Yashica Mat

The first Yashica TLR with advance crank was the Yashica Mat, introduced in 1957. The first units of these camera were fitted with a Lumaxar f/3.5 and 75mm taking lens, and a Lumaxar f/3.2 and 75mm as the viewing lens, followed later by similar lenses although in a 80mm version. Depending on who you ask, the Luxamar were either provided to Yashica from the West Germany and assembled at Nagano (this is the version maintained, among others, by Mark Hama who was an employee at the factory), or else were made in Japan by Tomioka. About 95% of the lenses were 80mm, and those earlier units also have other differences (i.e. they have the old speed scale - B, 1, 2, 5, 10, 25, 50, 100, 250 y 500 - versus the new scale of later units - B, 1, 2, 4, 8, 15, 30, 60, 125, 250 y 500. The lens, a Tessar-like design of 4 elements in 3 groups, was later renamed as Yashinon.

Another feature, following the trend that Rollei set with their Rolleiflex, is that the shutter is automatically tensioned after the film has been wounded by that advance crank. A detail about this camera: _never_ try to use the self timer when the flash synchronization is in the "M" setting. Actually, the shutter has a locking system to avoid accidental misbehaviors, so once more the Golden Rule applies: never apply force.

As far as I have seen, the Yashica takes B1 accessories, with t he possibility of using B1 to 49mm adapters that are more or less easy to obtain.

The shutter used was most of the time a great Copal MX or MXV, with a top speed of 1/500 in any case, of course always flash synchronized. There were three lenses used for these cameras:

  • Tri-Lausar and Yashimar: Old triplet designs, without too much acceptance or quality, although I have not really done my own tests

  • Yashikor: Another triplet, although improved and with multicoating, offers quite a good performance especially when stopped down to f/8 or lower. Taking into account that they can be obtained at a better price, they are the best choice when entering into Medium Format in general or TLRs in particular.

  • Yashinon (or Luxamar): 4 elements design, a Tessar copy. Provides the best performance among all the lenses available for the Yashica Mat, and was nearly on level with the Rolleiflex's Tessar and Xenar (although light loss towards the corners can be easily noticed on big prints). Even so, they are generally best performers than the Yashikors.

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