A Yashicamat - Or Is It?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by John Seaman, Jun 6, 2021.

  1. One of my first classic cameras, which I still have, was a very early Yashicamat, with a 75mm Lumaxar lens:

    LINK --- --- Yashicamat at the Carnival

    It now has a companion as of yesterday, another early Yashicamat (?) this time with a slightly later 80mm Lumaxar - these Lumaxars were soon replaced by the Yashinon.

    Now, it has a Yashicaflex nameplate - the Yashicaflex being a roughly contemporary knob wind TLR. Surely the original nameplate was damaged and replaced? Except that I took off the hood for cleaning, and there was nothing obvious at all to suggest that it was not the original nameplate, the two fixing screws did not seem to have been disturbed.

    So - what is it?
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2021
  2. Great cameras, those Yashica twin lens reflexes. In their day these cameras were a good value. One ad in a 1957 Christmas ad in Popular Photography suggested that one could buy two for the same price as higher priced TLR. I would imagine they were comparing it to the Rolleiflex. The ad copy went on to buy one as a gift and one to keep for yourself.
    I really should use my Yashica D more often.
    ] likes this.
  3. Yes they are great cameras, both Yashicamats dating from 1957 work perfectly - its said that the early ones are more reliable because the tooling wore out during the long production run. They have nice bright Fresnel screens, although the red grid markings might not suit everyone. The mirror in the "new" camera was as clean as a whistle..

    The Lumaxar lens is very sharp. Here's a picture from the earlier camera, I haven't used the new one yet Family.jpg :
    John Farrell, kklow, m42dave and 2 others like this.
  4. Thanks JDM. Actually I found this site by Paul Sokk, which is a pretty comprehensive and definitive resource for the Yashica TLR empire:

    LINK --- --- 66 Models Page 5

    There's no mention of a crank wind Yashicaflex, though. Thinking about it, if there were any crossovers between Yashicamat and Yashicaflex, it would most likely have been on the very first type with the 75mm lens, not the later 80mm like this one..

    Surely of all the camera makers, Yashica had the most bewildering range of models with often relatively minor variations between types. Not only loads of TLR's, but 35mm SLR's and many, many 35mm rangefinders.

    The Yashinon lens is not a rebadged Lumaxar, the method of assembly is different. With the 80mm Yashinon, like many others the whole front group unscrews to enable cleaning and access to the shutter blades etc. With both 75mm and 80mm Lumaxars, there is just a retaining ring which when unscrewed, releases the front element only. I don't know how to dismantle it further - perhaps fortunately. The origins of the Lumaxar do seem to be obscure.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2021
    John Farrell likes this.
  5. I always thought the Mat was with built-in light meter, and non-Mat without.

    Then again, I never figured out the Nikon vs. Nikkormat distinction.

    Otherwise, my first real (glass lens) camera was a Yashica (non-Mat) TLR that my dad had,
    which I think took some of my baby pictures before I was one. Then he got the Canon VI,
    and most of the rest of the pictures (age 1 to 10) were on that.

    But also, I started darkroom photography with the Yashica, 120 film, and a contact printer.
    After a year or two, I went to 35mm, though. As far as I know, my dad still has the Yashica,
    though so far I don't know where it is, and I think he doesn't, either. The Canon VI was
    my favorite to borrow after he got a Pellix, including 7th and 8th grade yearbook photography.

    But yes, I do still remember the Yashica.
  6. Great link, John. It fills in a lot of information that I did not know about Yashica TLRs.
  7. The link(s) given by John is really useful. I've downloaded a fair amount of it for my personal archive.

  8. No, the Yashicamat was a lever wind camera like the Rolleiflex, the Yashica and Yashicaflex were knob wind, like the Rolleicord. Both series had later models with built in meters, like the Yashicamat LM and 124G. Yashicamats invariably had 4 element Tessar type lenses (Lumaxar and Yashinon), the Yashicas and Yashicaflexes nearly all had triplet Yashikor lenses. There are exceptions, for example the Yashica 12 and 24 are actually Yashicamats, the latter designed for 24 exposures on 220 film.
    ] likes this.
  9. It looks exactly the same as my Yashica-Mat John. Apart from the name-plate, obviously. My Mat is also fitted with the 80mm f/3.5 Lumaxar. It's a good lens.

    I think the Yashicaflex was just an earlier name for what was basically the same body as the Mat.

    Maybe Yashica renamed it to avoid confusion with all the other 'Flexes' on the market - Rollei, Micro, Conta, Mamiya, etc. Who knows? And 'Mat' sounds a bit more advanced and high-techy.
    No. The 'Mat' bit just referred to the crank wind that couples to shutter-cocking originally.

    The lightmeter in later models was about as much use as sticking a wet finger in the air and guessing the exposure anyway!

    FWIW. I once owned a Dixons own-brand TLR that was also fitted with a 75mm Lumaxar lens. The made-up name on that camera escapes me at the moment. So whether it was a re-badged Yashica camera, or whether Yashica sourced their Lumaxar lenses from a common 3rd party, I don't know.

    Ah, it was a Prinzflex. Had to Google it.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2021
  10. Correction. A Prinz Auto. Not that it matters much.
  11. I think the Prinz Auto was made by Halma. I've seen one with a Tri-Lausar lens, I had a similar Prinz Flex with a Halmar lens. I think the difference was the Auto had automatic frame advance, the Flex, just a red window.
    Mike Gammill and James Bryant like this.
  12. The Prinx Auto that I had was all black as well, and had more sticky-out shutter levers.
    It was a short-lived experimentation with the TLR design for me. I quickly decided I hated the stupid idea of welding another camera on top of a camera just to act as a backward viewfinder. With almost all the complexity of an SLR, and none of the advantages!
  13. "John Seaman, post: 5904368, member: 541403"]Thanks JDM. Actually I found this site by Paul Sokk, which is a pretty comprehensive and definitive resource for the Yashica TLR empire:

    LINK --- --- 66 Models Page 5

    Thanks for sharing this John . Very well done. I was enlightened to read about the baffling done in later models to cut down on interior reflections . I have always felt the Mat 12 suffered from flare and blamed the Yashinon lens. Regretting not using the light hood I have that would fit it

    I too started with a Yashica D as my first MF and well it wasn't exactly the antique in 1980 when I got it. I acquired the Yashica Mat 124 b/c it had a meter, soon after. Many years later I bought the "C" for parts, but as I procrastinated soo long , I eventually had Mark Hana fix my "D" (long long painful funny story )
    Oh right almost forgot the Mat 124 was also serviced for a wind/not cocking problem during the long period I mentioned before .

    RodeoJoe gave a rather harsh criticism of the TLR and while I used to like them more, my age and failing eyesight has me uncomfortable with the WLF . I also used to like the square format "I got it" but my WA love has me preferring the 6x9 over 6x6.

    Nonetheless you've got to love these beautiful massive chrome photographing machines

    DSC05576.JPG [/QUOTE]
  14. Could it be export versus domestic market, like the Nikomat in Japan and Nikkormat in the rest of the world?
  15. I don't think Yashica went down that road John.

    I suppose TLR's are the Marmite of classic cameras. I like them.
  16. I had the late Yashica-Mat with the Yashinon as my first TLR (other than my childhood Kodak Duoflex IV). It was a very, very good Yashica and it inspired me to try a few other TLR Yashicas and they were not so good. It finally went away when I got my first Rolleiflex but many of its images live on.
  17. I had a Yashica (non-Mat) when I was young, just after an Imperial Delta, which I won from a
    camera store contest that I didn't enter. (I was about 7, my dad didn't explain that one.)

    I remember one roll from the Delta, developing it with my dad, in the darkroom at his work.

    But then with the Yashica, I started home darkroom processing.

    Not so much later, I started on 35mm, but also my first enlarger was 35mm only.

    I now have a TLR that is Chinese, and I am told that the name translates to Peony.
    (It is written in Chinese on the front.)
  18. True.
    I can't stand the taste of Marmite either!;)
    peter_fowler likes this.

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