The Favourite Camera Series – Marcia & Mike

When asked, Marcia & Mike replied:

1. If you were to choose a favourite film camera from your collection which would it be?

Of the 11 or so film cameras that I have my favourite is definitely my Yashica Mat 124G.


2. How long have you owned this camera?

I bought it new, probably close to forty years ago.


3. How did you come to own this camera?

I started out with Instamatics and 110 cameras, then ‘graduated’ to my dad’s old Argus when I was about 15. It had no lightmeter, guess focusing, four f/stops, five shutter speeds. And I couldn’t always afford film but I’d take that camera out and compose images, calculate exposure, and click the shutter. I moved from that to a Pentax Spotmatic-F, then a Minolta XD-11 (which I still own). Interchangeable lenses, power winder (I had to wait for the X-700 for a motor drive)… it made photography easy. The Yashica is not easy.


4. What things do you enjoy most about this camera?

I picked up the Yashica because if forced me to be creative. It does have a match-needle exposure meter, but it also has a big 6×6 cm frame, a waist-level viewfinder, a minimum focusing distance of about three feet, and a fixed lens. With 35mm (now digital) with the right lens combination one create any effect, even before Photoshop. With the Yashica I have to work slowly. There are only 12 exposures/ roll, so you think twice about tripping the shutter. Is this shot worth it? You consider, re-evaluate. Because of the WLF everything appears backwards, so if you want to add to the left side of the frame you need to angle the camera to the right. It’s driven several of my fellow photographers nuts, but I like it. You zoom with your feet. I’ve mostly used it for landscape work, either on a tripod or handheld, but it also works for street work. It’s not tiny, it’s not unobtrusive, but because you’re looking down, people don’t see the photographer in the same way.

P.S. I remember reading about someone on a plane with a Leica M4 or thereabouts. As they were preparing for departure the flight attendant came by and said, “Sir, you’re going to have to turn that off.” “I can’t.” was the reply. “Sir, we’re readying for take-off. You need to turn that off.” “I can’t turn it off. I can’t turn it on. It doesn’t have an off. It doesn’t have a battery.” “…(pause) Sir, you’re going to have to put that away.”


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