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So got a yashica J that doesn't have an iso dial or meter and I was wondering does that mean my camera is only limited to a set of film iso or that I can't push or pull the film

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a Yashica J rangefinder or a Yashica Penta J SLR? \$\endgroup\$
    – xiota
    May 27, 2020 at 8:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just in case the answers below don't make it clear: You need to use a separate light meter to get the best results with that camera. \$\endgroup\$ May 27, 2020 at 12:26

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With a manual camera (assumed, as the Yashica Model J isn't familiar to me), pushing and pulling are just a matter of setting your external meter (hand held meter, smart phone app, or Sunny 16 rule) to a different Exposure Index (EI) than the ISO speed of the film that's loaded in the camera.

So, you've loaded Tri-X, ISO 400, but you're shooting in a bar late at night, and it's pretty dark, so you decide you need to push to EI 3200 in order to get hand held shutter speeds. All you do is set your aperture and shutter as if you had 3200 speed film, and then mark the cassette after shooting to remind yourself to process with a three stop push.

Bottom line, the camera itself has nothing to do with "pushing" or "pulling" film, it's the metering. In some cases, the camera has a meter, which you can set (or which sets itself, by reading the DX code on the film cassette), and changing this setting will, for automatic cameras, cause them to treat the film as faster or slower than its box speed. But for cameras without internal meters, it's up to the photographer to set whatever metering device is used.

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As far as I can tell, there is no built-in light meter in the Yashica J rangefinder. You should purchase an external light meter or use the "Sunny 16" rule.

There is no ISO setting because ISO is determined by the film you select. Exposure is further defined by the aperture, and shutter speed you select. To push or pull, change the shutter speed or aperture appropriately.

See YouTube: Yashica J Overview and Features

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Most of us with white (or none) hair, started our photography journey with cameras that did not have light meters. We consulted charts or used a hand-held meter or made guesstimates. Thanks to what is called “film latitude” most times we got acceptable results.

First, you should know, we set these cameras manually. This means there is not built-in automation so we must do the mechanical settings which involve setting the subject distance (focusing), setting lens f-number (aperture), setting shutter speed plus choosing a film with appropriate sensitivity (ISO).
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We often set the exposure using what is known as the “sunny 16 rule”. On bright sunny days, we set the camera lens aperture to f/16. We choose a moderate speed film, likely 100 ISO. We set the shutter to a value that borders the film’s ISO. Likely 1/125 second for a 100 speed film. Summation – set shutter 1 over ISO. For 200 ISO set shutter to 1/200 of a second or as close to this value as possible. Lastly, for bright sunlight vista set lens to f/16.

There are other ways – use a hand-held light meter. Use a modern camera, set to the same ISO as the film you are using, compose the shot and jot down the shutter speed and aperture settings it’s logic chose. Transfer these setting to your manual setting camera. Also you can consult a chart that likely comes with the film or one that you Googled as attached for 100 ISO film.

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If your camera has no light meter, there's no need for the camera to know what speed film is loaded. It would make absolutely no difference if it did know. All of the variables are controlled by the photographer.

You can use whatever speed film you wish in your camera, assuming your camera is capable an exposure time and aperture combination that will give you the exposure you want. If you try to use ISO 1600 film on a bright sunny day, you may find that the camera's shortest available exposure time and narrowest available aperture might still leave your exposure too bright. Or, even more likely, you might find yourself in a lower light situation where ISO 25 film shot at your lens' widest available aperture requires a longer exposure than is practical if you need to handhold the camera, or if your subjects are not totally motionless, etc.

To select a proper exposure time ("shutter speed") and aperture to get an acceptable exposure for any specific scene under any specific lighting condition with any particular speed film, you'll need to rely on something other than the camera to guide you.

  • Use known rules of thumb, such as the "Sunny 16" rule. This works well on a sunny day with no clouds. It doesn't help at all in many other lighting conditions, particularly in artificial ambient lighting.
  • Take a wild guess. The success of this method depends on your knowledge and experience.
  • Shoot in very low ambient light and use artificial lighting that provides known brightness. With strobe flashes you'll need to calculate the aperture needed based on the distance of each light source from your subject as well as your film's sensitivity. With constant lighting you'll also need to include the exposure time in your calculation.
  • Use an external light meter.

In the latter case, you'll need to tell the light meter what speed the film in your camera is or, if you're going to "push" the film, what speed you wish to use for the film in your camera. How you do that depends on the specific light meter.

For more about calculating exposure without a light meter, please see:

How did people calculate exposure in the pre-light meter era?
What is the EV scale?

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