Yashica TLR VS Rollei TLR
perhaps this is the comparison between the most famous (or expensive) TLR and the most economical TLR. Or a comparison between TLRs made in Germany and Japan.
BTW, both are my fav. like them much better than the other few brands.
the below article is a shared opinion by “The Frugal Photographer”
The first post-war Japanese TLRs in general were not up to Rollei standards in any way. Some were junk. The Yashima company’s TLR factory produced the Pigeonflex/Yashimaflex/Yashicaflex line, decent but unexceptional goods, from about 1951 until the company transformed itself in 1955 by purchasing the Nicca company, at which time it renamed itself Yashica. They subsequently produced some very high quality TLR cameras, from 1957 until about 1984.
Between about 1957 and the early 1980’s, I would cheerfully rate the Yashica TLRs as better than the Rollei products with which they were meant to compete — the Rolleicords, and the Tessar and Xenar equipped f3.5 Rolleiflexes. The better, later, much more expensive Rolleiflexes are on a different plane. I don’t count the Yashica A, which was an entry-level, basic camera that didn’t pretend to compete with Rollei products.
The Yashica film wind mechanisms are not always as silky-smooth, but often they are, and even the worst are plenty smooth enough. They are robust enough for me, although the Rollei film wind gearing is stronger. The Yashica viewfinder screens incorporate fresnels and are substantially brighter and easier to use, and their lenses are of equal quality for all practical purposes (but not identical — Xenars have more “snap” to my eyes and Yashinons seem more subtle. Not everyone would agree).
The shutters are functionally equivalent, although I consider the Yashica’s Copal better designed than the Rollei’s Compur. The Copal has three speed range controllers, the Compur two, which has the practical consequence that the Copal will switch to 1/500 without effort, and you can switch to 1/500 when the shutter is cocked. Switching a Compur to 1/500 is remarkably difficult, and if you do so while the shutter is cocked you can ruin it. The Copal should stay more accurate longer — in theory.
The brighter viewscreen makes the Yashicas easier for me to handle, and earns them the “better than” rating. I would feel differently if it was 1960 and I was a busy pro who might easily wear out the Yashica film wind, or needed the Rolleiflex’s fast film reloading. But this is the 21st century, and neither I nor anyone reading this is likely to put film through a TLR by the mile, and none of us are using a TLR to shoot weddings. I’m nearsighted, and for me, moving from the comparable Rollei products to a Yashica-Mat at more or less the same price is definitely an upgrade.
The 124-G is usually overpriced and a Rolleicord or older Rolleiflex in good condition may be a better financial deal, e.g. $125 for a Rolleicord or decent Rollei Automat vs $200+ for a 124-G. In that case, don’t even think about the Yashica. Squint and bear it. Use the money you save to buy film.
Late 124-G’s (post-1980 approximately) sometimes had rough film winding mechanisms that fail prematurely. I have been told of late 124-G’s with no-name “Yashica” lenses instead of the high-quality Yashinon. However I have never seen one of these, and earlier specimens do not have these failings. The rough film-wind problems with the last of the 124-Gs are not widely acknowledged. I have been unable to pinpoint the region in the serial number range which marks the onset of problem cameras. In fact, I have no idea what the Yashica TLR serial number range is.
Non-124-G Yashicas are undervalued. The best of them is undoubtedly the plain-vanilla Yashica-Mat, a Rolleiflex clone without the film-thickness sensor, unmetered and usually available in excellent condition for much less money than a comparable Rollei TLR. It was manufactured continuously from 1957 to 1968 with the last models having f2.8 viewing lenses. Do not confuse the tough, attractive Yashica-Mat with the very early, flimsier Yashica-Flex.
There are selenium-celled versions of the Yashica-Mat, the Mat LM with LV readouts, and the Mat EM with direct f-stop/shutter speed readouts. Their selenium cells may work fine, but are now too old to be guaranteed reliable, and these metered models are worth owning, but not worth spending extra money for.
The Yashica-Mat 124 (just plain 124, non-G), an attractive, high-quality, CdS-metering machine, is equally as good. It will meter accurately if operated with a hearing-aid battery of the correct size. It was “improved” to make the 124-G, but the improvements are essentially trivial. The meter contacts of the G are gold plated. The G film chamber has improved anti-flare baffles. Nice, but not necessary.
If what you have is a ‘Mat, LM, EM, C, D, 635, 12, 24, 124, or 124-G, then use it. Don’t worry about trading “up” to a Rolleicord or f3.5 Tessar or Xenar Rolleiflex. You have nothing practical to gain, and the spiritual frisson some enthusiasts get from fondling Rollei gear doesn’t impress me. Knob wind film advance is just fine, not as sexy or as fast as lever wind and it doesn’t automatically cock the shutter, but it’s perfectly useful (and it lets you double-expose, if you’re into that).
If you have a YashicaFlex, or a Yashica A or E, then you should definitely trade up. You can do a lot better. The A is the one with that little red film number window on the back; the wretched E is a clone of the equally wretched Rolleimagic. Sell it on eBay, skip lunch for a week, and you’ll have enough to buy a Yashica D, Yashica-Mat, or Rolleicord.
If you have a Yashica B, Yashica Rookie, Pigeonflex, or a Yashimaflex, keep it — they’re decent if unexceptional performers — or sell it to a collector. They’re quite rare.
There is danger in generalizing about a line of cameras from handling one or two specimens. Here are my credentials:
My sample size in the years since about 1965 is probably on the order of a dozen Rollei and about 35 Yashica TLR cameras, of which I still own two Rolleis and 22 Yashicas (I’m collecting variations). I once regularly used a Rolleiflex Automat with Xenar (and an oddly attractive serial number, 107,0001), Rolleicord Va and Vb with Xenar, and various Yashica cameras with Yashikor and Yashinon lenses. I own but don’t use Yashica models A, B, and C, happily use my D, never shoot the screwball E, sometimes use the 635, 12, 24, 124, and 124-G, but prefer my late Yashica-Mat with f2.8 viewing lens.
I have owned, and tried to use, bad examples of Rollei products as well as bad examples of Yashica products. In my experience, neither marque has any monopoly on reliability except for the Rollei’s stronger film wind mechanism.
It needs to be said that the Minolta Autocord and Ricoh Diacord cameras are also fully the equal of the Rolleicord and f3.5 Xenar/Tessar Rolleiflexes, if not better, though they are less plentiful and not always less expensive. Abandoning one for a comparable Rollei would not be a step up. My sample size with these is three Autocords and two Diacords. They focus using lever mechanisms instead of knobs, which I could easily learn to prefer. The Diacord’s side-mounted focus levers in particular make it a lovely, wonderful to handle camera that makes the Rolleis and Yashicas seem awkward.
Overview of Yashica TLR Models
Source: Yashica Twin Lens Reflex Guide – Focal Press January 1964
The Yashica rollfilm reflex cameras are twin-lens mirror reflex cameras made in two sizes, one taking 12 exposures of a size 21⁄4 x 21⁄4 in. (6 x 6 cm.) on standard 120 roll film, the other taking 12 exposures 1 5/8 X 1 5/8 in. (4 x 4 cm.) on 127 roll film.
Two lenses matched for focal length are mounted one above the other on a common panel. The upper lens projects an image of the subject via a mirror on to a ground glass screen in the top of the camera, while the lower one projects a similar image on to the film: the ground glass image therefore shows at all times the full-size picture as it will appear on the negative, upright but reversed left to right. To compensate for any parallax between the viewing and taking lens, the ground glass is suitably masked. The ground glass on top of the camera is protected in the closed position by the folded- down finder hood. When opened, this forms a light-excluding hood 21⁄2 in. high; it carries a magnifier for critical focusing and has a built-in framefinder for eye-level direct vision.
The Yashica reflex cameras are focused by a large focusing knob on the side of the camera. This is geared to the front panel and smoothly and simultaneously controls both lenses. A depth of field indicator is incorporated.
A film speed indicator is built into the centre of the focusing knob except model D and 635, where it is in the film transport knob.
A tripod bush is located in the centre of the camera base. The back of the camera hinges open for insertion of the film. It carries a substantial spring-loaded pressure plate to locate the film precisely in its focal plane. The shutter is released by a body release knob on the front of the camera.
The body is diecast and leather covered. The dimensions of the 21⁄4 x 21⁄4 models are 5 5/8 X 4 1/8 x 3 3⁄4 in., weight from 32 oz. to 40 oz. The 4 x 4 models measure 41⁄2 31⁄4 x 31⁄4 in. and weigh from 24 oz. to 29 oz.
The various Yashica rollfilm reflex models are distinguished from each other by the type of lens built-in, the number of shutter speeds, various automatic features and built-in exposure meter.
Some discontinued models of the Yashica reflex, such as models B, C and 44 which were on the market only for a short time, are so similar to the current ones that they have not been dealt with in the guide separately. There are also several transition variations of the Yashica reflex models listed below. These variations are of a minor nature and the consequent change in manipulation self-evident.
Yashica Reflex Models
The 6*6 models are:
- Yashica A.
As general description above, fitted with Yashikor, earlier models with Yashimar f 3.5 80 mm. three-element, in four-speed Copal shutter, X flash synchronized, film transport by knob, non-automatic, accessory shoe fitted.
- Yashica B.
Similar to A with aperture and shutter speed set by levers on either side of the shutter rim.
- Yashica C.
Adds to model A semi-automatic film transport, speed range from 1 to 1/300 sec., field lens in focusing screen, full XM flash synchronization, Yashikor f3.5 80 mm. lens with bayonet mount for filters, built-in delayed action.
- Yashica D.
Similar to model C with increased speed range 1 to 1/500 sec., aperture and speed setting in cut-out window above finder lens controlled by thumb wheels.
- Yashica 635.
As model D with facilities for using 35 mm. miniature film by incorporating additionial transport knob, film counter and rewind control. Supplied with conversion kit.
- Yashica Mat reflex.
As general description above, fitted with Yashinon f3.5 80 mm. and finder lens f3.2, shutter 1 to 1/500 sec., built- in delayed action. fully XM synchronized. Aperture and speed setting in cut-out window above finder lens, controlled by thumb wheels with click stops. Film transport fully automatic by lever wind. Fresnel lens in reflex screen.
- Yashica Mat-LM.
As Yashica-Mat, but has built-in photo-electric exposure meter, uncoupled, scale built into focusing knob
- The 4 x 4 models are:
- Yashica 44.
As general description above with Yashikor f3.5 60 mm. lens in bayonet mount, crank handle for film transport. Copal shutter speeds 1 to 1/500 sec., built-in self-timer, fully XM synchronized, focusing screen with field lens.
- Yashica 44A.
As model 44 but lens with push-on mount, transport by wheel, non-automatic, shutter speeds1/25 to 1/300 sec., X synchronized, no delayed action release.
- Yashica 44LM.
As model 44 but with Yashinon f3.5 60 mm. lens, with built-in photo-electric exposure meter, uncoupled, scale built into film transport knob, semiautomatic film transport.
- Yashica 44.
Notable Rollei TLR Models
This first Rolleiflex was introduced in 1929 after three years of development, and was the first medium format roll-film camera, which was used with unpopular 117 (B1) film. It was a Twin-Lens Reflex camera.
- The “Old Standard” was originally known as simply the “Standard” until the introduction of the New Standard in 1939.
- This model introduced a hinged back and a frame counter. While not automatic, like in the Rolleiflex Automat, the photographer could reset the counter with a small button after reaching the first frame
- Robert Capa used an Old Standard to document World War 2.
- Introduced an automatic film counter; this counter senses the thickness of the film backing to accurately begin counting frames, obviating the need for the ruby window that forced the photographer to read the frame number off the back of the film itself.
- This model won the Grand Prix award at the Paris World’s Fair in 1937.
- The first Rolleiflex to offer a Schneider Kreuznach Xenar taking lens as an option, in addition to the Carl Zeiss Tessar.
Incorporated the first 8cm f2.8 taking lens (either an 80 mm Carl Zeiss Tessar or Opton Tessar) into the Rolleiflex line. It also added an X flash synch contact.
This camera used a 135 mm/f4.0 Carl Zeiss Sonnar taking lens. The introduction to a 1990 sale catalogue by Sotheby’s auction house in London estimated that approximately 1200 cameras existed at that date.
The new Tele Rolleiflex uses 135mm/f4 Schneider Tele-Xenar taking lens
This camera had a 55 mm/f4.0 Carl Zeiss Distagon taking lens. The introduction to a 1990 sale catalogue by Sotheby’s auction house in London estimated that fewer than 700 such cameras existed at that date. Only 3600 models have been originally produced.
The new Wide Rolleiflex uses a 50mm/f4 Schneider Super-Angulon taking lens.