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  1. #1

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    Yashica 124G with Velvia 50 -- help sought!

    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?



    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:

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    Probably the brighest and sharpest shot in the roll:

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

  2. #2
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    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
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
    Stock images at Imagebroker: http://www.imagebroker.com/#/search/ib_fbr

  3. #3
    DWThomas's Avatar
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    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. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    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. #5
    EASmithV's Avatar
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    I don't know about you, but those look fine to me...
    www.EASmithV.com

    "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."— Dorothea Lange
    http://www.flickr.com/easmithv/
    RIP Kodachrome

  6. #6
    amsp's Avatar
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    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. #7
    MattKing's Avatar
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    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?
    Matt

    “Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”

    Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2

  8. #8
    dehk's Avatar
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    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.
    - Derek
    [ Insert meaningless camera listing here ]

  9. #9
    DWThomas's Avatar
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    Heh heh, looks like so far the only thing consistent is the variety of opinions! Some of that may reflect our "digit@l intermediaries!"

    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. #10
    amsp's Avatar
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    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.

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