Geof-Crowl / yashica-12-review
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Monday, Dec. 10th 2012

Review: Yashica 12 Medium Format TLR

I'd call this a review, but it's not. Considering that the camera was originally made circa 1966 (45 years ago), I'm not exactly reviewing a new Macbook Air.

Since acquiring my Nikon FE, I've been enjoying shooting with film again. Previously, there weren't a whole lot of opportunities for me to shoot medium format. In college, I only took 35mm SLR classes.

Fortunately, this camera came along. I had not show with a Twin Lens Reflex camera before. The horizontally flipped image took some getting used to. But before long, I was taking light readings and snapping photos as if I had been doing it for some time.

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About

The Yashica 12 is a 120 medium format camera. It takes 12 photos on a roll of 120 film, producing a 6x6cm or 2.25x2.25in negative. It has a 5x5 grid to aid composition. The square format was absolutely fantastic. Being used to a 35mm and similar digital aspect ratio, this format was a nice experience. It gave me fresh compositions, and forced me to think differently.

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The camera is pretty straightforward. It's entirely mechanical. The fact that it has lasted nearly half a decade is a testament to its durability. My Nikon D70s lasted about five years before it started to have issues relating to its circuitry.

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Glass and Bokeh

While the Yashica-12 isn't quite as iconic as the Rollei TLRs, it's build quality is fantastic and the glass is fairly decent. The 80mm f3.5 Yashinon lens produces sharp images and pleasant bokeh.

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Build Quality

This camera isn't the lightest. But I wouldn't hesitate to take it on a short hike. It's dimensions fit pleasingly in the hands. The leatherette is still intact, and looks like it will last some time.

Overall

This camera is pretty fantastic. Sure, it doesn't have iTTL, or even a functioning light meter (the mercury riddled batteries for it are no longer made). But, it's enjoyable to shoot with. It's slow operating, and only takes twelve shots to a roll. It may not seem attractive to todays PowerShot strutting user, but that's not the point. This camera's purpose is to enforce the user to take their time. Compose their image. And ask the often overlooked photography question: "Is this worth taking a photo of?"

Updated on Saturday, Feb. 15th 2020