Driving out on a Sunday morning to buy some bedding, the Waze navigational app took us to some back roads that my wife and I have never driven through before. Turning round a corner, we spotted a sign that said “Flea Market” pointing toward a field where some sellers have set up their wares on portable tables. We turned in to take a look as I always love bargains on interesting stuff at flea markets.
Keeping a look out for old cameras, I came across a seller who was selling mostly electronic stuff (speakers, amps etc). On one corner of her table was a collection of old cameras – chrome Minolta SRT101 with a non-Rokkor 50mm lens, chrome Pentax K1000 with a non-Takumar 30mm lens, Canon Rebel camera. $25 each. Nothing interesting I thought. Decided to dig through some of the old camera bags. First one I opened had what looked like a TLR (twin-lens reflex) in its brown leather case. It was a Yashica-44LM! There were other accessories in the bag:- 2 boxes of blue flash bulbs, a Honeywell flash where these flash bulbs attached, a mechanical cable release and the 44LM instruction booklet. “How much?”, I asked. The seller replied, “$25”. Sold! No bargaining.
Not knowing much about Yashica-44’s, I looked it up back home. The Yashica-44, 44A, and 44LM are a series of small twin-lens reflex (TLR) cameras, designed to give 12 exposures of 4×4 cm on 127 rollfilm. (Later I realised I had the Yashica-44A back in Australia instead of the Yashica-Mat that I thought I had – the photo below, taken in 2011, exposed my lapse in memory)
This 44LM looked like it had been well-cared for or hardly been used. The paint work looked pristine. Both the Yashinon 60mm f3.5 lenses were crystal clear. All shutter speeds and apertures seem to work as they should. The Copal-SV shutter opened and closed smoothly. The only thing is – 127 rollfilm is hard to obtain today.
Luckily with some modifications, the Yashica-44 can take in 35mm film. Possibly a project for the future. In the meantime, enjoy the photos of the Yashica-44LM below.
Doing some research on converting Yashica-44 TLRs to fit 35mm film, I found that the modification involved a simple unscrewing and removal of the top roller in the film chamber. However all these examples were done on the Yashica-44 model and not the 44LM. Comparing the film chamber of the 44LM to pictures of that of the 44, it looked like there were more components in the 44LM film chamber. Furthermore this 44LM I acquired is in almost mint condition with the light meter still working! Plus it seemed that they also have collectible value on eBay, so modifications may not be a good idea.
I ditched the 35mm modification idea but instead sourced for 127 rollfilm. Searching again on the internet, I came across this site: https://filmphotographystore.com . They sell a great variety of photographic film including 127’s! I ordered the ReraPan 400 B&W and ReraChrome 100 Color Reversal film ($13.99 each) made in Japan by Kawauso-Shoten.
My only experience using TLRs is with the Seagull TLR pictured above. That was bought new in Singapore for SGD$120. For a cheap introduction to medium format photography, the Seagull 6×6 TLR was ideal! It surprisingly produced very, very sharp 6×6 photos – likely helped by me using a small aperture but still the photos below bear testament to its sharpness!
With these pleasant memories from the Seagull, I look forward now to taking the Yashica-44LM TLR for a spin when those films arrive!
The RERA films arrived in the post today!
After some deliberation, decided to load in the Chrome first and head out later in the evening to take some shots!