1962 for a whopping CDN$36 from a mail order company in Montreal my dad worked for as a door-to-door seller in New Brunswick (Canada) – I shot hundreds of rolls of Kodak Verichrome Pan with it, of everything I saw around me as a young teenage school kid, family, our cats, my grandparents’ farm, local landscapes, ultimately progressing to haphazard news photos for two provincial newspapers, then weddings, portraits and babies. My D served me well until 1966 when I had saved enough to buy a Rolleiflex 3.5E2, after which it mostly sat in a cabinet in my bedroom for eight years. Then in 1974 I went travelling long-term for the first time, four months in southeast Asia, so I dusted off the D, bought 20 rolls of Fujicolor and 20 rolls of Tri-X (yes, imagine, TXP in tropic light!!) and set off on a wayward journey starting in Bali and ultimately ending in Sri Lanka. Never once did that D fail me at anything I photographed with it – those were the days when any images taken in Asia could find ready markets and I sold many of my shots through a now long-closed stock photo agency in Toronto, one of my B&W shots of a temple in Bali was even transmogrified into a two-page color spread in a magazine in Europe but the publishers then tried to get away with paying the ‘monochrome’ fee for the photo, but we persevered and in the end I got the higher fee for a color image. Yes, the good old days…
Time passed and in the mid-’70s I relocated to Australia from North America (by then I had moved to New Mexico and
i was ekeing out a haphazard living as a writer-photographer in Santa Fe and then Taos, a wonderful five years intwo magical places I have long regretted giving up even if it was economically unsustainable for me even in those halcyon times. Anyway, my two TLRs came with me and the D found new uses during my explorations of the Australian bush, by then I had evolved to using Ektachrome for color slides which publishers found more suitable for their printed images. The D kept functioning and shooting and always producing the results – the more fussy slide films necessitated my giving up my budget Sekonic exposure meter for a Gossen Lunasix which I still own and use – the Sekonic’s more basic selenium cell finally gave up the ghost and this ancient meter is now a shelf queen in my camera display cabinet at home.
Moving on – the D was used less and less in the ’80s and finally in the mid 1990s I gave it away to a camera club in Ballarat, Australia, in 2006 when I was last in contact with the remaining club members it was till in use and making good images even if time-worn and rather decrepit and little used by the club as by then digital had reared its ugly head. Interestingly, my ‘flex also shows its age even if at 61 years (according to the Rolleiclub it was made in 1961) still performs well, but then it was much more coddled than my Yashica and less hard used.
Suffices to say that a well-made camera (by this I mean the D) used with care and maintained will go on shooting and producing good images for a long time, even for a lifetime, as all my images and also the (I rate them as outstandingly good) photographs by the author of this article show. If memory serves me right I had my Yashica serviced one time in the early 1980s, it needed only a CLA and some minor adjustments to the speeds and f/stop settings. Those cameras were built to last – if you have the opportunity to buy one at a reasonable price, don’t hesitate to grab it, 120 film is still affordable in most places (not here in Australia!!) and you will get many memorable shots from your vintage Made In Japan TLR.
Again, a most interesting and well-written essay by the writer. Let us have more of your work, please.
JD in Melbourne Australia
PS One poster asked for recommendations on films. In this day and age I’ve found that almost all 120 films on the market will give you great results and very fine big enlargements if you want them. I suggest you avoid ilford Pan F and Rollei 25 as they are annoyingly fickle film to work with and too high-contrasty, also slow for most handheld photo situations. All other films will be okay.
Mine had two flash modes, M and X. If using a strobe you had to set it for X. I learned that lesson the hard way and ruined a set of excellent nudes.
Back in my film days I had an Olympus OM2 SLR and Mamiya C220 TLR. I sold both to go digital but a friend just gave me an old Yashica D he had in his garage. The mirror was loose but I’ve managed to reattach it. Looking forward to shooting some B&W with it next week.
However I’ve noticed the focusing scale seems very inaccurate compared to the viewfinder, have you noticed the same or has my “repair” knocked the focus out perhaps?
Hi, wondering if there is a specific 120 film type/brand you would recommend for the Yashica D?
Try over-expose little bit. It will pop up colors on the color film.
Thank you for the helpful information and review! I would love to know more about the Hillside Path photograph, ie, aperture, shutter speed, film ISO and weather conditions? It’s a beautiful photograph!
Hi, glad you enjoyed it. Of course, that image was shot near Rudry which is a small village near Caerphilly in South Wales where I am from. If I remember rightly this was on a Winter afternoon so although it looks relatively bright it wasn’t particuarly wamr. The film was FujiPro 160s and shot at f8 1/125th sec. I generally only shoot Sunny 16 when I use this camera as it lacks a light meter.
Great article and fine photographs! I posess a Yashica D with a 2.8/80 Yashinon viewing lens and a Yashinon 3,5/80 taking lens. I have not been aware of Yashica TLR’s which combine Yashikor and Yashinon lenses.
I sincerely love mine, I took it around Italy last year and practically all of what would consider a “good shot” was made on it. In fact it’s even in my bag to take out today with me in the snow that’s fallen over my hometown.
The first TLR i used on the 60´s.
Nice review! I keep looking at these and wondering if they’re worth purchasing. The images that accom… https://t.co/umpUdv1TTs
One of my all-time favorites
Hi Ed, nice article, I’ve just acquired a Yashica D for £60 on eBay to sit (and use) along side my Bronica S2a( seems we have 2 things in common). As well as actually using medium format cameras I love the look of them. I haven’t as yet put a film in the D as the focusing is out of whack – it doesn’t focus properly at infinity which is a pain. I’ll need to get it fixed. You photos are very atmospheric and sort of calming. By the way I’ve also a Praktisix 11 ( which is an earlier version of a Pentacon Six ) and built like a large 35mm SLR so if you get a chance to try one it will be fun.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.