Yashica MG-1 35mm Rangefinder
My first taste of film photography in the digital era was in 2010 after recently joining Flickr and having purchased my first ‘real’ camera with interchangeable lens, the M43 Lumix G1 (I will write a separate post on the G1). Knowing my new passion for photography, Dad dug out his late father’s (Grandpop’s) pride and joy, a Yashica MG-1. Grandpop was a huge inspiration to me and shaped me to be how I am today. I didn’t even know he liked photography but he seems to have passed on that trait to me too. What I now had was a 1970s fixed 45mm f2.8 lens 35mm rangefinder camera.
I knew absolutely nothing about old cameras and Dad knew even less. I rallied round my new found Lumix G1 UK Flickr pool friends for advice. Everyone was amazingly helpful and bit by bit I started to piece together the puzzle. I obtained a manual then sourced a battery that would fit the camera. Next to research, film! So much choice and no clue as to which film types were ‘better’ than others. Back to Flickr! I searched and reviewed each film type and looking at peoples example images and read forum discussions on the pros and cons of each. I found a series of photos that just said to me ’authentic film look’. I had opted for Ilford FP4+. This is ISO 125 fine grain B&W film. I hastily ordered 3 rolls from an eBay seller to try out. Colour film didn’t interest me but I was given some old Kodak film that had been in a cupboard for the last 10 years to try with too.
2010 – First test roll!
I was new to photography and in the process of teaching myself as I went with the Lumix G1. I tended to take photos of anything around me. Here are some samples from a one off random visit to Newcastle on a foggy cold autumn morning. Perfect for my new B&W vintage look film style I thought!
I sent my film to the UK Ilford Lab for developing. The prints came back together with scans on a CD in a very professional looking presentation box. They had done a great job of developing but it wasn’t cheap. After around 2-3 rolls of film my film fad was suddenly forgotten as fast as it had started. I had just discovered I could use legacy glass on the Lumix G1 and my new best friend was a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 lens. (See Voigtlander 40mm Flickr Samples ahead of the G1 review).
2012 – Film revisited!
I still had a roll of Ilford FP4+ looking at me on my camera shelf and he wasn’t going anywhere fast so I thought perhaps it was time to try film again. Much had changed since 2010. I had outgrown my old Lumix G1 and had joined the mainstream moving to Nikon. I had own and sold a Nikon D90 and Nikon D700 and was now using their latest offering , the full frame 36mp D800. Yes, things had got serious! My passion for photography had started to take over my life. I had found a use for all my reading and research and was now offering Photography Tuition to others teaching photography workshops on a 1-2-1 basis. I had also stopped taking photos of everything that moved and specialised to taking photos of everything that moved wearing high heels and a short skirt. Yes I now called myself a Model Photographer but also work as a Wedding Photographer. The downstairs of the house was now a permanent photography studio and I was doing 3 to 4 model shoots a week, not only in the UK but across Europe.
It was then when I thought, now is the time to try 35mm B&W film again. The Yashica is tiny compared to my digital offerings and the huge telephoto lenses such as the Nikkor 200mmf2 AIS. I tried to keep the rangefinder with me when I knew I had a good model to work with. The last of the three FP4+ roll of film was in the camera perhaps 6 months taking a few photos every so often.
It was now autumn 2012 and a new project was suddenly on the horizon. I felt I needed more than the Nikon D800 could offer me so the research had begun once again. It lead me to a whole new world that I did really know existed and that I knew absolutely nothing about. Welcome medium format photography! Many more late nights soon followed and within around two weeks I had absorbed a sufficient amount of information to talk (rave!) comfortably to others about this new phenomenon. Soon after I invested in a Contax 645 (review to follow) medium format film camera. Shortly after that a Pentacon Six TL (see review!)followed and with it came a new found love for Film Photography.
Home developed B&W Film
December 2012 and I had now purchased all I needed to develop my first batch of black and white film. I knew I still had the 35mm Ilford FP4+ finished film in my Yashica so I thought that would make a good test roll. Forgetting how to use the Yashica I opened the back to find the film had not been rewound letting some light in. It was now an even better test roll! I will discuss developing your own black and white film using a Paterson tank in a separate review but here are the photos that followed from that first test roll. I expected to see nothing on the film as just assumed I’d wrecked it letting light in or messed up my developing method despite trying to follow instructions posted by others on YouTube! I was like a big kid and there was much whooping when I saw the results. It had worked!
Since that last test roll I then went on to buy a Nikon FM 35mm film camera (another review to write). The FM’s primary advantage was the interchangeable lenses and therefore access to all my D800 Nikon primes. I think the Yashica MG-1 will be back in the cupboard now for another few years but never say never!