Yashica 124G with Velvia 50 -- help sought!

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Metricon, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. Metricon

    Metricon Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello all,


    I'm new to this forum and to medium format photography in general and would appreciate some help troubleshooting my new (used) camera.


    I recently bought a Yashica Mat-124G off ebay and shot a couple of test rolls with it, one being a Fuji Superia 400 and the other a Velvia 50.


    The Superia was first and I had it developed at my local lab. When I went to pick up the negs + prints, the guy commented on the sharpness of my images and asked if I'd used a Hasselblad. Unfortunately, I wasn't half as impressed as he was and felt certain I'd taken sharper photos with my Zenit EM with a Helios 44M lens. As this was my first try with the Yashica I put it down to inexperience and nervousness about handling the camera, although a couple of shots had been taken with the camera placed on firm support (e.g. pavement slab) so camera shake couldn't have been much of a factor really.


    The camera was advertised as fully working and in very good condition. The taking lens looks clear from the front but when looked at with the leaf shutter locked open in 'B' it's obvious that there are two whitish spots on one of the rear elements along with a couple of much smaller bluish ones. The whitish spots have frayed edges (though these are barely visible to the naked eye and I haven't got a loupe or magnifier that I could use to examine them more closely). Could this be a case of etching of the glass surface from cleaned-up fungus? Or an ongoing fungal infestation? :confused:



    Also there's not much left of the light seals on this camera. When I flip open the top to look at the viewfinder, there's always small bits of foam disintegrating and falling onto the surface of the viewfinder. I can actually catch a glimpse of the light meter from the slit.



    Anyway, I thought I'd have a go with a second roll of film and that's when I tried with the Velvia 50 (shot at 50 ISO) on a sunny afternoon. This time I used a tripod and cable release for some of the shots to eliminate the possibility of camera shake. The results came back just as disappointing as previously but being a novice with colour film and with slide film in particular I'm not sure if it's the camera that is to blame or my exposures. All of the metering was done through the camera's built-in light meter which is powered by the original 1.5 volt mercury battery. To my eye, there's a general lack of sharpness, the colours look unnatural and there's a purplish tint on some of the darker images. The slide stips do look better when held up to the light and viewed with a reversed 58mm lens but the scanned images look awful. Here are some samples:

    001.jpg


    005.jpg

    012.jpg

    Probably the brighest and sharpest shot in the roll:

    007.jpg


    All in all I'm rather disappointed and not sure what to do. :pouty:Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,352
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Location:
    Rome, Italy
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The original mercury battery (which should be 1.35 V and not 1.5) could be too old to give precise measurement.

    For a correct rendition of slide colours you should calibrate your scanner. On the brother side DPUG you'll find more information.

    The lack of sharpness might be due to a problem with the film tensioner in the camera, or a misalignment between focusing screen and film plane.

    In general, a camera is a precision instrument and the money saved while buying second-hand gives ample financial room for a good cleaning, lubricating and adjustment performed by a good technician. That would probably solve the issue with the lens (fungus or dirt), solve possible problems with shutter speed precisions and with film planarity.

    Fabrizio
     
  3. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,931
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I haven't done a whole lot with my 124G, and I have not disassembled the viewfinder area, so I'm not sure what's under there. At screen resolution here, your first three shots look a tad "front focused." So that might suggest the ground glass path is a bit out. The meter on mine is intermittent, as though the switch activated by lifting the lid may be dirty, but optically the results are excellent (I use a separate meter).
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,139
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    First thing that needs to be done is get the focus checked this is best done with a glass screen in place of film, but isn't quite straight forward as the tripod socket is in the door which opens, but it can be done. I have stripped a Yashicamat 124 to clean the screen etc and there's not much to go wrong.

    Then the lens needs checking to see if there is a problem.

    Ian
     
  5. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

    Messages:
    1,926
    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2008
    Location:
    Maryland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't know about you, but those look fine to me...
     
  6. amsp

    amsp Member

    Messages:
    159
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2012
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Your photos definitely look way off, how are you scanning them? First of all I would check the focus directly on the negative itself to make sure the problem is in the negative and not the scanning. If the negs really are soft then a service might be in order.
     
  7. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,191
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If the slides look better than the scans, I'd be suspicious of the scans.

    And as for focus errors, if you are new to using a waist level finder, you may find they take a little getting used to.

    Is there any chance there is a focus correction diopter installed in the finder?
     
  8. dehk

    dehk Member

    Messages:
    890
    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2010
    Location:
    W Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I actually looked at the samples and the sharpness looks about right for scans. About color, well I'd say don't use the on camera meter for slides. That will be why the colors are like that, or its the lab, but I'd say its the exposure first. But also hold the slides up to the light, if the colors on the slides itself are much better, than it's the scan.
     
  9. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,931
    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2006
    Location:
    SE Pennsylvania
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Heh heh, looks like so far the only thing consistent is the variety of opinions! :D Some of that may reflect our "digit@l intermediaries!" :cool:

    I suppose some of the problem could be in the scanning, but I'm doubting it. To me, in the one of the church (#3), the center gravestone, and particularly the one on the right, look quite sharp. In the 1st picture, the grass in the foreground about -- oh -- 6 or 7 meters out from the camera looks sharper than most of the rest of the shot. In both cases it would seem the focus was closer than infinity, even closer than hyperfocal setting for whatever lens opening was used. At ISO 50 the OP was probably not stopping down much, and depth of field would be limited too. Anyway, that's why I think the ground glass/viewing lens path is off a bit. (Of course, I admit we don't know what the OP actually tried to focus on either!)
     
  10. amsp

    amsp Member

    Messages:
    159
    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2012
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    My guess is it's a combination of focus errors and bad scans. The only shot that seems to be somewhat in focus is the last one, but it still looks like it was scanned on a cheap flatbed.
     
  11. guyjr

    guyjr Member

    Messages:
    126
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Location:
    NJ
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I love the lab shop comment "was it shot on a Hasselblad". In my experience, my 124 has consistently outgunned my 501CM in terms of sharpness. I find it a whole lot easier to focus, which goes counter to what I had originally expected after hearing such glowing praise of the split/prism accutematte finder on the 'blad (which, for me anyways, tends to be a whole lot harder to achieve critical focus with than the much lower-tech ground glass in the 124).

    Agree about the colors on the slides, they look off. No way to know if it's the scans or the slides without seeing the actual slides.
     
  12. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

    Messages:
    769
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    Location:
    Leiden, Neth
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Velvia (50) has always scanned terribly on my Epson flatbed. Contrast is more than the scanner can handle and the colours go purplish. I think the OP's scans look pretty good, considering.
     
  13. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

    Messages:
    786
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're really shooting with a 1.5V battery and your ASA dial is set to 50, then you're really shooting around ASA 20.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2012
  14. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,139
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If metrico is anywhere near to me in the UK I'd be quite happy to check the camera over and the meter. It might be sensible to for someone with experience to help elininate/diagnose any issue. I just found my first MF negs shot with a 124G back in 1970 :D

    Ian
     
  15. Metricon

    Metricon Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thank you all for your comments, thoughts, opinions and suggestions! I've looked at the slides again (unfortunately no lightbox or loupe, but I used a reversed 58mm lens that I had handy and the light from my computer screen) and the colours couldn't have been more lifelike. I felt almost as if I was there at the scene again! I guess I was so thrown off by the scans that I didn't pay enough attention to the slides at first, especially as trying to examine them closely without a proper loupe isn't easy to do. Also, not having used slide film before, I wasn't sure whether focus problems would be obvious just by looking at the slides. Anyone know what degree of magnification is afforded by a reversed 58mm lens? In any case, a light box and a proper loupe is now on my shopping list!

    So, in retrospect I doubt there was anything wrong with the exposures except for shot #1 (f 5.6, 1/250, BTW) where it's true that the focus is on the grass and not on the trees. DaveT, you're right! I can't remember whether that was the effect I'd aimed for or not...

    In shot #3 (the one with the church and the graveyard), I focused on the sunlit wall of the church, near the corner. I shot at f8, 1/30 sec and used a cable release to fire the shutter so that there was no discernible camera movement. When examining the slides, the church wall looks to be in focus and so do the branches right in front of the wall but the gravestones begin to be out of focus which is what I'd intended.

    Beginner's error: I think one thing I overlooked when trying to judge DOF is the difference between viewing and taking lens. I realise now that you can't accurately preview DOF on the Yashica Mat's focusing screen, presumably because the focusing lens is F2.8 whereas the taking lens is F3.5?

    I did take an awful lot of time trying to get the focus right, so long in fact that I worried I might wear the battery down, ha ha! (Fabrizio, you're right of course about the mercury battery, it is 1.3V rather than 1.5). Even with the supplied "Sportsfinder" aid (described in the user's manual as a "magnifying lens for critical focusing") I didn't find focusing on the 124G particularly easy but then I haven't got any other medium format cameras to compare it to. Matt, would a focus correction diopter be installed on top of the normal focusing screen or in its place? How would I know one if I saw one?

    Well, so much for using professional labs to have your film scanned! Though in all fairness Genie Imaging are probably the cheapest in the UK for E6... One frame is ruined by a couple of scratches on the emulsion and there's also what looks like a light leak on the right hand corner of the last frame (the church and graveyard image) which is there right on the slide...

    Ian, thank you for your kind offer but unfortunately I'm nowhere near you.

    EDIT: To make sure there's nothing wrong with the camera, I think some more testing might be in order. Perhaps with simpler subjects where focusing and depth of field are more straightforward to evaluate afterwards.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2012
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    17,191
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Metricon:

    First, I forgot to welcome you to APUG. So ... Welcome!

    The "Sportfinder" is actually a separate item from the magnifying lens for critical focusing. Yashica just combined the release for that magnifying lens with the Sportfinder latch. The Magnifying lens is where one would find a focus correction diopter, if one was installed. I don't know if that accessory is available for your camera.

    I use the magnifying lens for most focusing on my waist level finder cameras.

    In case you don't have it, you can find a manual for your camera on Mike Butkus' site here: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/yashica/yashica_mat124g/yashica_mat_124g.htm

    I recommend sending him his requested donation.

    Have fun with your camera.
     
  17. Metricon

    Metricon Member

    Messages:
    3
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi Matt, I've got the manual and yes you're right, I amalgamated the magnifying lens and the sportsfinder in my account! The sportsfinder is not the magnifying lens, it's the frame incorporated in the viewfinder hood. From what I've seen, a focus correction diopter doesn't seem to feature among the accessories available for this camera. I read a thread about a Rolleicord in which someone mentioned that every Rollei diopter he'd seen had the designation clearly printed on the top, e.g. "+1".
     
  18. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,091
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2010
    Location:
    Castle Rock,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wow, this thread is exactly what I love about apug.

    A guy is doing a combination of things that are new and unfamiliar to him and asks for help. A bunch of guys who really know what their doing quickly analyze it to death and tell him where several parts of his process went wrong (as well as what didn't), and how to correct them. Then the guy comes back to tell how startlingly accurate that advise was. The rest of us get a free photography lesson.
     
  19. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

    Messages:
    942
    Joined:
    May 21, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    HA...I was gonna say--you need to stop down more--the pics looked like they were shot at a big aperture--them tessars don't get good till f8 and best f11 some people say--so anything wider and sharpness will suffer--then later you say f5.6...so there is what I suspected....rest is all scan problems

    shoot that camera more stopped down--you got a tripod, then use it for what it's for then....you want wide open selective focus shots with super sharpness--you need planar--more corrreted lens--different camera--that's my take on it.