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photo:tlr

twin lens reflex film cameras

Why buy a TLR in a digital age?

  • apart from being perhaps a collectors item and a prop for photography, there are not many good reasons to buy a TLR instead of a digital SLR, but you may consider one if you don't already own a medium format outfit AND:
    • you wish to try infrared film photography:
      • medium format film allows larger enlargements than 35mm film
      • unfortunately, Kodak HIE IR film is not available in medium format and the main film available, the Rollei really needs an opaque IR filter (eg. Hoya R72) to give good IR effect. This means a SLR camera is blinded when the filter is on - you cannot see the image to compose and focus so this must be done before applying the filter.  This is not the case with TLR or rangefinder cameras, but you may have trouble finding a IR filter to fit the bayonet mount TLRs such as Rollei & Yashica.
      • avoid racking bellows out too much as it may leak IR light onto the film.
      • in general, you need to rack out the bellows by an extra 1/100th of the focal length of the lens for IR focus, thus:
        • for a 55mm lens, you only need to change it 0.5mm
        • for a 250mm lens, you change it 2.5mm
      • alternatively, you can make your own estimations on focus adjustments for IR, basing this on a 6×6 SLR lens, for example when using a 105mm lens:
        • subject at infinity, set focus to about 25m
        • subject at 15m, set focus to 10m
        • subject at 8m, set focus to about 6-7m
        • subject at 5m, set focus to about 4.5m
        • as an approximation, rotating the focus knob by 45deg only so lens moves out after you have subject focused, will probably be sufficient for IR focus, but to be safe, also use an aperture of f/8 or smaller which should cover any error.
      • if you already own a medium format SLR, you are probably better off putting up with the inconvenience of attaching filters for each shot than spending your money on a TLR even though they are quite cheap, you still have to carry it around, and you can't pre-load backs with IR film for field trips - you need to find a dark spot to change your film.
    • you wish to experiment with medium format films:
      • utilising their higher dynamic range (B&W films) or grain patterns
    • you wish to take very long exposures (hours) which is not possible with digitals or battery-dependent cameras:
      • wide field astrophotography to show star trails around the celestial poles in very dark rural sites.
    • you cannot afford a full frame digital and want very shallow depth of field:
      • eg. portraiture
    • you really need extended daylight fill-in flash capability:
      • as with medium format SLR's and rangefinders, X-sync to 1/500th sec effectively gives your flash a lot more reach for daylight fill-in, so it may have a role for group photos (eg. at weddings or swimwear shoots) - most other cameras with a reasonably powerful flash should manage subject distances of up to 3m, and beware - most modern flashes have flash durations a full power of 1/200thsec, so using 1/500thsec will give you less flash output, nullifying your X-sync advantage.
    • you just want to be different.
  • in general, there are better cameras for most forms of photography and a TLR is a compromise:
    • weddings - the TLR used to be a great wedding camera as it gives great quality enlargements and has a quiet shutter (although noisy winder) and X-sync to 1/500th sec for fill-in flash, but people now are not so patient to put up with the photographer painstakingly setting composition, focus, winding film to cock the shutter, adjusting exposure settings using a hand held light meter and then having to change films every 12 or 24 shots.
    • landscapes - the lack of ability to visualise polariser and gradient filters along with higher lens flare make the TLR not as suitable as a SLR, and they are heavy to carry (1-1.6kg)
    • architecture - no perspective control so limited functionality
    • street photography - too big, heavy and difficult to use, there are better cameras - small rangefinders or digitals with waist level live LCDs such as Olympus C8080 or E330.
    • action - the TLR is not a very good action camera even if you do get used to the back to front viewfinder image, use a fast AF digital SLR with fast burst rates and low noise at high ISO, eg. high end Canon.
    • macrophotography - parallax error makes life tough - use a digital SLR with live preview such as Olympus E410/510/330.
    • pets and children on the floor - if they didn't move, a TLR might be great if you sort out parallax error, but as they do move, a digital SLR with AF and waist level live LCD is much better - eg. Olympus E330 or Olympus E3

Introduction:

  • a TLR (twin lens reflex) means that it has two lenses, a lower lens that actually takes the picture and an upper lens that is only used for viewing and composing. 
  • TLR advantages:
    • compared with MF SLRs, low weight (although Mamiya C330 is heaviest) and very quiet operation. 
    • Since there is no moving mirror, hand-held images are often sharper than if a medium format SLR (single lens reflex) was used.
    • Many wedding photographers have used these cameras because you can still look through the finder and see someone blink at the moment of exposure.
    • can still compose and focus with opaque infrared filters (if you can find one to fit the lens)
  • TLR disadvantages:
    • parallax error:
      • due to using one lens to compose and a different lens ~50mm higher to take the photograph.
      • In normal use, this isn't a big problem with full length portraits or landscapes. 
      • starts to be a problem for head & shoulder portraits
      • Even for closeup work, some clever paramenders and other devices help reduce if not eliminate parallax effects.
    • The view you see on the ground glass of the waist-level finder is reversed in left-right orientation. This may seem like something that could be awkward, but in actual usage the eye, hand and mind quickly adapt, and handling the camera properly soon becomes second nature.
    • viewing lenses usually don't have stop down apertures thus depth of field cannot be visualised
    • cannot visualise ascertain the polarising filter effect or gradient filter effect
    • viewing lens is often of lower quality and its aberrations may make accurate focusing only possible for the central areas - if your target subject does not fall in this region, you may need to move the camera until it is, focus then recompose.
    • no interchangeable backs
  • The major TLR brands include Rolleiflex, Mamiya, and Yashica. 
  • the Rollei was king - it was small, had a great lens and a wonderful precision feel, but very expensive.
  • Mamiya TLRs include some with unique interchangeable lenses and standards but were heavy.
  • The other TLRs are limited to their original lens, although telephoto and wide angle adapters are also available.
  • in addition to X-sync for electronic flash, most also have an M sync available for use with flashbulbs. If you use M sync with electronic flash, the flash fires before the shutter opens, and you get no flash adding light to your exposure. BE CAREFUL not to accidentally put in in M position!
  •  

Mamiya:

Yashica:

  • see also:
  • general notes about Yashica TLRs:
    • most use 120 film to give 12 exposures of 6×6 negatives
    • some (eg. the Mat 24) use only 220 film to give 24 exposures of 6×6
    • the 44 uses only 127 film to give 4×4 negatives
    • the Mat 124 and Mat 124G allows either 120 or 220 film
    • most (?all) use a 80mm f/3.5 taking lens with a Copal shutter 1-1/500th sec and Bulb with M-X sync. No filter thread but a Rollei bayonet 1 mount for Yashica filters, lens hood or auxiliary lenses;
    • most have a self-timer BUT you must use this ONLY when the XM lever is in the X position
    • the later models use a f/2.8 viewing lens for brighter focusing with a 3x viewing loupe built-in
    • auxiliary lenses available via a bayonet lens mount to give wide angle (58mm), telephoto (113mm),  macro 1 (40-65cm distance) or macro 2 (35-45cm distance).
    • The Yashicamat is basically a Rollei copy, with a few of the more expensive features left out, but the ergonometrics left in. Crank wind, combined film wind-shutter cock, Rollei bayonet 1 mount for filters;
  • 1949:
    • Yashima Seiki Company was formed in 1949 with an initial investment of just $566 and Yashica started business in Nagano, Japan making electric clock parts and branched into camera components.
  • 1953:
    • changed name to Yashima Optical Industry Company, Ltd.
    • released their first complete camera, the Yashimaflex, a 6x6cm twin lens reflex. Lenses were bought from the Tomioka Optical Works.
  • 1956:
    • Yashica LM TLR:
      • similar to the Yashica C but has a built-in uncoupled selenium light meter under the hinged nameplate.
      • Copal shutter 1-1/300th sec?
      • discontinued 1957;
  • 1957:
    • Yashica Inc. was formed in New York to market their products in USA.
    • Yashica Y-C TLR:
      • Copal MXB 1-300 shutter which must be cocked manually
      • disc. 1958;
    • Yashica 635:
      • came with an adapter kit to allow 35mm film to be used and a 35mm sports finder.
      • Copal MXV 1-500 shutter
      • disc. 1973
    • Yashica 44 TLR:
      • used 127 film
      • disc. 1958;
    • Yashica Y-D TLR:
      • entry level camera; shutter had to be manually charged;
      • disc. 1973;
    • the Yashica Mat range was released and proved hugely popular.
    • Yashica Y-Mat(O) TLR:
      • f/2.8 viewing lens and 80mm f/3.5 taking lens
      • shutter 1-1/500th sec plus Bulb; self-timer; M-X flash sync;
      • crank handle winder sets shutter, prevents double exposures & counts exposures automatically;
      • fresnel viewing screen with centre focusing spot;
      • disc. 1970;
    • Yashica Y-Mat(N) TLR:
      • disc. 1971;
  • 1958:
    • another name change to Yashica Company Ltd. with the acquisition of the Nicca Camera Company Ltd.
    • Yashica Y-A TLR:
      • Copal 25-300 shutter; f/3.5 viewing lens;
      • disc. 1969;
    • Yashica 44 LM TLR:
      • 127 film giving 4×4 negatives;
      • disc. 1962;
    • Yashica Mat-LM TLR:
      • disc. 1960;
  • 1959:
    • Yashica 44-A TLR:
      • disc. 1959;
    • Yashica YF:
      • discontinued
    • introduction of the Pentamatic 35mm SLR with its bayonet mount interchangeable lenses.
  • 1960-61:
    • Yashica acquired Zunow Optical Industry Co. Ltd. Zunow was known for its advanced SLR which was the first Japanese 35mm SLR with an auto diaphragm. It had an instant return mirror and interchangeable pentaprism or waist level finders.
  • 1964:
    • Yashica Mat-EM TLR:
      • disc. 1966;
    • Yashica Y-E TLR:
      • disc. 1966
  • 1965:
    • Yashica Y-24 TLR:
      • disc. 1967;
    • Yashica Electro-35 35mm SLR:
      • was the world’s first electronically controlled 35mm camera. It had a Yashinon-GX f/1.7 45mm lens. 14 Electro models were released up to 1973.
    • Yashica TL Super f/1.4 35mm SLR
    • Yashica TL Super f/1.7 35mm SLR
  • 1967:
    • Yashica Y-12:
      • disc. 1968;
  • 1968:
    • Yashica bought Tomioka, its lens supplier, which was by now one the largest and most reputable lens manufacturers in Japan, and renamed the company Tomioka Optical Co. Ltd.
    • Yashica TL 35mm SLR:
    • Yashica TL Electro-X 35mm SLR:
      • LED metering; metal shutter instead of cloth and to 1/1000th sec;
    • Yashica Mat 124 TLR:
      • pressure plate for 120/220 film slides pulls out and rotates between settings
      • prior to the Mat 124, there were two separate Mat models for 120 vs 220 film: YashicaMat 12 and YashicaMat 24;
      • disc. 1971;
  • 1969:
    • Yashica TL-E 35mm SLR:
  • 1970:
    • Yashica TL Electro-X ITS 35mm SLR:
      •  
    • Yashica Mat 124G:
      • G stood for gold plating on meter switch contacts to give better reliability
      • 80mm f/3.5 lens with Copal shutter to 1/500th sec and minimum aperture of f/32;
      • match needle metering;
      • pressure plate for 120/220 film slides between settings (pulls out and rotates on the Mat 124)
      • uses now-discontinued 1.3v mercury cells but can get adapters to use modern alkaline or silver oxide batteries;
      • 1100g;
      • minimum focus 1m;
      • ASA range 25-400;
      • perhaps the most popular Yashica TLR model as it was a good entry level model and the last;
      • disc. 1986;
  • 1972:
    • Yashica TL Electro 35mm SLR:
      • LED metering; cloth shutter to 1/500th sec;
    • Yashica Electro AX 35mm SLR:
      • LED metering; metal shutter to 1/1000th sec;
      • the last of the M42 screw mount Yashica 35mm SLRs?;
  • 1973:
    • ‘Top Secret Project 130’, a collaboration with Carl Zeiss to produce a new, professional 35mm SLR with an electronically-controlled shutter, bearing the Contax brand name. A new prestige line of Yashica / Contax lenses designed by Carl Zeiss were introduced for the camera, with a common C/Y bayonet mount allowing lens interchange between all 35mm Contax and Yashica SLR models - an innovation that was to prove very popular with camera buyers.
  • 1983:
    • Yashica merges with Kyocera which also made the newer Contax cameras from that date.
  • 2005:
    • Kyocera discontinues production of all Yashica, Contax and Kyocera branded film and digital cameras.

Rollei:

  • general notes on Rollei TLRs:
    • Rollei bayonet lens filters
    • automatic compensation for parallax by moving frames under the ground glass
    • Rolleicord - budget models
    • Rolleiflex - pro models

Seagull:

Minolta:

  • Autocord series:
    • not as commonly available as the other brands
    • well known for its sharp Rokkor f/3.5 75mm lens, the favourite model seems to be the Autocord.
    • uses Rollei bayonet-1 filters;
    • no split-image focusing screen but Spiratone made one
    • unique helicoid focusing system with IR marker
    • aperture and shutter controls are via sliders not the usual wheels.
    • double exposures
  • 1953:
    • Minoltacord:
      • employed helicoid focusing, which was different from lensboard extention focusing employed by Rollei-type TLR camera. It had advantages in manufacturing camera and also maintaining quality of it.
  • 1955:
    • Autocord MXS (model A) and MXV:
      • flatter film due to being loaded at the top and then gets bent AFTER photo taken which is different to all other TLRs.
      • weakest part is the focusing knob which may break.
      • Optipiper shutter to 1/400th sec - not as fast as the 1/500th sec on the later Citizen shutters and not readily repaired.
  • 1956:
    • Autocord MXS (model B) - DOF scale added.
  • 1957:
    • Autocord RA
    • Autocord L - adds selenium light meter & LVS exposure system to calculate settings; Citizen shutter;
  • 1958:
    • Autocord RB - as for original but Citizen shutter; prototype only;
    • Autocord - as for original but Citizen shutter;
  • 1962:
    • Autocord RG (models B & C)
  • 1965:
    • Autocord Standard -
    • Autocord I (or Standard) :
      • snap-up magnifier; self-timer;
    • Autocord CDS:
      • like the L but 15deg. CdS light meter instead of selenium;
  • 1966:
    • Autocord II:
      • 120 or 220 film;
      • quickly replaced by model III
    • Autocord CDS II:
      • Autocord II with CdS light meter; replaced by CDS III
    • Autocord III:
      • no need to reset film counter after 12th frame when using 220 film as was the case with Autocord II
    • Autocord CDS III:
      • as for III but CdS light meter;
photo/tlr.txt · Last modified: 2018/12/12 23:26 by gary1