Written by Samantha Stortecky
Hello friends! Welcome back to another camera review.
I’m super excited to talk about and review one of my favorite medium format film cameras, the Yashica Mat-124G. I got this little beauty a few years ago as a Valentine’s Day gift from my husband, and it’s one of my favorites!
Now, let’s talk about this pretty little camera!
Find the Yashica Mat-124G at KEH Camera or on eBay.
Technical Details of the Yashica Mat-124G
Alright, let’s jump into some of the technical details of this camera.
The Yashica Mat-124G definitely has a very hefty feel to it, weighing a little over 2 lbs. It’s one of those cameras where you can feel how sturdy it is when it’s in your hands. Even the levers for focusing and advancing film have a weight to them.
This camera captures square images that are around 6cm (2.36 inches), and a typical role of 120 film will give you 12 square images.
The lens on the front of the camera is 80mm f/3.5 and gives really beautiful and crisp images. When I put images from the Yashica Mat-124G side-by-side with images from my Pentax 645n, I can’t tell them apart when it comes to image quality.
The Mat-124G does have a light meter. It’s a little yellow arrow that moves from left to right at the top of the camera. It does a decent job, but when in doubt, I always suggest using an external light meter.
On either side of the camera, there is a small metal hook, so using a neck strap is easy and something I definitely recommend, especially if you plan on using the flip top viewfinder!
When holding the camera, on the left side you have a dial that is used for focusing your image, and on the right side you have a lever for advancing your film as well as the image counter and ISO dial.
For the price point, this camera creates such beautiful imagery. I believe one of the biggest contributors to this camera creating lovely, sharp images is the focusing nob on the left side, it turns a little bit slower than other cameras which gives you greater precision when focusing for your image.
Speaking of the price point, it’s one of my favorite parts of the Yashica Mat-124G! I was able to get this camera for around $200 pre-owned.
When it comes to loading film into the Yashica Mat-124G, this camera works very similarly to most medium format cameras.
You can use both 120 or 220 film with this camera, and loading it into the camera is quite simple. Twist the dial on the bottom of the camera to pop open the back. The film is loaded at the bottom of the camera by pulling the knob to the left, inserting your film, then letting go of the knob.
Then, thread your film into the empty spool at the top of the open back. Crank the film winder until the arrow on your roll of film lines up the green arrow near the bottom of the camera (if you’re shooting 220 film, you’ll match the arrow on your roll of film to the red arrow on the camera).
If you’re used to shooting medium format film cameras, loading up this little beauty will be a piece of cake!
Now, let’s talk about shooting. This can possibly be the most challenging part of this camera as it has a bit of a learning curve with it.
One of the coolest parts of the Yashica Mat-124G is the fact that you can see the image you are about to take from the top. Instead of using a typical viewfinder, you get to use the flip-top, waist level viewfinder to see your image.
As cool as this is, one of the learning curves to using a waist level viewfinder is how you are positioning your photos. Every movement you make and what you see in front of you will be reversed in the viewfinder, which can make it a tad bit challenging when taking and framing pictures.
But mastering this aspect is totally worth it, believe me!
Biggest Pro and Con of the Yashica Mat-124G
One of the major pros in my personal opinion is using the waist level viewfinder and being able to see this version of your image before you actually click your shutter. This adds a whole other level of love to the whole shooting experience!
And I won’t even lie, it makes for some pretty awesome Instagram photos as well!
And for me, the biggest con is the amount of images you get per roll. Shooting 120 can already get expensive, so it’s a bit of a hit on the wallet when you only get 12 images out of a roll of film.
Because of this, it makes it difficult to use this camera in situations where you need to shoot and run through film at a faster rate.
Overall, this is such a terrific camera to add to your collection. It really gives such a unique shooting experience and at a really reasonable price point.
Plus, it doesn’t look too shabby when sitting on a shelf in-between shoots.
Thanks so much for reading! Have you ever shot with the Yashica Mat-124 before? And as always, any questions or comments that you have, leave them below so we can chat all about film stuff!
Thank you so much, Samantha! Samantha is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out her other articles here, including and how to shoot Kodak Portra 400 and Intro to Disposable Cameras: The Fujifilm Quicksnap and the Kodak FunSaver.
You can also check out more of Samantha’s work on her website and Instagram.
Let us know any questions you have about the Yashica Mat-124G below in the comments, and you can pick one up for yourself at KEH Camera or on eBay.
Check out all of our camera reviews here.
December 18, 2020 at 1:27 pm
You can’t beat the price for a medium format – it’s a great deal and perfect if you’re starting out with MF. The first time I used mine I had to go on faith because it makes hardly any sound….(because of the leaf shutter)…it also has a pop-up magnifier to help with the focusing.
December 19, 2020 at 10:47 pm
Could not agree more! It’s such a wonderful choice to get into medium format. And thank you for the tip about the pop-up magnifier!
John W. Weber
September 1, 2022 at 5:55 pm
I had a Yashica D a few years ago, but the ex took it and sold it. I’m looking to buy a 124G can you recommend a reputable place to purchase one.
December 19, 2020 at 6:52 am
“When I put images from the Yashica Mat-124G side-by-side with images from my Pentax 645n, I can’t tell them apart.”
Is there a conversion kit available for the Yashica that enables it to do 6 x 4.5cm frames?
I’d have thought one key difference between a Pentax 645 and a Yashica TLR, is that the latter produces square images, the former, rectangular.
Are all the author’s Pentax negatives cropped to square prints; or Yashica negs, cropped to 645?
December 19, 2020 at 10:44 pm
Thanks for commenting, Brett! This statement is referring to the image quality from the two cameras and the sharpness of the lens on the Yashica Mat 124G, not the image size. You are correct that the images from the Yashica Mat are in square format and the images from the Pentax are in 645/rectangular format. We adjusted the wording in the post so it’s more clear!
September 1, 2022 at 6:37 pm
KEH Camera is an excellent place to buy film cameras! You can also try the used cameras at B&H Photo or Adorama.
March 11, 2021 at 10:55 pm
I have one of this in perfect condition. I am selling it. If you know some one interested in it please share this post. Thanks!
May 27, 2021 at 3:30 pm
Found a Yashica TLR in a shop, but could not get shutter to release, after cranking film advance. Broken? Or does it have to have film loaded, etc? Otherwise, it was in great shape.
June 27, 2021 at 1:17 pm
STEVE CAVALLERO In order to release the shutter the film advance crank needs to be wound forward and then backward (approx 1/2 turn) to its resting place. Also, make sure the shutter lock isn’t engaged. It’s the little lever under the shutter release button.
March 31, 2022 at 7:18 pm
I have one that I bought about 40 years ago. I didn’t use it much, as I found that the pressure needed to release the shutter made it difficult to keep the camera stable, so a tripod was required. Do you think the shutter release or other parts may need to be serviced?
April 1, 2022 at 4:01 pm
Hi Berry! I would shoot a test roll to make sure that the shutter is firing and that there are no light leaks on the images. If you run into any of these issues, the camera will probably need to be serviced.