This mid production run Yashica Mat 124G was purchased from a private seller and sold as being in excellent condition. Optically, it was good with very little dust and scratches although some early signs of fungus was visible in the viewing lens.
I have read that the winding mechanism on these can be a bit noisy, this one was a real ratchet, not helped by a dent in the side case.
Yashica’s are clearly built to budget and their thin aluminium shells are easily damaged (from the slightest impact) – more so than earlier models.
So off came the leatherette, front cover and side plates. The winding mechanism was cleaned and lubricated. The side plate was carefully knocked back into shape, replaced and re-covered. The winding mechanism now operated smoother and a tad quieter – but it wasn’t going to be Rollei smooth.
The Copal shutter tested nigh on perfect and was very crisp in operation.
The mirror box was cleaned and the mirror replaced. The matte focus screen is made up of two components, a ground glass matte and a plastic freshnel providing a bright evenly lit WLF.
The Yashica Mat 124G was the last TLR from Yashica made between 1970 and 1986. It sports a match needle exposure meter and once I had put in a new Wein cell, it not only worked but also seemed quite accurate.
Both lenses were removed for cleaning. The Yashinon 80mm f/3.5 is a fully coated Tessar clone with 4 elements. The viewing lens is a Yashinon 80mm f/2.8 triplet which certainly adds to the viewfinder’s brightness.
Prior to refitting the lenses I checked the lens board for squareness by using a depth micrometer to measure the shutter lens flange to machined casing edge distance. All measurements were within a 0.05mm tolerance (x and y plane). I then re-fitted both lenses and checked taking lens infinity using a matte screen and digital camera (with telephoto) for collimation. I then reset the viewing lens and checked both near and far distances using a digital camera and macro lens (at 10x magnification) focussed at the WLF screen.
Once happy, I replaced the lens cover plate, re-glued the front leatherette, gave the exterior a good clean and replaced all light seals. Unfortunately, the ever ready case had seen better days.
The Yashica Mat 124G is a well appointed Rolleiflex clone that’s clearly built to a price with plastic used on some exterior parts. The internals seem robust enough – if they are cleaned and lubricated regularly. If not, then you may find that the winding mechanism seizes.
Due to recent demand prices vary considerably, so expect to pay anywhere between £100-£200 and factor in a CLA at the cheaper end.
All in all, the Mat 124G is a great introduction to TLR photography.