The Yashica 44 and 44a are a small-form Twin Lens Reflex cameras, patterned after the Baby Rollei.  They typically use 127 roll film, but that particular form factor is difficult to find, and I’ve only found one developing lab in the US that will handle it (Blue Moon Camera and Machine in Portland OR).  However I really enjoy shooting with TLRs and these particular cameras are apparently easy enough to modify to shoot 35mm.  I used the step-by-step instructions found on http://feuerbacher.net/, but since I had no euro coins, I used two US nickels which seemed to work.

Yashica 44A and 124G Pentax K-5 IIs (digital) Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Pentacon 29mm
Yashica 44A and 124G
Pentax K-5 IIs (digital)
Meyer-Optik Gorlitz Pentacon 29mm

I didn’t think to actually measure how far the film advance knob advanced the 35mm, so I guesstimated.  As you can see of the shots of the negatives, I went kind of conservative.  So in shooting, it felt just like my 120mm TLRs, only smaller.  The biggest adjustment I had to make was cocking the shutter before shooting.  I think I wasted some shots because I thought I hadn’t advanced, so I advanced, then ‘doh!’ I have to cock the shutter.  One of the other things I found was the frame was almost like a extended portrait form factor.  Different and something I’ll keep in mind when shooting in the future.  I might also try flipping over on the side after focusing and composing to get a mini-panorama landscape shot.  Also the lower edge of the shots have kind of a ragged look, likely from having to remove part of the internals of the camera.

Lots of blank frames.
Lots of blank frames.

All the following were shot by my Yashica 44a on Ilford FP4+, developed in Diafine.  Dust and such added after. 🙂 I had to manually select the frames when scanning as my Canon 9000f MkII did not auto-detect the edges.  I think I just selected the whole strip and then cropped each shot.

East Haddam swing bridge
East Haddam swing bridge
Goodspeed Opera House, lower level
Goodspeed Opera House, lower level
Goodspeed Opera House, river grounds
Goodspeed Opera House, river grounds

I liked shooting it so much I decided to get a regular Yashica 44.  The biggest difference for me between two are the regular 44 accepts the same bayonet filter mount as my Yashica Mat 124 and 124G.  The 44a has no filter mount.  Since I shoot a lot of B&W, filters are pretty necessary, and I already had a bayonet mount for the Mats. Also the 44 goes to 1/500 and has more typical shutter speeds (500, 250, 125, 60, 30, 15, 8, 4, 2, 1, B) than the 44a (300, 100, 50, 25, B).  The 44 also has a similar film advance lever as the Mat 124s, whereas the 44a is just a knob. Apertures appear to be the same, 3.5-22.  The shutter on the 44 is marked “Copal SV” whereas on the 44a it just says “Copal”.  Both lens are marked “Yashikor 1:3,5  f=60mm ” Aperture selection is different, the 44 has a little window near the shutter speed, on the side, with the advance on the left.  It makes it a little clunky.  The 44a has a selector knoblet, not sure the term, but closer to my large format cameras so quite familiar.  Neither has a light meter or an easy way to attach a remote shutter cable.  Both have nice focusing screens and what seems like finer control on the focusing than either of my Mats.

Yashica 44a on the left, 44 on the right.
Yashica 44a on the left, 44 on the right.
Advance mechanism, Yashica 44a with the knob (left), Yashica 44 with a lever (right)
Advance mechanism, Yashica 44a with the knob (left), Yashica 44 with a lever (right)
Yashica 44, aperture window (5.6)
Yashica 44, aperture window (5.6)

I haven’t put a roll through the 44 yet, so I can’t say how the results are, but I was quite pleased with the results from the 44a, well the ones that weren’t messed up because of operator error.  I will have more examples as I continue on my 52Rolls project.

One thing to note though is that the Yashica 44a is just a camera enthusiast name, there is no ‘a’ anyplace on the camera and Yashica did not refer to them as such.  You’d have to look at the the shutter speeds as the most reliable indicator if you are looking to purchase one.

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