Review – Yashica-A TLR Camera

Yashica-A Camera

Before using this camera I had never used a TLR camera. I do have one of those that are plastic and your put together yourself, but I am lazy and I have not gotten around to building it yet. :/ So there was a bit of a learning curve trying to use this Yashica. I was constantly turning the wrong knob on the side and advancing the film instead of focusing, so my first roll was not used to it’s full potential. I also found the viewfinder pretty dim at times and struggled to see if I was in focus. I was pleasantly surprised when my film scans came back that the camera does take sharp and bright photos.

Yashica-A TLR Camera

The Yashica-A and was first introduced in 1956 according to some ads that have been found in magazines and was produced till about 1968. It originally retailed for about $29.99 and is considered the budget camera compared to the other “Yashica” named cameras. This whole line of cameras were made as cheaper copycat versions of the much more expensive Rolleiflex TLR cameras. The Yashica-A takes 120 film and can produce 12 images that are 6 x 6 cm squares. The camera is purely mechanical so there is no need for a battery. As a side note it is pretty heavy so it would not be ideal for light packing trips. It was produced mainly in black metal with black leatherette, but there are some versions with a grey colored leatherette. Yashica-A Camera

Features

The Yashica-A is completely manual so everything has to be set just right before you start taking pictures. It features twin Yashimar 80mm f/3.5 lenses and has a Copal rim-set shutter. The outer ring on shutter lens housing can be adjusted in line to a silver arrow to the shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/300, plus a bulb setting.  An inner ring has the aperture settings of 3.5, 4, 5.6, 8, 11, 16 and 22 can can be selected with a moving lever with a green dot on it. You can keep track of the ASA on the inside of the top side knob that is also the film winder. The bigger side knob is for your lens focusing.
To start taking photos you need to frame your photo looking through the top focusing hood on the top of the camera. It should have the option to flip up a small magnifying glass to help you see a little better, but some cameras may have lost it. You then make all your adjustments depending on your estimates or with the aid of a light meter, cause this camera does not come with one. To start taking a photo you must first pull down the silver shutter cocking lever with a green dot on the side of the shutter housing. You can then press the shutter release button to take the actual photo which is the lowest silver button on the face of the camera.

The camera was manufactured with a  PC socket and the leaf shutter will X-sync at any speed. I have not yet tested this camera with a flash, so I really can not comment on how well it works.

Film

The Yashica-A uses 120 medium format film.  This format of film is not as common as 35mm so your best bet is trying to purchase it online or in specialty camera shops. I used film from Lomography for testing this camera, specifically the Color Negative 400 Speed film that you can find on Amazon.com.  You can look for more types of  film directly from the Lomography website

Film Installation

The Yashica-A can be opened by turning the tripod socket on the bottom of the camera in the direction marked 0 with a red arrow. This causes the back to be able to swing open. You should find a spool in the what I am going to call the top film chamber. You can take it out by pulling on a knob that is on a spring that usually locks it in place. Now place the spool into the lower film chamber by again pulling out the spring loaded knob and then securing it into place. Your new film can then go on the top film chamber. Draw out the film ledger across the side and into one of the slots of the other spool that you placed in the lower film chamber. Make sure it’s even because when you start to wind the the film up it will start to bunch up on the side it’s not. Wind the film three or four times and make sure it’s securely in place.

Then you can shut the camera door and turn the tripod socket back in the direction of the marked C until it stops. Continue to wind the film until you can see the number one through the red little film counter window in the back of the camera. Once you take a photo wind the knob until the next number appears in the window, otherwise you will have a double exposure.

Once you are done with the roll you will know because you can no longer see anymore numbers in your window when you are turning the winding knob. Turn it until you can kinda sort of feel that there is not as much pressure anymore and that you can’t really see anymore film through the window. You can then pop out your film and tape it up tight as not to let the light in and store it in a dark place until you process it. Yashica-A Back

Picture Taking

So I only have one roll developed so far from this camera, but I have a black and white roll that I still need to pick up and see what it looks like, so be on the look out of that. On this outing I took the camera to the Oakland Zoo. It was a bright sunny day so I was able to see mostly what I was doing. Although when I went from the sun to the shade and tried looking in the viewfinder it seemed very dim. It was hard to see if the picture was in focus even with the magnifying glass. 

In the sun I was able to see through the viewfinder much more clearly and it made taking the photos much easier.

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I then switched to taking some pictures indoors, and I have to say that even without a tripod the picture came out clear and very sharp.

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This camera surprised me in that in gave me really sharp and clear photos even in low light. The look and feel of the camera is also pretty great in that you can see it is a well made camera despite being a lower end sort of budget camera. What was not keen on was how dim the viewfinder was and the difficulty in trying to focus images. The camera is also on the heavy side so it’s not easy to transport everywhere.  I also was not use to all the knobs which I think is more of a user error and I just have to get used to it.

If you really like this camera and it’s design you can sometimes find in my Etsy Shop. If it’s not in stock you can always drop me a note and I can source it for you for no extra cost and make a reserved listing just for you. You can also risk buying from an auction site like Ebay. You can use this LINK to see what they have.

Most times the manual for this camera is no longer with the camera itself, but you can find a copy of it at this Here.

Specifications:

  • Type:     120 lens-shutter camera
  • Manufacturer:     Yashica
  • Year of release:     1956
  • Films:     120
  • Film format:      6 x 6 cm
  • Lens:    Yashimar or Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 lenses
  • Shutter:    1/25, 1/50, 1/100, and 1/300 speeds
  • Viewfinder:    TLR waist level hood finder, Fresnel screen with grid lines, w/ flip up magnifying loop and flip down center for the sports finder
  • Focus:     Fresnel ground glass screen, via a big knob on the right side of the camera
  • Flash:    PC socket and the leaf shutter will X-sync at any speed
  • Film advance:     Side winding knob. No prevention against double advance and double exposure.
  • Light Meter:     None
  • Dimensions (W x H x D):      x  x mm
  • Weight:

I hope that you have enjoyed this review. Please let me know if you have any particular cameras that you would like to see reviewed.

5 Comments

  1. Shaun Nelson September 21, 2016

    Nice review. You were much more detailed than I was in my review. Like you, the A was my first TLR. After using the Mat 124-G, I haven’t gone back to the A.

    Reply
    • Adriana September 21, 2016

      Haha I hope to one day have a more advanced version. Getting the hang of this one first 😉

      Reply
  2. lyle61 September 21, 2016

    Wish I could blog about my old Canon Power ShotAS 580…but am not proficient enough…I only used the self timer once.lol

    Reply
  3. Jim Grey September 21, 2016

    What a nice review of this camera! I didn’t know the Yashica-A was such a basic TLR. I own a Yashica-D and it’s much better optioned.

    Reply
    • Adriana September 21, 2016

      Yeah I hear that it is much better, but as a beginner using these types of cameras I think this was what I needed lol.

      Reply

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