I have a personal interest in the Yashica-Mat. Having set off in 1972 to West Bromwich Photographic College with only a Zenith B and realising something better was required, I part-exed the Zenith at a camera shop in Wilmslow for a used Yashica-Mat. They were still in production in 1972. I think the shop was called Laughtons and I believe I was assisted in the purchase by my family. This camera did sterling work at college, then later when working at a hospital, for doctors and nurses weddings.
My current Yashica-Mat was made in May 1965 and was the 803’rd made that month. It’s a lovely clean example with crystal clear lens, smooth focus wind and fully working shutter. It came with a hard leather case and a lens hood. The focusing screen was non standard, a replacement bright screen was found from a chap in Hong Kong, the new screen makes quite a difference. The rear door light seals on the Yashica-Mat are black string and don’t deteriorate unlike the later models using foam seals.
The MAT part of the name is short for automatic, as in when winding on the film, the shutter is automatically cocked. I was able to download an instruction book, I always try and find one for all my cameras, they can tell you of any quirks when using the camera.
The Yashica-Mat has two quirks:
1.When using the self timer the flash sync must be on X (otherwise the shutter can jamb)
2.Never wind on the camera with an empty take-up spool (otherwise the wind-on mechanism can jamb).
There is an excellent website dedicated to Yashica TLR cameras run by Paul Sokk.
I’ve put two rolls of film through in the last few months, Ilford Delta 400 and Lomography Colour Negative 400. The Delta 400 performed excellently as expected, the Lomo CN400 has a pale magenta stripe down the left side of all images. Of course this is the nature of Lomo film, you don’t know what you are going to get, the other two rolls in the box had the same effect, overall I found the colour to be pretty good. The Yashinon f3.5 80mm four element lens is very capable especially when used in the f8-16 range.
It was second nature using the camera after all these years. Getting used to the viewfinder took a little longer for higher shots, when holding the camera above your head or sideways (you can always use the sports finder once focused). A humble 55 year old Yashica-Mat is a nice way into Twins Lens Reflex photography.
Thank you for reading – Phil
You can find more of my content on 35mmc here