Vintage and Classic Cameras
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Vintage Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras.

The earliest Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) cameras were large wooden box affairs from the late 1800s. All TLR cameras have two linked lenses of the same focal length, arranged so that they both focus together. The top viewing lens projects the image via a reflex mirror onto a ground glass screen for the photographer to inspect, and the lower "taking" lens which actually makes the image. The idea being to focus and compose the image with the plate (or film) loaded and ready to shoot, right up to the moment required. With fewer moving parts than the SLR, TLRs were simpler to make, but with no means to change the aperture on the viewing lens, depth of field cannot be judged visually and there's a degree of parallax when the camera comes close to the subject. The TLR matured in the late 1920s when the first Rolleiflex was introduced and the 6 x 6cm TLR was born. They enjoyed considerable success in the commercial photography market for fashion photography and had a reputation for quality. This in turn lead to numerous companies producing cheaper versions, some good - and some not so good. Best used for subjects that aren't moving as the projected image whist being upright, is reversed and the photographer generally has to look down into the shade to view it, making panning an all but futile pursuit. This shortcoming is partially addressed in some designs by having panels in the hood that open to produce a frame finder, and others that have a mirror that can be positioned to reflect the view horizontally, but still reversed. Many have swing out magnifiers that allow the photographer to inspect the centre of the image for critical focus. In short, whilst the TLR addressed many of the issues, it introduced a host of its own and remained a fairly niche type. The TLR survived in fashion photography long after the SLR was perfected, in part because it preserved eye contact between model and photographer but also the lower viewpoint is often desireable.

TLRs in the LICM collection are listed here in date order, starting with the oldest.


Thumbnail CameraFranke & Heidecke, Rolleiflex "Old Standard", TLR roll film camera c1935
Thumbnail CameraSeagull 4, Twin Lens reflex (TLR) 6x6cm roll film camera, c1950s
Thumbnail CameraRicoh, Ricohflex Million, 120 roll film TLR, c1957
Thumbnail CameraFranke & Heidecke, Rolleiflex 3.5F, TLR roll film camera 1960-81
Thumbnail CameraHaking, Halina AI, 120 roll film TLR camera, c1960
Thumbnail Camera

Yashica 44A 127 TLR roll film camera, c1960

Yashica produced a line of delightful TLRs producing 44mm square images on 127 roll film.

Thumbnail Camera

Gomz Sputnik 120 roll film, Stereo twin lens reflex, c1960s

Technically a Triple Lens Reflex, but the operation is the same.

Thumbnail CameraLomo, Lubitel 166B 120 roll film camera, c1981

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