Yashica 6×6 TLR (knob advance)

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Japanese 6×6 TLR
Postwar models (M–Z)
6×6cm
M–Z
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The first camera of the Yashima company (predecessor of Yashica), was the 1953 Pigeonflex, a 6×6 TLR sold by Endō under the Pigeon brand. The company soon decided to make cameras under its own name and released the Yashimaflex, quickly renamed Yashicaflex, in the same year 1953. It would be the first of a long line of 6×6 TLR cameras, comprising many models which were the result of a gradual evolution rather than radical change, and sometimes differ by minor points only; they are conveniently divided into knob advance models and crank advance models.

Contents

The Yashimaflex

The first model Yashimaflex was already a complete TLR camera. It was closely related to the Pigeonflex, both having the same NKS shutter and Tomioka Tri-Lausar lenses. The viewfinder hood design has been changed so thereby accommodating a sports finder viewing feature. There seems to be various shutter versions; the NKS with speeds up to 1/200 and a later FB version that increase to 1/300.


Yashicaflex B

The Yashicaflex model B is an updated version of the Yashimaflex released in approx 1953. This is not to be confused with a later Yashicaflex B with Copal MXV shutter or the Yashica B. It shares the 1/300 of a second NKS-FB shutter as the later revisions of Yashimaflex. Early versions tend to use ASA style flash sync while later one use the German PC type sync connectors.

Yashicaflex A

The Yashicaflex model A was released almost the same time as the Yashicaflex B. It is a more basic model that does not have self-timer, and have a maximum shutter speed of 1/200. There seems to be two shutter types available YSK and a Copal version. Uses a red window for film advance counter. Early models tend to have focusing scales in meters and cable release shutter while laters ones are in feet and have a dedicated shutter release button on the body.

A similar Yashicaflex AII was also released at about the same time, but with automatic film stop winding and an exposure counter window instead of the red window. Two shutter types were available YSK and Copal. Some models have cable release shutter while others have a dedicated shutter release button on the body.

Yashicaflex C

The Yashicaflex C features Yashikor, Tri-Lausar lenses with a quick Copal based shutter supporting speeds of up to 1/300 of a second a long with a self-timer. It uses a exposure counter above the focus knob. It was most likely targeted as a step below the Yashicaflex S, as it contains similar features but without a exposure meter.

Yashica Rookie

The Yashica Rookie is an amateur budget model TLR camera. It seems to be based on a updated Yashicaflex A, but with a faster shutter. It uses Yashimar lenses with a Copal shutter with speeds of 1/25 to 1/300 and bulb. It has the ability to capture on both 6x6 as well as 6x4.5. It seems to be only available in Japan. The film compartment uses a mask for 6x4.5 and the back has two window one for each format to view the backing paper exposure markings.

Yashica-A

The Yashica-A is an amateur budget model released at the same time as the Yashica-C. It it most likely based on the Japanese market Yashica Rookie as it share many similarities but without the 6x4.5 compatibility. It was released in various colour bodies and leatherettes. Its main features are twin Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 lenses taking bay filters. Yashimar branded lenses are on the earlier models. It uses a Copal shutter, with shutter speeds of 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, and 1/300. It has a PC connection for flash sync, and because it uses a leaf shutter, it is capable of X sync at all shutter speeds. It does not have low shutter speeds or a self-timer.

Operation

Shutter speed is selected by rotating the shutter speed dial. Aperture is set by adjusting a lever on the outside of the shutter speed dial. Film advance is performed by manually turning the advance wheel until the next frame number appears in the red window on the back of the camera.

Yashica-C

The Yashica-C is a more expensive model than the Yashica-A. This added expense allows more control with the Copal-MX shutter. This shutter has more speed settings from 1 to 1/300 of a sec as well as self-timer. The lenses take a bay filter. This model has auto-stop film advance. The original version had a counter that needed to be reset with a button, while later revision models are automatic without the button.

Yashicaflex A-2

The Yashicaflex A-2 uses Citizen MXV shutter with speeds of up to 1/400 of a sec. Film is advance by turning the advance wheel until the next frame number appears in the red window on the back of the camera.

Yashica-B

The Yashica-B is a basic model variant released just before the 1960's. The camera uses a Copal shutter, but since this is a very basic entry model, shutter speeds are limited with speeds from 1/25 to 1/300 of a sec. (25, 50, 100, 300). The Yashikor lenses do not take bay filters, which were on most of the other cameras in the lineup. At the time of release the Yashica-A was still sold with a similar shutter but the Yashica-B has a film counter window and self-timer that the Yashica-A lack. It is available in both black and grey leatherette.

Yashica-D

The Yashica-D has a Copal-MXV shutter, with shutter speeds of 1 – 1/500. It provides a PC connector for flash sync; and because it uses a leaf shutter it is capable of X sync at all shutter speeds. Be sure to set the flash switch to the "X" position when using an electronic flash. The M setting is only used for flash bulbs (now hard to find).

Early models were equipped with a coated three-element Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 taking lens, while later models had the higher-quality, four-element Yashinon 80mm f3.5 taking lens. The last Yashica-D models were equipped with bright 80mm f/2.8 Yashinon viewing lenses; models with this viewing lens and the Yashinon taking lens are very desirable on the used market.

The taking lens accepts Bay I filters and hoods. Use a hood to prevent flare.

Operation

Shutter speed and aperture are set by turning small dials on the front of the camera just above the taking lens until the appropriate number appears in a window on the top of the viewing lens. The focus knob is on the right side of the body along with the film advance knob. The advance knob has a film speed reminder dial as well as a film release button. The shutter has to be cocked after each exposure. The shutter release is on the front in the lower right hand corner. Use of a cable release requires a Leica nipple. After the shutter release has been triggered, press the button on the film advance knob. Rotate the film advanced knob by manually cranking the knob clockwise until it stops turning. A small frame counter is visible on the side of the camera above the film advance knob.

Since the camera does not have a light meter, use a hand-held light meter or the sunny-16 rule.

Yashica-635

The Yashica-635 is basically a Yashica-D with the added ability to use 35mm film as an alternative to 120. To use 35mm requires an adaptor kit. Novelty aside, the purpose of using 35mm in a 6×6 format TLR is unclear, unless an urge to shoot 35mm Kodachrome was overwhelming. It seems that you get all the disadvantages of the TLR format (parallax, reversed viewfinder for framing, slow use) without the number-one advantage of the format, the huge film size. Nonetheless some people find this feature useful, effectively making two great cameras in one. When shooting 120 film, the standard 80mm lends itself well for landscape or architecture but lacks focal length needed for portraits. However, when loaded with 35mm the 80mm lens is ideal for portraits.

The early 635 can be updated from Yashikor to Yashinon lenses by competent repairmen.

Among collectors, the 635 is a little more desirable than the D but the 635 can still be found for less than $100 (sometimes less than $50). At these prices the D and the 635 are great alternatives to the overpriced Chinese TLRs still available new today.


Metered Models

Yashicaflex S

The Yashicaflex model S released in the mid-1950's was one of the most advanced TLR produced by the company. They worked with Sekonic to manufacture the selenium exposure meter. The meter is located behind the name plate which has holes to read the light levels. It can also be flipped upward to for measuring low light scale. Both Tri-Lausar and Heliotar lenses are available both using bay filter mounts. Shutter speeds are 1 to 1/300 of a second either using NKS-FB or Copal shutters. It uses a frame counter instead of a red window.

Yashicaflex AS

The Yashicaflex AS is a metered camera released about the same time as the Yashicaflex S. It was designed as a more basic metered camera compared to the Yashicaflex S with a slower maximum shutter speed of 1/200 and a red window for a frame counter. It is essentially a Yashicaflex A, but with a Sekonic exposure meter.

Yashicaflex AS-II as the name imply is based on the Yashicaflex AII (counter window) but contains a exposure meter. Uses Yashimar lenses with Copal based shutter with 1/10 to 1/200 of a sec. Initial models has the cable release shutters, while later ones have a dedicated button on the body along with PC based flash sync connector.

Yashica LM

The Yashica LM is an advance model with a built-in exposure meter. It was made as a replacement to the older Yashicaflex S. It is similar in design to the Yashica Hi-Mec and was released at about the same time as Yashica-C sharing the same basic attributes but without the meter. It uses a Yashikor 80mm 3,5 lens. The shutter is a Copal-MX with speeds of 1 to 300 of a sec with bulb, in the older style speeds of 1, 2, 5, 10, 25 etc. Early versions had a downward sliding button located between the focus and advance dials to reset the exposure counter while later versions were automatic.


Yashica-E

The Yashica-E was an attempt by Yashica in 1964 to make a TLR as simple to use as a P&S. It has a single shutter speed of 1/60 of a sec. The f-stop automatically set by the built in selenium light meter that surrounds the Yashinon 80mm f/3.5 taking lens. Wind on is semi-automatic and there's even a built in flash that takes peanut flash bulbs hidden behind the E's name plate.


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