35mm Yashica Camera Review (Yashica MG-1 Film Camera)
Less of a Yashica MG-1 review and more of how this 35mm film camera got me into photography. It might just inspire you to pick up an analogue camera! Including Yashica MG-1 sample photos and the transition to a Nikon FM and then other film cameras..
35mm Yashica MG-1 Camera – My first film camera and the camera that started my life!
My film photography – How it all started
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.
But I know absolutely nothing about film photography! I didn’t study it at school
So now I had a 35mm Yashica MG-1 film camera yet 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 Yashica MG-1 manual and then managed to source a Yashica MG-1 battery from searching online.
What B&W film should I buy?
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.
Yashica MG-1 Photos – My first test roll! Ilford FP4+ (2010)
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!
Ilford Lab UK B&W Film Developing / Processing
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 f1.4 blog post).
Film photography revisited! (2012).. and photography had got serious!
Bye Bye Lumix G1. Hello Nikon D800!
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.
Time to try Film Photography again!
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.
I discovered a whole new world.. Medium Format Photography!! . .The Contax 645 arrives!
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 (see review) 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 – My first roll of film worked! (2012)
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!
Yashica MG-1 Sample Photos
(Model credits (top down): Ellie, Ellie, Jodi)
Nikon FM SLR – Replaces Yashica MG-1
Since that last test roll I then went on to buy a Nikon FM SLR 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!
Yashica MG-1 – Off topic following the Momentum in my Photography
*The last few paragraphs of this post may still be of interest even if you skip the next section
(Dec13) Update – Reached 1000 Blog Followers & Exciting Year ahead!!
Wedding Photography – I have my highest number of Wedding Photography bookings in the diary to date. Really looking forward to getting out there and starting shooting now. I have been booked for Leica Wedding Photography in Barbados but I have to wait for 2015 for that one!
Leica Photography – The Leica M9 camera is ready to go with a fantastic line up of lenses to use for both Leica Wedding Photography and Fashion and Beauty Portrait Photography. Newer lenses include Leica Summilux ASPH 50 f1.4, Leica Summicron 50 f2 and Leica Elmar 135mm f4, Zeiss ZM Sonnar 50mm f1.5, Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii and Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f4.5. I now feel the Leica M9 camera can cover most simtuations I come across during a wedding day. It really is a fantastic tool for documentary style wedding photography. I may even look to get a second Leica body so I do not need to change lenses as often. 35mm is great for most occasions but sometimes you need a 50mm (or longer) and sometimes 28mm (or wider). I felt my most focused during my last Leica wedding when I shot almost the entire wedding day with just the CV 35/1.2 ASPH ii lens. In the past with my Nikon D800 I changed lenses too frequently so was less focused on what was happening around me. The Leica camera bag is also much smaller and lighter so I am much more mobile to get my shots.
Studio Photography – My Coventry photography studio has a new backdrop and new lights and can make use of the new Leica camera equipment in addition to the Nikon D800 and film cameras.
Location Fashion Photography – I am now more available to travel within the UK and overseas so I am looking forward to shooting in some fantastic new locations and collaborating with new models, designers and makeup artists.
Collaboration – I was luck enough to meet and work with some amazing people in 2013. As a regular model photographer I am only as good as my model. 2013 saw me work with some extremely talented and beautiful girls both in the UK and overseas. I strive to discover literally Britain’s next top model to help me raise my game to the next level. In 2013 I often worked 1 on 1 with models without additional hair and makeup artists. I found I am able to apply eye makeup and can direct models how to apply their makeup for the look I desire. I also found myself enjoying styling the models hair during shoots to get new and creative looks from the basic materials. I will try anything to enhance my photography! Despite me discovering these un-expected talents, in 2014 I want to now start collaborating more with makeup artists, stylists, clothes designers and model agencies to help a team of people create something really special.
For the 2013 weddings I met some really lovely wedding couples and very helpful venue staff, wedding planners and event managers. I also worked as a freelance wedding videographer shooting alongside various talented videographers / cinemaphotographers. I look forward to the wedding photography / videography bookings I have for 2014 and the people I will get to work with at those events.
Event Photography – After photographing a New Year’s Eve fashion show Asian bridal catwalk last night I really got a taste again for event photography. I have covered fashion shows in the past but not as many in 2013. I look forward to getting involved in more fashion shows in 2014.
Studio Photography Workshops – Word is starting to spread that I run photography and lighting tuition workshops from my Coventry studio and the number of bookings continues to increase. I have had interest from as far as Australia as well as clients living in Switzerland and Denmark. I tailor the photography workshops to suit individual needs. Photography courses include: Understanding your new DLSR / digital camera, what is Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, how to read a Histogram, RAW or JPEG, how to pose and light a model, flash photography using a speedlight or studiolight, balancing flash light with ambient light and even how to develop black and white film.
Location Photography Workshops – New for 2014, I plan to run some location photography workshops in some of the UK’s larger cities to begin with such as Birmingham and London. I will arrange for a professional model to join us for the day and will teach you how to pose and light a model on location using both ambient light and speedlights. Looking further ahead I may offer trips to Poland and Ukraine for those interesting in travelling to a different country to work with local models and making use of the countries architecture. Poland and Ukraine are amongst my favourite locations for model photography outside the UK. If you are interested in either UK or overseas photography workshops please get in touch to give me an idea of numbers, thanks.
Film Photography – An exciting year ahead for my film photography. I now have a range of Leica M mount lenses that I can use on my 35mm film camera – Voigtlander Bessa R3A. I have new film backs for my medium format Mamiya RZ67 Pro II so can now shoot it in 6×6 and 645 formats. I plan to do some landscape photography with my 6×9 Russian Moskva-5 folding camera. I am also looking forward to using some new film types and comparing them to the Kodak films I most often use.
Polaroid Photography – I now have a RZ polaroid film back for my Mamiya RZ67 pro II that produces 7×7 images. I have stocked up on the black and white Fujiflim FP-3000B that has now been discontinued and also on colour Fuji FP-100C. Looking forward to doing some RZ polaroid portraits!
All in all exciting times ahead! 🙂
What else may 2014 bring?
Leica Summilux ASPH 75mm f1.4 – I am really interested in this lens. I see it as a Leica Lux’ 50 but on steroids doing all that I love about the Summilux 50 but bigger and better. The sweet spot for me on the Lux’ 50 is at f1.4 at 0.7M. If I bought a 75mm lens it would be to use at f1.4 at 0.7M as much as possible. This rules out all other 75mm lenses (Leica Summicron and Summarit and Voigtlander Heliar).
Hasselblad Flexbody – Now this really excites me. It is almost large format photography yet you can use and develop 120 medium format roll film in a Patterson tank (rather than sheet film needing a dark room).
Happy New Year from MatthewOsbornePhotography and thanks for the 1000 or so followers that joined me in 2013!
(2018) Update – Since 2012 things just got crazy!
2010 was the beggining of a very very addictive slippery slope. Now in 2018 if you visit my Film Photography blog section you will see just how many different film cameras I have accumulated and use. Half frame 35mm, full frame 35mm, medium format 645, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9 and 4×5 large format cameras! Everything from multiple Leica film cameras, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Rolleiflex, Fuji, more Nikon SLRs and then all the lenses for each camera system! I moved from the Nikon D800 and now shoot with digital Leica cameras. I still teach, I still do weddings, I still fly all over the place searching for the most beautiful girls on the planet to photography and I still shoot and develop my own film (now both B&W film and colour film!).
The camera gave me my voice and improved my life for the better
The last 8 years of my life has been quite a journey (in terms of non stop cameras, photography and learning) but I’ve loved every minute. Photography has opened so many doors for me and given me so many opportunities. Having a camera has given me a voice (literally). I barely dared to look up when walking in the street let alone try to make eye contact with a pretty girl before. Having a camera slowly built my confidence enough to now approach these same girls and engage in conversation. Why? Because I knew if they would let me take their picture they would like the photos and then in return would be happy to be around me. It sounds very shallow but this increase in general confidence then slowly improves all other aspects of life and I feel I now enjoy my life more than ever before. It sounds cheesy but it was the camera that gave me my voice.
If you have never used a film camera treat yourself. It might change your life the same as it did for me! Head over to eBay and pick yourself up a £100 film camera. Go buy a few rolls of film and then let the magic begin! Enjoy!
- How to Process Film through to Digital (Develop, Scan, Edit)
- How to Develop Film at Home (Step by Step Guide)
- Rodinal Stand Development / Semi-Stand Development (Guide)
You may also like… What Gear I Use for Portraits!
- See full details of my portrait photography lighting kit – HERE
- See full details of my portrait photography equipment kit – HERE