Yashica Mat 124 – Review by Karen Nakamura
Overview and Personal Comments
The Yashicamat 124 is a twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera that is basically a copy of the Rolleiflex. It uses 120 size film (medium format) to shoot 6 x 6 square format photos (same as a Hasselblad). Using the text or images on this website without permission on an ebay auction or any other site is a violation of federal law.
I purchased this camera a couple of years ago to see if medium format was my thing. It was, the Yashica had excellent resolution and the tonality of medium format positives just blew me away.
Unfortunately, I was so entranced by the Yashicamat, I later on bought a Mamiya RB67 system and never used the Yashicamat after that. The RB67 is for the studio, while I have a Koni-Omega Rapid M for outdoor medium format photography. It’s just a bit difficult to frame when things are reversed in the TLR finder. I like the look of the 124 and the little Yashica 44LM, but I doubt I’ll ever use them.
The Yashicamat 124G is the successor to the 124. Everyone seems to want the 124G. The only change the 124G has was to add Gold meter contacts. That’s it. Which is odd since I’ve seen 124Gs that went for $400, but 124s are relatively cheap. They use the EXACT SAME OPTICS! Hmm.. People are pretty stupid. You don’t buy Yashicamats for the lightmeter, heck most of them are non-linear anymore. They use the EXACT SAME OPTICS!*
* OK, so the 124G had a nicer finish on the outside, BUT it also used wimpier (i.e., cheaper) gears. The 124 has sturdier internal mechanisms.
The Yashicamat 124 takes simply astoundingly sharp pictures. Here are some samples shot on Fuji Velvia (an E-6 slide film) and scanned with the Epson Perfection 2400, a standard flatbed scanner with a transparency adaptor that costs around $300. The resulting files are 5400 x 5400 pixels large, or 90 megabytes in size at 24 bit depth (at the scanner’s full 48 bit depth, the files are 180 megabytes large). That’s the equivalent of a 30 megapixel digital camera! You can print the scans at 240 dpi at a whopping 22″ x 22″ without interpolating. Try that on your $2000 digital camera!
A reduced version of each photo is shown along with a 8x zoom up. To put the zoomed in version in perspective, to view the zoomed version at 100%, the original file would have to be printed at almost 100″ x 100″ or an 8′ x 8′ mural. The actual slide shot is even sharper than the scan as the Epson 2450 is really a 1200 dpi scanner, not a 2400 dpi one.The slides themselves are extremely crisp. You can count the number of leaves on the trees in the autumnal photo (sample #2).
If you want the original sample files (about 3 megabytes compressed at JPEG 8; about 20 megabytes compressed at JPEG 12), please let me know and I will arrange to make them available.
The slight unsharpness here is caused by the scanner. With a loupe, you can make out the features of this person and easily identify him. Remember that this is the detail from an image blown up to about 8′ x 8′!
Place of Manufacture
Date of Manufacture
|1968 ~ 1971|
|Twin lens reflex|
|Taking lens: 80mm f/3.5 Yashinon (multicoated)
Viewing lens: 80mm f/3.5 Yashinon (multicoated)
-Yashinons are 4 element Tessar types
1 sec – 1/500 sec.
|CdS cell mounted on camera body (above the lens ATL) – uncoupled match needle type
Cold-shoe mount on left side
PC-cable attachment on front side
Film type / speeds
|Type 120/220 film (medium format)
|Use of this chart, text, or any photographs in an eBay auction without permission will result in an immediate IP violation claim with eBay VeRO. Violators may have their eBay account cancelled.|
The Yashica Corporation began making cameras in 1957, releasing its first model in 1958 (the Yashica 35). They produced a very well regarded series of twin-lens-reflex (TLR) medium format cameras under the Yashica-Mat brand and 35mm rangefinders under the Yashica Electro name. Yashica became a subsidiary of the Kyocera Corporation in October of 1983. For the next two decades, Kyocera continued to produce film cameras under the Contax marquee, including a very nice 35mm Contax SLR series (which used Zeiss lenses), a medium format system, and the Contax G1/G2 rangefinders (also with Zeiss glass).The Yashica name was only used for a small series of dental cameras and point and shoots. In March of 2005, Kyocera announced that it would cease production and sales of film and digital cameras under the Contax marquee. Thus ends 30 years of a wonderful camera line. The Contax name will most probably revert back to the Zeiss foundation, thus who knows what will happen in the future. Right now, the name “Yashica” appears to have been bought by a Chinese company for their inexpensive digital cameras.
What is mercury px625?
The PX625 (also referred to by other names such as PX13) is a small button-shaped 1.35volt mercury battery which great number of camera models were designed to use.
Before the manufacture of mercury batteries was banned, many cameras were designed to use them. Because mercury batteries produced a constant and reliable voltage, many cameras were built without any voltage regulation in the metering circuitry. Unless preventative measures are taken, use of other kinds of batteries gives erratic exposures and meter readings.
Brands and Cameras designed to use px625 battery
|Agfa||Optima 500 Sensor, Selectronic, Selectronic S, Agfamatic 300/4000/4008/5008/6008, Optima 535/1035/5000/5008/6000/6008|
|Bell & Howell||FD35, Autoload 340/341, Auto Reflex Dial 35|
|Canon||FT, FTb, FTbn, FT-QL, TX, TLb, EF, F1 (some), Ex, EX EE Auto, A35F, Demi 17, Demi EE 17, Canonet QL17/QL19/19E/25/19E, Canonet New QL17/New QL17L/New QL19/New 28/G-III 17/G-III 19|
|Chinon||SLR, 1000EL pocket, CS, CXII|
|Dacora||Rapid D101, D202, D404|
|Edixa||LTL, 35MM, Prismat, Amica Auto,TL 1000|
|Exakta||TL1000, RTL1000, Examat & Travemat meter finders|
|Fuji/Fujica||35FS, 35GP, V2|
|GAF Corporation||L-14, L-17, L-CM, L-CS, Anscomatic 726, Autoset Cds|
|GAF Bernard||Auto 35, Model 503, Viceroy 5000|
|Hanimex||35EE, 35SL, 120, 620, Compact A|
|Hasselblad||Meter Prism Finder CdS|
|Kalimar||K650, K431 Cds meter, K433 zone meter, Zanit 2000CTL|
|Keystone||K609H, K610H, K616D, K164H, K615H, K1010 Auto|
|Kiev||60 TTL (2 each)|
|Kodak AG||Retina IIF|
|Konica||AutoReflex T4/TC/Autorex, Auto S/S1.6/S2/S261 meter, EE-Matic, EE-Matic Deluxe F/FM, c35/c35 Flashmatic|
|Kowa||SE, SER, SET, SETR, SETR2, 6, 6 MM, Super 66|
|Leica||CL, M5, Leicaflex SL/SL2/SL-MOT/SL2-MOT|
|Minolta||SRT 100/101/200/201/202, SR 1/7/7V/100/102/200/201/202, AL-F, AL-E, Autopack 700, Himatic 7/7s/9/11|
|Miranda||Sensorex, Automex II/III, F, FM|
|Nikon||F, FTn, FT, T, Tn, Nikkormat FT/FTn/FT2|
|Olympus||35 series: 35DC/35LC/35RC/35RD/35SC/35SP/35SPN/35UC, EED, Pen FT, FTL, M-1, OM-1, OM-1MD, OM-1n|
|Petri||FT, FTIII, F1X, Racer, Petriflex 7|
|Praktica||TL, TL1000, Super TL/TL2/TL3, LTL, LTL3, MTL3, MTL5, Praktica 66 meter, Prakticamat|
|Ricoh||Simplex, Simplex II, SLX 500, TLS 400/EE|
|Rollei||35, 35S, 35T, 35 Classic, A26, 126, XF35, Rolleiflex SL35, SL35M, SL26|
|Topcon||RE Super, Super DM, 135EE|
|Vivitar||35EE, 35EF, 35ES|
|Yashica||MAT 124, MAT 124G, Y12, Y24, Half 14, Lynx 14/14E/5000, Ministar 700D, Penta J3/J4/J5/J7|
|Zeiss Ikon||Contaflex 126/SLF, Contarex Super/Super BC, Icarex 35S/35CS, SL706|
|Zenit||Zenit TTL, Zenit 16, Zenit 18, Zenit 19, Zenit , Zenit Avtomat, Zenit AM, Zenit APK|
Approaches to replace mercury px625 battery
a. CRIS MR-9 adapter.
Good: Uses Silver Oxide batteries SR-44. More available than other adapters.
Potential Bad: Expensive
b. PaulBG’s Adapter
Good: Cheaper. Uses Zinc Air batteries aka Hearing Aid battery.
Potential Bad: The battery will die every 3 months regardless of usage. It is cheap but you have to check on the battery.
c. DIY from old PX645 battery
Remove the centre piece of the PX645 battery leaving only the ring. Place a Zinc air battery in the centre and uses aluminum foil between the battery and ring.
4. these easiest way: wein cell px625
can easily get from amazon, antiquecamera.com, ebay and other online places. A genuine piece of wein cell usually costs around 6-7 US Dollars.
Yashica Mat 124 Cleaning (4 of 4): Battery Replacement
This is the final post in a series of four related to cleaning my used Yashica Mat 124. The first post in the series describes the task in more detail and includes links to all of the other posts.
A common complaint with used Yashica Mat 124 / 124G cameras is that that meter is inoperative. On my camera, the eBay auction stated that the meter no longer worked, but I suspect the seller never even bothered to try a new battery in it. So, it is often worth asking if they’ve tried the meter with a good battery before you determine that it no longer works.
The problem is that the 124 and 124G are designed to run off a mercury 625 cell (generating a nominal 1.4 volts) that has been banned due to mercury content. As a result, it is very hard to find 625 batteries for these cameras, and even if you can find one, can you really deal with the guilt of putting poison into the environment? The replacement 625, if you can even find one, is typically alkaline with a nominal (and unstable) voltage of 1.5 volts, which causes the 124 metering to read incorrectly (too high, I believe, causing under-exposed photos).
The best replacement (chemically) is a zinc-air battery, but zinc-air batteries are not commonly sold in the 625 size. A readily available alternative is the zinc air 675 battery, that produces the needed 1.4 Volts stably across its life cycle but does not fit in the Yashicamat 124(g) straight out of the box. The image below depicts this physical difference:
As you can see, the 625 has a much larger diameter and slightly more height. There are a variety of strategies to get the 675 zinc-air batteries into older cameras – this great page at KYPhoto describes many of the ways. Probably the easiest are Wein cells — newer zinc-air batteries with the right size specification. But, Wein cells tend to be harder to find and more expensive than similar batteries because they are a specialty commodity.
The approach I’ve taken is to adapt a 675 battery to fit the space of a 625 battery — Rick Oleson has a good page on this which is similar to my approach. The basic idea is to increase the diameter of the battery (by placing a spacer in the battery holder) and increase the height slightly since the 625 is usually held by the lip around the outside (not the positive terminal face) but the 675 does not have the lip. In the image above, you can see the battery holder on the 124 (which includes a metal screw-in top). But, where Rick Oleson uses wire, I use one of these and some aluminum foil:
Your local hardware store has a wide variety of faucet O-rings that work great for the spacer with the bonus of well-calibrated size and non-conductivity. I used a 7/16″ I.D. and 5/8″ O.D. ring and it cost me less than $1 for two of them.
Battery-wise, I spent $6 at my local Fry’s Electronics for a pack of 6 Energizer 675 zinc-air batteries:
The image that started this post shows the materials used. Just insert the o-ring into the hole in the camera (it will fit snugly), place the battery on top of the foil on the cap, and screw the cap back in. I found it best to hold the cap up with the camera battery holder upside down keep stuff from falling apart. The battery goes in snugly and securely and automatically centers itself.
And, the end result is a working match-needle meter:
Note the red needle, driven by the battery and sensor, that you need to line up with the yellowish-green ‘hook’. Easy, costs less than a buck for the parts and a buck a battery, and works pretty well!
Update: Well, I spoke a little too soon on things working well. My meter has been malfunctioning and reading low. Sometimes, when I open the hood up it does not turn on, and sometimes even when it does work it twitches all over the place. I need to look into it more, but it is likely either the battery contact (which is somewhat corroded — I originally sandpapered it, but I don’t think it took) or, more likely, the switch in the hood is flaky. I’ll open it up in the near future and see what I can do. The camera is so much easier to use when the meter is operable, even if the meter is a little imprecise!
Update #2: (10/25/09) The foil ended up being less than reliable, since it tends to compress over time and it may cover the air holes of the battery (causing inconsistent metering). Instead, I found a twisted spiral of copper wire (22 AWG) does a good job of spacing the battery without restricting airflow: