Camera Reviews

Yashica-12

On my short list, in my inner circle, of favorite cameras is my Yashica-D, a medium-format twin-lens-reflex camera. It is such a joy to shoot! And it delivers excellent sharpness and contrast with buttery bokeh. What’s not to like?

Except that it offers no onboard light meter. I wished for one. I like the Yashica-D so much I shoot it often anyway, but I’ve always wished I didn’t have to guess at Sunny 16 or fumble with an external meter while doing so. So I’ve had my eye on metered Yashica TLRs.

Yashica-12

Recently I bought this Yashica-12. I paid more than I’ve ever paid for a camera in my life: about $135, shipped.

Longtime readers will remember my soft $50 upper limit for any camera. But my motives are changing. I want to have a handful of go-to cameras that deliver great results, and are mechanically reliable over the long haul. I’m now willing to pay more for a camera in that select group.

So why this Yashica-12 when there are so many fine Yashica Mat 124Gs out there? Two reasons: (1) I like to be different, and (2) this one had already undergone a CLA (cleaning, lube, and adjustment) by Mark Hama, the well-known Yashica repairman who long ago built Yashica TLRs at the factory in Nagano. That CLA probably cost as much as I paid for this Yashica-12 — which made this camera a real bargain. I love a bargain! So there’s a third reason.

Yashica-12

The Yashica-12 offers an 80mm f/3.5 Yashinon taking lens and an 80mm f/2.8 Yashinon viewing lens. These are said to be four-element lenses of Tessar design. The taking lens stops down to an itty-bitty f/32 and is set in a Copal SV shutter that operates from 1/500 to 1 second. The camera takes film from ISO 25 to 400. Those relatively low top ISO and shutter settings do limit what this camera can comfortably shoot to things that aren’t moving. But it’s not like you’d want to photograph racing cars or running quarterbacks with a heavy TLR.

The one thing I didn’t enjoy much about my Yashica-D was its slow, clunky knob film winder. The 12’s crank is fast and sure. And it cocks the shutter for you; the D has a separate cocking lever.

Using the coupled light meter is a breeze. It’s match-needle all the way. Opening the lid turns it on. It takes a dreaded, banned 625 mercury battery, but I just dropped in an alkaline 625 cell. Everybody says that messes with your exposures but that’s never been my experience.

Yashica-12

The meter needles are just north of the viewfinder on the top of the “Yashica-12” plate, which is perfect because as you prepare to take a photo you’re already looking in that direction. To set exposure, first turn the dial on the camera’s upper front corner, on the right as you peer down into the viewfinder, until your film’s ISO appears in the window. Then twist the aperture and shutter-speed knobs (on either side of the lenses) until the needles match.

Like any Yashica TLR, if you press in the plate in the middle of the lid, a magnifying lens pops out. It’s indispensable for my middle-aged eyes. That lid section also locks in place so you can use the square in the lid as a viewfinder.

The Yashica-12 makes 12 square photos on each roll of 120 film. The better-known Yashica Mat 124G takes both 120 and also 220, which is the same film as 120, but there’s twice as much of it on a roll. I don’t think I’m missing out by not being able to shoot 220.

By the way, if you’re into Yashica cameras also check out my reviews of the Electro 35 GSN (here), the MG-1 (here), the Lynx 14e (here), and the T2 (here). Or just check out all of my camera reviews here.

I loaded a roll of Kodak Tri-X into my Yashica-12 and went shooting. My favorite thing to do with a new-to-me old camera is take it on a road trip. Margaret and I explored the Lafayette Road while the 12 still had shots left on this roll, so it came along. This photo is in Lebanon, Indiana, across from the Boone County Courthouse.

Please be seated

And here’s that courthouse. It was completed in 1911. The top of the dome, above the clocks, is made of stained glass.

Boone County Courthouse

And what would a trip up the Lafayette Road be without at least one photo of this great sign? This junkyard has been out of business for many years now, but I had one adventure buying parts for an old car here before it closed.

Wrecks

Later I took the 12 out to make portraits of my sons on Kodak Ektachrome E100G. I like this one best.

Damion

I also took the 12 on a short road trip to Thorntown. This continues the Lafayette Road theme because the road’s original alignment ran through Thorntown, right by where this now-vintage Marathon service station would eventually be built. Kodak Ektar was inside the 12.

Marathon

I did have some unfortunate fogging and light leaking on this roll.

Thorntown Police

Concerned that something might be wrong, I loaded some Ilford Pan-F Plus 50 and shot one more roll. It had no difficulties.

Available

I shot this film because I never liked it much and just wanted to burn it testing this camera for leaks. Yet this film really performed behind this Yashica glass. I’ll remember that for the future.

3151

See my entire Yashica-12 gallery here.

Me and Yashica-12

I loved shooting this camera. I look forward to many, many years of enjoyment with it. But it did have a couple quirks, a couple things I wish were better.

First, I sort of miss the winding and focusing controls being on the same side of the camera, as with my Yashica-D.

Second, the ASA (ISO) scale is odd: 25, 40, 80, 160, 320, 400, with dots between the settings. For ISO 100 film, such as Ektar, I set it one dot right of 80, but I wish this were more sure. Or maybe I should just shoot Portra 160 in it!

Finally, the f-stop scale is labeled with yellow numbers, which my middle-aged eyes struggle to see in dim light.

I can adapt to the first two quirks. The last one…well, it’s not the only thing my eyes don’t see as well anymore. Soon I’ll need to carry cheaters with me everywhere I go. At least the Yashica-12’s viewfinder magnifier lets me focus with ease.

And I’ll do a lot of focusing with this delightful camera. I look forward to many years of pleasure and great results with it.

If you like old film cameras, check out all of my reviews here!
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History, Road Trips

Whatever happened to Traders Point, Indiana?

It’s been gone for a half century, but there used to be a village right here on the Lafayette Road in what is now northwest Indianapolis. All that’s left is an abandoned farm co-op building and a county maintenance garage. Yet if you’ve ever spent any time here — encountering the two churches, the giant shopping center, and maybe even the rural historic district that all bear the village’s name — you’ve certainly heard of Traders Point. It was needlessly demolished.

Traders Point, Indiana

This land was part of the Miami Indian Confederacy upon Indiana’s 1816 founding, but was surrendered in an 1818 treaty. Settlers started to trickle into the area in the 1820s, and the first land patent in this area was issued in 1822 (to William Conner, who went on to settle in Hamilton County; his farm there is now an interactive history park). Conner believed that Indians and fur traders transacted business here, and this is probably how the area came to be called Traders Point.

TradersPointMap
Imagery and map data © 2016 Google.

The Lafayette Road was built through the area in 1831; it is said to have been a corduroy road here. A church was founded near here in 1834; it later moved to the village and became Traders Point Christian Church. It split into two in about 1895, creating Traders Point Church of Christ. Both still operate today, just farther north on Lafayette Road.

Settlers kept arriving, but it wasn’t until 1864 that a village was platted here and officially named Traders Point. Over time, it became a typical Indiana small town with a general store and a grist mill. In the 20th century, two automobile service stations opened here. Homes lined Lafayette Road on both sides. Population never crested 100.

Courtesy of Traders Point historian Ross Reller, check out these historic photographs of the village of Traders Point.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You may have noticed two photos showing Traders Point underwater. Eagle Creek frequently overflowed its banks. Floods in 1913 and 1956-57 were especially heavy and destructive. Check out this remarkable film footage of the 1956 flood, also courtesy Ross Reller. It shows a soaked Traders Point, but more interestingly also shows the homes and churches and businesses nestled here, in color.

To control the flooding, the county purchased 2,286 acres along Eagle Creek southwest of Traders Point and built a dam.

EagleCreekReservoir
Imagery and map data © 2016 Google.

The project lasted four years, from 1966 to 1970. It created Eagle Creek Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to most of northwest Indianapolis and is a popular fishing and boating spot. Much of the surrounding land was converted into Eagle Creek Park, lovely and wooded, one of the largest city parks in the United States.

I’ve lived within five miles of this park for more than 20 years and have hiked and biked and fished here many times. It’s a great park! And a side note for my longtime readers: the reservoir disrupted the Dandy Trail, an 88-mile pleasure drive around the county that I wrote about here and here.

But the people of Traders Point were hopping mad about it when it came, because the Indianapolis Flood Control Board invoked eminent domain, purchased all but one of the village’s buildings, and forced everybody out. It was apparently thought that the reservoir would permanently flood Traders Point and close the Lafayette Road here.

With the exception of the farm co-op building, Traders Point was razed. But then this land never flooded again — because as part of the flood-control project, a levee was built along Eagle Creek’s west bank. The demolition of Traders Point was wholly unnecessary.

Here’s the co-op building. The co-op remained in business until 2011; the building still stands. There were glimpses of it in the 1956 film.

Traders Point, Indiana

I took this photograph standing maybe 100 feet south of the co-op, looking north. 50 years ago, the other side of the road was lined with homes and churches.

Traders Point, Indiana

This county maintenance garage was built after Traders Point was demolished. I think it stands about where Resler’s Garage did.

Traders Point, Indiana

This little structure just south of the green shed is one of Indianapolis’s “tox drop” sites. On one Saturday morning each month, residents line up in their cars to drop off used motor oil, paint, solvents, and other toxic items that shouldn’t be left in regular trash or washed down a drain.

Traders Point, Indiana

And finally, here’s the levee that stands behind where the homes and churches used to stand on the east side of Lafayette Road. There’s a place to pull off the road and park here, and people fish off the levee all the time.

Traders Point, Indiana

And so that is what happened to Traders Point. It’s the story of a town that didn’t have to be demolished.

Many thanks to Ross Reller not only for granting permission to use his photos and video, but also for all the research into Traders Point’s history he’s done over the years, which I used extensively to write this post. His Historic Traders Point blog hasn’t been updated in a while, but it is full of great information at https://historictraderspoint.org/.

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Co-op

Co-op
Yashica-D
Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros
2016

Film Photography
Image
Preservation, Road Trips

The demolition of the Lafayette Road bridge over Eagle Creek

This concrete-arch bridge was in sorry, sorry shape.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

It had carried Lafayette Road across Eagle Creek in northwest Indianapolis since 1925. The southbound lanes had, at any rate; the bridge was widened to add northbound lanes in 1935. But in 2009, when I took these photos, it had been neglected for a long time.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

I think neglect was the plan. When Indianapolis merged with the rest of Marion County in 1970, there was no money to maintain all the infrastructure the city had just taken over. A few years earlier, this bridge was the state’s problem: it was part of US 52. But the state had routed that highway along nearby I-65 when it opened, and relinquished Lafayette Road to the county. And then it became the city’s problem.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

The city’s neglect ended up working out: federal funds became available to pay for most of this bridge’s replacement. Maybe that was the idea all along, because maintaining this bridge properly would have been all on the city’s dime. At any rate, the city demolished this bridge in March, 2009. I documented the whole thing in photographs.

Lafayette Road (US 52) Bridge

Several of those photos showed how this one bridge was actually two. You can see it in the arches. To build a concrete-arch bridge, a wooden formwork is first built on the site and concrete is poured into it to create the arch shape. The wood planks of the formwork leave their mark in the arch. Notice how this arch has a medial seam, showing that two formworks were used to build this bridge. The 1925 portion of this bridge is farthest away; the 1935 portion nearest.

Old US 52 bridge demolition, week 2
Old US 52 bridge demolition, week 2

The bridge’s deck was the first thing to go. Notice that the space between the deck and the arches was filled with soil! The 1925 portion of the bridge — with its former outer wall — is on the left. Notice how it’s narrower than the 1935 portion. The 1925 road was probably only 16 feet wide, a common road width then. But in the 1935 widening, the road was more than doubled in width, and the 1935 portion of the bridge reflects that.

Week Three
Week Three

Next they removed the arches one by one. I walked right out onto the bridge during demolition to take these photos. I can’t believe there wasn’t more security in place to prevent such things!

Week Four

And finally, the bridge was gone. The road remained closed for most of the year while a new bridge was built.

Traders Point, Indiana
Traders Point, Indiana

Here’s that new bridge today. As you can see, it has no arches; it’s a modern and unremarkable steel-stringer bridge. At least the railings are somewhat interesting. It’s altogether too common to use plain Jersey barriers as bridge railings today.

It’s sad that the old bridge was left to rot as it did. I’m all for saving old bridges. But the new bridge is wider, which makes it able to include bike lanes. Lafayette Road has them all the way to the county line. I think that’s a win.

Longtime readers with great memories might remember that I wrote about this demolition while it happened. See those posts here, here, here, and here.

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Margaret

Margaret
Nikon D3200, 18.0-55.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX Nikkor

We stood on an abandoned alignment of the Lafayette Road for this shot.

Photography
Image
Road Trips

Old and abandoned alignments of Indiana’s Lafayette Road, part 2

On Monday, I shared a couple old concrete alignments of the Lafayette Road in Marion County (Indianapolis), Indiana. The Lafayette Road was built in the 1830s to connect Indianapolis to Lafayette, and later became US 52. Today, most of it in Marion and neighboring Boone Counties is a local road. On Monday I shared the old alignments in Marion County; today, it’s Boone County.

After the Lafayette Road leaves Marion County, it passes through maybe 1,000 feet of Hendricks County on its way into Boone County. Just beyond the county line the road once curved twice, but when the road was widened to four lanes in about 1935 those curves were straightened. Here’s what that spot looked like in 1937, the old alignment clearly visible and still in use for local access.

LRmap3_1937
Courtesy MapIndy, http://maps.indy.gov/MapIndy/

This same spot is barely recognizable from the air today. I-65 was built right through here in the 1960s, bifurcating the old alignment. And then the construction of a subdivision removed its northern tip.

LRmap3_2016
Imagery and map data ©2016 Google.

As you enter it northbound from the south, at first this alignment is paved in asphalt. But if you follow it back a little ways, you find this short strip of concrete. This is a southbound shot.

Concrete alignment

Another bypassed segment of the road lies a couple miles north of here, at Whitestown Parkway. I did some research in historic aerial imagery and maps, and discovered that this segment was bypassed as early as 1939.

Imagery and map data ©2016 Google.

The short section south of Whitestown Parkway is abandoned. The concrete we found up to now looked to be 16 feet wide, but this seemed to be wider — 18 feet probably. This is a southbound photo.

Abandoned alignment

Walking in a ways, we found what looked like the foundation of a building lying across the road. My research led me to a 1961 aerial image (that I’m not showing here because it is overlaid with copyright watermarks) that shows a small building with a pitched roof right here. What could it have been?

Abandoned alignment

Walking in farther, we could see the end of the line. A creek lies beyond that pile of brush, the bridge that once spanned it long gone.

Abandoned alignment

North of Whitestown Parkway, this road is still driveable. It’s signed as Cozy Ln. here.

Cozy Lane

The Lafayette Road originally passed right through Lebanon. But by 1951, when this road had been US 52 for almost a quarter century, a bypass was built around town. It was two lanes wide at first, but by the early 1960s it had been widened to four lanes. And then as I-65 was built here shortly afterward, it was routed along this bypass. But north of Lebanon, I-65 takes a more northerly route than US 52, and the two roads diverge there. It left a short segment of that bypass behind. It’s been abandoned ever since.

LRmap5
Imagery and map data ©2016 Google.

Here’s what it looks like on the ground. It appears to be used for access to some sort of business, which you can see in the background. The lane on the left is the original Lafayette Road alignment.

Abandoned four-lane highway

Here you can see where the old southbound lanes line up with current US 52, which from here to the north mostly follows the Lafayette Road the rest of the way to Lafayette.

Abandoned four-lane highway

One last old alignment, about two miles north of State Road 47.  It’s hard to see on this aerial image, but it lies on the east side of the current road.

LRmap6
Imagery and map data ©2016 Google.

This old alignment led to a bridge that no longer exists. South of Sugar Creek, the road looks to be in bad shape, perhaps even reverted to gravel. But north of the creek, it’s still paved because it serves one property. This shot is southbound.

Abandoned alignment

This shot is northbound. It’s just a short little segment.

Abandoned alignment

What’s interesting is that this road might not actually be the original Lafayette Road alignment here at all. My old maps show the road going through Thorntown, which is about three miles southwest of here. They suggest that the blue route below was the Lafayette Road’s original path! The green star shows where this bridge was. It appears that the current alignment of US 52 was built about 1925, and even then, this segment near Sugar Creek wasn’t even paved at first.

LRmap7
Imagery and map data ©2016 Google.

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