Yashica 635

As of last Saturday, I am a proud owner of a Yashica 635 TLR camera. It has been a longstanding dream of mine to own a TLR  – they just look really cool and they intrigue me for some reason. I had been looking for a Yashica D for a reasonable price on Ebay, but the ones where the seller is able to verify that the camera is actually in working condition tend to go for around $100.00 + which is way too much to pay for a “want,” that really isn’t a “need.” But then I came across this Yashica 635 on KEH in “Ugly” condition for a very affordable price when they had their 30% off film gear sale, and I couldn’t not take the risk of buying it. By taking the risk I mean that “ugly” condition on KEH often means that there are not only cosmetic issues with the camera, but usually also problems with something that is likely to affect image quality.

When my camera arrived, I was expecting the worst, but it really isn’t bad at all. Cosmetically, there is a barely noticeable dent on the corner of the viewfinder, but the rest of the camera is a really good shape considering its age. “Mechanically,” the viewfinder and mirror were dirty, and even after a good cleaning, the focusing screen seems a bit dim, especially compared to the focusing screen on my Mamiya RZ; both the viewing lens and the taking lens had some surface dust, and there is something looks like a tiny bit of fungus on the viewing lens. The camera also smells a bit musty on the inside. After putting two rolls of film through the camera, I think I can say with certainty that none of that seems to have any effect on image quality.

Here is a cellphone snapshot of my Yashica 635.


Mine is apparently one of the first about 4600 Yashica 635s produced when they came out in 1958 based on what some of the dials and knobs on the camera look like. I figured that out thanks to Paul Sokk, who has put together an amazing website with a wealth of information about all Yashica 6×6 and 4×4 cameras (http://www.yashicatlr.com) and whom I exchanged a few emails with while trying to figure out which period my camera belongs to.

I really like the images that this camera produces. I took several shots outside a few days ago while the kids and I were waiting for my oldest daughter’s school bus. Keep in mind that I have a very bare bones way of digitizing the negatives with a small light table and my Canon 5D camera with 50mm f/2.5 macro lens, so there is quite a bit of loss of quality on the digital versions of the images compared to what can be seen in the negative. My two favorite shots are below:

Sisters waiting for the bus:

(Kodak Tri-X 400, green filter on the taking lens, developed in D-76 stock)


“Stuck” between two big machines:

(Kodak Tri-X 400, developed in D-76 stock)


I also came to find out how easy it really is to accidentally do double exposures with the Yashica. I’m used to the Mamiya RZ Pro II where cocking the shutter also moves the film forward to the next frame and if you want to do multiple exposures you have to actually move a switch to make it possible. With the Yashica 635, however, you have to cock the shutter and then wind the film advance knob separate. I took a photo of my oldest during the same day, that I imagined would have turned out quite well, except I never advanced the film before also taking a shot of her and two other kids running to get on the school bus. So I ended up with both of those in one frame. That sounds kind of interesting in theory, but in reality, this specific shot really has no wow factor. I’m posting it anyway, as a lesson hopefully learned and never to be repeated.

(Kodak Tri-X 400, green filter on the taking lens, developed in D-76 stock)


2 responses to “Yashica 635

  1. Excellent read Anneli… your images came out super nice. The double exposure is actually very good. Paul Sokk is amazing in what he has compiled and made available on his awesome site. I owe many thanks for Paul’s guidance in my TLR quest. Enjoy your Yashica!
    R/ Chris

    Liked by 1 person

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