Saturday, June 7, 2008


It's busy at work, in part because I'm taking a week off from the end of next week; we're going to Sweden to celebrate Midsummer with my parents and my sister and her family (who all live in the USA, and who have never met Ritsuko, nor have I met them). This weekend is the last opportunity for me to do any real preparations for the trip, so blogging has had to take the back-seat for a while.

One thing I did today was to pick up a lens for my brother (camera equipment is still quite a lot cheaper in Japan than in Sweden even if prices have evened out somewhat). And as I was buying the lens I did the mistake of looking over a few of the used equipment shelves. And there it was: a Yashica Twin-Lens reflex camera in near-perfect condition.

Yashica Mat 124G
Yashica medium-format twin-lens reflex camera.

Digital SLR cameras are great: quick and easy to use; easy to bring along and readily adaptible to most any situation from portraits to sports. And it's digital, so you can take hundreds of images without worrying about space or cost. The problem is, those are all drawbacks as well. When it is so very quick and easy, it's so easy to just snap away without thinking through your composition, without thinking about what it is you want to show the viewer; without, in fact, thinking at all.

So using film, and medium-format film like this, is a good antidote. A TLR (twin-lens reflex) camera is by its nature fairly slow to use. You see the world back to front on a ground-glass screen at the top, not directly through a viewfinder. It's a fixed-lens camera so you have no zoom and no way to switch lenses. And a roll of medium-format film will give you 12 exposures in total, so you had better make each one count.

At the same time, pictures from cameras like this really are easier to get right than ever. Just bring your digital camera along, and use it as your combined light meter and polaroid back for test shots to see that your exposure is right. I'm looking forward to this. But no, I'm not taking it along on the trip, tempting as it is to do a "one picture per day" kind of thing with it.


  1. Now that's a camera.

    I got the Canon G9 recently, a point and shoot, that gives you the ability to make very manual settings if you want to. I think it's a good intro to photographer for a complete newbie like myself. I have already learned a lot!

    Some day I want to get a digital SLR though.

    I think the cost of developing film will keep me away from one of those badboys for a while though...

  2. The Canon G9 is a good camera. WE have one at work, and I've been playing with it a bit; the picture here is taken with it, for instance.

    The film developing cost isn't that bad. And you don't take a large amount of images with a camera like this, so even if developing a roll costs a bit of money, the cost over time is still very low. I expect to take no more a roll per month on the outside.

  3. Välkommen tillbaks!

    If you didn't already know, we've been having temperatures above 30 degrees for more than a week, only just dipping below 20 at night. It's summer "like it was when I was a kid", with not a cloud in the sky.

    But I trust that you will be met with the customary rain and chill if you come here for midsummer, though. It's tradition after all.

    (And I'm looking forward to reading a few blog posts about those crazy Swedish
    and how everything, even familiar things, is so strange here.) :-)


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