Yashica MAT 124: Learning To Use A Camera Older Than Myself


As a young photographer, I don't have many experiences yet in operating an old camera, especially one that is way older than myself. This is a story of me and my Yashica MAT 124!

I bought my Yashica MAT 124 a few months ago. I was really excited about it, until I realized that I made a mistake…

I bought this camera at a local antique shop. At that time, I didn’t have any experience with choosing and buying non-Lomography cameras, so I didn’t have any idea on what to look for when I buy one. But still, I fell in love with it at first sight and felt like I must have that camera!

Photo by abecd

Only when I tried to operate it, I realized that I made a mistake. The light meter was not working! And I didn’t have any idea about exposure at that time. I thought that I could just learn it while photographing with the Yashica MAT 124 without any research. I have never been so wrong.

My first roll with the Yashica MAT 124 was completely blank. It was way overexposed. I was frustrated and almost gave up. But then I got the spirit to learn and do some research. I found an exposure table, so I grabbed a film to try it out.

It was better than the last time, but still not good enough. I only got 5 out of 12 photos.

Photos by abecd

After that, I did some more research and started to ask around for advice. One of the pieces of advice I got came from Lomoguru adi_totp, who said that I should set the f-stop at f/8 with the shutter stop at 1/125. So I tried it, and it went well!

Photos by abecd

But it’s still not enough. My mentor (who happens to be the owner of my usual lab) said that it’s still a little bit overexposed, so I took a month to take a break from learning and just continue after. My motivation to learn came back as one of the lomographers I met through Instagram, woodyshakti, said that I should use the sunny 16 rule. So I took the advice and continued learning. The result was better, but I still felt a little bit disappointed about it…

Photos by abecd

Now, I am close to getting the perfect exposure. Based on my experience, 16 is too bright, and when I use an ISO 100 film, I should set the shutter speed at 1/125, and so on. So during my next learning session, I set the f-stop at f/22 and shutter speed at 1/125 (i used ISO 100 film). And the result is satisfying! But still, I think that I can have some better photos with the f-stop at f/32…

Photos by abecd

That has been my story with my Yashica MAT 124. It was stressful, frustrating, and full of tears. But I love that camera as my photography skill is improving with it. I will take some more photos with it soon!

written by abecd on 2014-03-27 in #lifestyle #analogue-photography #old-camera #yashica-mat-124 #tlr


  1. bsdunek
    bsdunek ·

    First, you need to get a light meter. Find a used hand held one, and be sure it works. You can't just use one f-stop/shutter speed combination for everything if you want good photos.
    As an alternative, you might try cleaning the battery compartment if there is any corrosion, and putting in a new battery. It may be that is all that is wrong. You can probably use the correct Wein Cells, as the original battery was probably mercury and no longer available.
    Second, you're getting "print-through" of the markings on the backing paper. This is usually because the film is old and hasn't been stored properly. I suggest you buy some new film, you'll be suprised at the difference.
    Good luck! That is a good camera.

  2. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Here's an exposure table article from an almost 50 year old handout mimeographed page from a photography class: www.lomography.nl/magazine/lifestyle/2009/06/21/tipster-of-… Enjoy!!

  3. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Let me try again... www.lomography.nl/tipster/2009/06/21/tipster-of-the-week-co… I'm doing this from an oldish Android e-book reader, and it won't cut-and-paste. This will hold you until you find light meter. Also, does light meter work on camera?

  4. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Still not right!! This is with the computer: www.lomography.nl/magazine/tipster/2009/06/21/tipster-of-th… and here's a instruction manual: www.butkus.org/chinon/yashica/yashica_mat_124/yashica_mat_1… The lightmeter uses a PX13 battery 1.35v, so use Wein Cell MRB625 or find a MR9 adapter for 386 battery.

  5. abecd
    abecd ·

    @herbert-4 @bsdunek Thanks for the advices guys!^^ @herbert-4 the light meter is completely ruined, but the camera is in a good condition except for the light meter

  6. abecd
    abecd ·

    @bsdunek i'm confused... i got the print through from a lomography film, but when i used an old kodak film, there is no print-through :|

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