Early Spring and late Fall are my favorite times of the year for woodland photography. It isn’t because it’s cool and pleasant to be in the woods, but because there are no leaves on the trees then, and it’s the only times of the year that the forest floor gets enough light photograph the little critters, mushrooms and other fascinating organisms that live and die in the rich ecosystem of the forest floor.

In spring, before the canopy greens out and cuts off the light, the typical eastern US woodland has lots of tiny flowering plants with exquisite blooms. These are so small that you’d need to use a macro lens to get a decent sized image and see the detail.

Once the dense overhead canopy fills out, the forest floor gets very little light, so there’s not much in the way of flowers, but there are bugs and beetles galore, strange fungi, lichens, molds, mushrooms everywhere. The problem is finding enough light to take the picture. I’ve used a regular flash in the past, but the effect was always weird and unnatural looking.

To use natural light, I needed fast film ISO 400 etc AND a longer exposure, which needs a tripod. That pretty much limits hand-held photography to taking pictures of rocks, rotting leaves and mushrooms. Little forest critters move pretty quickly, vanishing under leaves and twigs like magic.

A few months ago, I found a Yashica Dental Eye camera with a fixed 50mm f/4 macro lens and a built-in ring flash. It was in great condition except for some very minor traces of battery leak corrosion. I took a chance and made the purchase, with the intention of returning it if I could not get it to work.

I cleaned out the battery compartment with a cotton bud dipped in white vinegar, and that was all there was to it. The camera works fine now, and the 50mm f/4 macro lens is a 1:1. This was the original Dental eye camera based on a FX3 body, I think – the later Dental Eye cameras have the suffix Dental Eye II and Dental Eye III, and they have a 100mm Macro lens. Check out the Micro/Macro section for more information on the Dental Eye.

This is a GREAT camera for woodland photography, and the possibilities are endless. The built in ring flash is powered by a battery pack that is fixed on the bottom of the camera (looks like a motor drive, but it’s not). Most of the Yashica cameras from this era have crumbling leatherette covers.

Mine started off fine, but now it looks patchy in a few places. This is purely a cosmetic issue, and should not deter anyone from buying the camera, especially if you can get it in full working condition with case for less than $100. I guess I will be replacing the leatherette soon.

The ring flash provides an even natural looking light. I’d swear it was daylight if I didn’t know better. There is a small supplementary lamp within the flash to provide some light for focusing. I think I will be using this camera a lot. I ran off a roll in the nearby woods along side a small stream. I really didn’t go looking for subject matter, since I was just running a test roll. This camera is a keeper. Here are some of the pictures…


Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye

Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye

Photographed with a Yashica Dental Eye camera (fixed 50mm f/4 1:1 macro lens and Fuji Superia 200 film


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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