Medium Format Rookie

My First Roll With Yashica Mat Twin-Reflex

4 min read by Seb Noury.
Published on .
This portrait is my favourite from the series. The focus is just right, contrasting with an amazingly soft grain and bokeh in the background. Thanks Anisia for your patience while I was clumsily adjusting the camera’s many knobs and getting disoriented by its inverted viewfinder!

This is my first ever roll of medium format film, shot over the course of a year in London. The enormous delay between opening the shutter and seeing the result a year later has been a very strange experience to me, as I used to get instant gratification (or not) from a direct flash of bright pixels.

The beast, Yashica Mat twin lens reflex camera.

The Yashica Mat is a twin lens reflex camera introduced in the late 1950’s, about twice as old as I am today. I’ve acquired mine a year ago for dirt cheap, while growing an interest for the history of photography. Both of its viewing and taking lenses have a focal length of 80mm (equivalent to 50mm on 35mm film, aka full frame), respectively opening at f/3.2 and f/3.5.

The following photos were shot on Fomapan 400 medium format film. Each black and white negative is 6x6cm, developed and scanned by Ilford Lab.

I’ve shot the first half-roll while exploring the Serpentine Pavilion and Summer House exhibition in Hyde Park with Anisia, during Summer 2016.

I was really concerned about having light leaks and inaccurate shutter speed given the camera’s respectable age, but aside from the underexposed first shot (should have trusted my judgement rather than my digital camera’s meter) they turned out fine. These have been taken with a yellow filter.

I’ve shot these two photos on Queensway in Notting Hill, during my friend Thomas’ last few days in London over Spring 2017. I should have kept the yellow filter to increase the sky’s contrast, but was too absorbed getting the framing right through the mirrored viewfinder.

I’ve taken these last few shots near Regents Park in early Summer 2017, just next to our home in Camden. I’m slowly getting used to the sunny 16 rule for exposure, although these would also have benefitted from the yellow filter.

This roll reflects a long span of time. To me it comes with a bit of nostalgia. A simple reminder of last month’s sunny weather in London; also with a bit of nostalgia.