Seeing Rolleiflex cameras used in movies made it look like TLR photography would be great fun - Fred Astaire photographing Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face, for example. When I properly took to using film in 2008, I wondered if might try it for myself. Not quite willing to invest in a Rollei, I nevertheless very much wanted a camera with a crank to advance the film, so looked instead at the various Japanese-made TLRs, and settled for a late-’50s Yashica Mat. This I obtained via ebay from a lady whose partner had apparently used it when illustrating the motorcycle repair manuals he wrote in the ’60s.

My Mat is shown above, dressed up somewhat with a lens hood, and with a corrective optic of some sort (intended to help with taking close-up shots, as I recall) placed in front of the upper lens (which otherwise would be less protuberant). I used the camera a good deal for about a year, and it was exactly as much fun as it thought it would be: I always loved using the crank. Then, however, the shutter started to stick sometimes at slower speeds. Learning that there was a repairman still active who had worked in the Yashica factory, I sent it off to him for a CLA: quite a costly exercise with the transatlantic shipping factored in. It worked very well again after that, but only for another three or four years, whereupon the shutter began sticking anew. Subsequently the camera was relegated to a drawer, one from which it has yet to re-emerge.

Sadly, I think my TLR days are now behind me. I shoot film so seldom these days that using a single SLR seems quite sufficient. Plus the costs of film and processing seem higher than ever. Still, I’ll miss the thrill of looking down on to the focussing screen and seeing a bright image on it (such as the slightly out-of-focus one below), and of clicking the shutter and turning that crank.