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.com/magazine/lifestyle/2009/06/21/tipster-of… Enjoy!!

  3. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Let me try again... www.lomography.com/tipster/2009/06/21/tipster-of-the-week-c… 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.com/magazine/tipster/2009/06/21/tipster-of-t… 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 :|

More Interesting Articles

  • Testing a Yashica TLR Camera After 55 Years in Storage

    written by billseye on 2015-05-11 in #gear #reviews
    Testing a Yashica TLR Camera After 55 Years in Storage

    Though I am not a professional, photography is in my genes. My father was a photographer and technician in the Air Force and accumulated a number of cameras during his life. This is a story about one of those cameras, a Yashica 635 TLR. I brought the camera—after being in storage for about 55 years—back to life with a roll of Portra 160 during the golden hour at Bellevue Botanical Gardens in Washington.

  • Vicuna's Travel Stories | On the Road in Burkina Faso

    written by vicuna on 2015-07-21 in #world #locations
    Vicuna's Travel Stories | On the Road in Burkina Faso

    Traveling in Burkina Faso is quite an adventure and a fantastic photographic experience. I went to this fascinating African country at the Sahel border twice and used many different ways of transportation.

  • Pushing Boundaries: So I Heard You Like Multiple Exposures

    written by Amber Valentine on 2015-04-11 in #world #tipster
    Pushing Boundaries: So I Heard You Like Multiple Exposures

    My name is Amber Valentine and I have a confession to make: I’m not really a photographer. I have a website full of photographs, a bookshelf full of cameras, film waiting to be developed, and a wall full of framed pictures I’ve taken. Even so, I don’t really consider myself a photographer per se. I think that Lomography is more about the experimentation and the fun of film than it is about the photography, and that experimentation is part of the reason I have embraced Lomography so.

  • Shop News

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Try the LomoLAB Development Service!

    Whatever kind of film development you're after, you'll find it here! Now you can confidently shoot from the hip without having to worry where to develop those film rolls!

  • Photo Stories: Iskra, Damaged Film, Surviving Photos by herbert-4

    written by Kwyn Kenaz Aquino on 2015-07-07 in #world #lifestyle
    Photo Stories: Iskra, Damaged Film, Surviving Photos by herbert-4

    Today’s featured member, Herbert, gives the impression that he is interested in people as much as he loves cameras—and he has many vintage treasures. Even a casual snapshot of his has a story that suggests curiosity about the people he photographs.

  • Registering Moments With the Lomo'Instant

    written by bgaluppo on 2015-05-02 in #gear #lifestyle
    Registering Moments With the Lomo'Instant

    Some people say instant photos bring about a feeling of nostalgia. Although I often use the Lomo'Instant Camera with different crazy accessories such as the Splitzer and color gels, I have to agree there is something about it — dreamy vignettes maybe? — that always makes me want to go back in time and experience it all over again. In the name of analogue photography and good old memories, we passed by some classic spots in Vienna and took one shot after the other. Take a closer look at our gallery.

  • Fed 5 - My First Analogue Camera in 2015

    written by whimsicalgrid on 2015-01-23 in #reviews
    Fed 5 - My First Analogue Camera in 2015

    Before the end of 2014, my girlfriend took the plunge of purchasing a rangefinder camera from eBay as a late Christmas gift for me. Let me present to you: the Fed 5. The Fed 5 has been known as a copy of the Leica M3 rangefinder camera. It is inexpensive compared to Leica models. So what are my experiences of using the Fed 5? Read on to find out more.

  • Shop News

    Check Revolog 36exp Plexus Effects!

    Check Revolog 36exp Plexus Effects!

    Feeling experimental? We have the perfect film for you. Load up a roll of Revolog Plexus 200 on your favorite 35mm camera and shoot as you normally would.

  • Caleb Savage: Into the Darkroom, Out in the Open

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-10-08 in #people #lifestyle
    Caleb Savage: Into the Darkroom, Out in the Open

    When asked to recall the moment they first became truly interested in photography, most photographers would remember the magical feeling of picking up a hand-me-down or secondhand camera, the thrill of shooting an entire roll through, and the elation upon seeing and holding their first ever set of photographs. Caleb Savage, however, had quite a unique experience. At 10 years old, he had his first taste of working in the darkroom making prints at Boy Scout camp, thereby beginning a more than a decade-long affinity with photography.

  • Skate Photographer Joe Brook Shoots with the Petzval Lens

    written by antoniocastello on 2015-02-06 in #people #lomoamigos
    Skate Photographer Joe Brook Shoots with the Petzval Lens

    Joe Brook is one of the most popular photographers in the West Coast skate scene, shooting for magazines like Trasher, Juxtapoz, Rolling Stone, and different outlets such as PDN and Kodak. Having previous experience with an old Petzval lens mounted on a 4x5 camera, it was but natural for him to try the new one. Brook talks about finding himself, his work, and shooting with the Lomograhy Petzval Lens in this exclusive interview.

  • Doug DuBois on My Last Day at Seventeen

    written by anamartaml on 2015-09-15 in #people #lifestyle
    Doug DuBois on My Last Day at Seventeen

    Doug DuBois spent five summers photographing the small neighborhood of Russell Heights in Ireland to capture the essence of coming of age: the inevitable loss of youth and the imminent transition into adulthood. Those four years resulted in his latest book, My Last Day At Seventeen. The book is a visual tale told through a collection of photographs and gives an alternative perspective through a comic narrative around the same subject. This creative combination of two distinct narratives in one book not only works wonderfully in visual terms; it also serves as an essential tool that lets the reader dig deeper into the story being told, making one go back to the book over and over again, yet from a new perspective, every single time.

  • Shop News

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    Diana Mini and Flash Petite Noire at 25% off

    At 25% off you can take dreamy 35mm images with this little black beauty. Beam coloured light into your shots with its accompanying Diana Flash Back accessory and be the analogue king of the night.

  • Shooting Squares with the LC-A 120

    written by pripri2000 on 2015-04-22 in #gear #news
    Shooting Squares with the LC-A 120

    Capture the world and all its contours in vibrant, wide-angled photographs any time, any where! The LC-A 120 is an adventure of its own with lots of exciting functions to experiment with, like seamless long exposures or full ISO control. It's also super-fast and ultra-compact - perfect for your everyday. If you're worried about the Medium Format film, don't be! You are free to use any 120 Film you want and there are plenty to choose from. In fact, that's what makes this camera so versatile! Scroll through this gallery for a little taste of the glorious shots this nifty invention is capable of.

  • Lomomowlem is our LomoHome of the Day!

    written by lomography on 2015-11-28 in #world #news
    Lomomowlem is our LomoHome of the Day!

    From everyone here in Lomography, congratulations to lomomowlem for winning Home of the Day!

  • Photo of the Day by daninueveveinte

    written by lomography on 2015-11-28 in #world #news
    Photo of the Day by daninueveveinte

    A photograph-worthy moment can happen anywhere, even when you're just patiently waiting for your train ride home.