Yashica is a huge manufacturer of 'affordable' TLRS in Japan and the 124G is one of the latest in the production line. The 124 and 124G is basically an identical camera with just a different outlook. All dressed in tuxido black even down to the metal trims and the contact point is supposed to be gold plated to enhance conductivity. I really love the look of this retro MIB sort of camera but comparing it with it's elder Yashica siblings, I could see corners been cut here and there and introduction of plastic parts to lower down production cost. What a shame ! I have the privilege to test out the older model 124 and the winding crank is a lot more smoother and silent. The 124G winding crank sounds like a moving ratchet with loud clicking sound which turns me off totally. It feels like I'm using motorized pencil sharpener.
All of the Yashica TLRs come with either the Yashikor lenes for older models or the Yashinon lenses on the newer ones. The Yashinon is a Zeiss Tessar copy with 4 elements glass. Image produced from this lens is lower in contrast and saturation as compared to the Minolta Autocord which I have just recently reviewed. For this lens, the center sharpness is decent enough for shooting wide open but corner is a little soft. It doesn't have the bite like the Autocord but it's a whole different look. Color seems more subtle and so is the contrast. Overall the lens is pretty good but there is a catch, it is prone to fogging hence becareful when you are purchasing one. I have a friend who has gotten one which is foggy and it's impossible to clean even by the professionals. Hence BEWARE to check it thoroughly !
The metering on my particular unit is already dead as I got it as a bargain hence I can't comment how accurate it would be. I shoot with the external light meter or sunny 16 anyway hence it's no biggie. The waist level finder is pretty bright and clear but it's a little dimmer as compared to the Autocord or Rolleflex.
The camera layout on the 124G is pretty much like all of the TLRs with focus knob on the left hand side while the winding crank on the right with both the camera setting dials situated right in between the taking and viewing lens. Not much worth mentioning there as it's the standard layout for most TLR camera out there in the market. It can't match Rolleiflex in term of optics and built quality, in fact it's not intended to do so but it does serve it's purpose.
Pros : Reasonable price around RM 800 to 1k ish on ebay, a good entry level TLR with built in light meter.
Cons : The winding mechanism is a little rough and the ratchet sound is rather annoying sometimes. The lens is prone to fogging, suspect is the internal lubricants breaking down after many years. Apart from that there is not much complains for a camera at this price range.
Buying tips : Be sure to check thoroughly specially on the taking lens to ensure no fogging. The built in light meter may or may not work but of course if you could find a working unit that is an added bonus. Apart from that the camera is pretty well built and almost problem free.