What’s big, black, and has two large circles right up front? A 50 year old camera, that’s what. Get your mind out of the gutter.
The Yashica D (referred to after this point as just ‘the D’) is a twin lens reflex medium format camera made between 1958-1972. I picked one up through eBay on the cheap with the expectation that I’d have to send it in immediately for adjustment. After shooting a few rolls through I’m happy to report that everything seems pretty spot-on. Which for it’s age I find pretty amazing considering everything is mechanical using only gears and springs. So, basically, it’s a giant Swiss-watch on steroids that can take pictures.
Using the D is a completely different experience than shooting with modern cameras. It has a waist-level viewfinder you look down into, and the entire image appears backwards. It takes some getting used to, but the fun factor is off the charts. Nothing about the camera is automatic except for the self timer, and it (surprise!) also worked without fail.
The one drawback (if you can even call it that) is that it’s pretty easy to forget to advance the film after taking a shot, resulting in multiple exposures. There’s no safety preventing you from taking 10 shots on the same frame. Which really is just my ‘user error’ issue (hard to believe, I know). While testing the self-timer I actually ended up with a happy accident creating a neat ‘three bottles of whiskey’ double-vision effect.
Below are a few test images I’ve shot around Harrisburg this weekend. Now that I know it works, I can’t wait to shoot some people… with the D.
(Click to open the gallery)