For anyone who wishes to start using film cameras, there could be no better idea than to begin with a twin lens reflex medium format camera (tlr from now on!).
There are many reasons for picking one of these cameras rather than the normal 35mm range. Firstly, using a tlr will teach you to slow down before pressing that all-important silver shutter button!
In this day and age, we are more than used to having virtually everything automated, be it washing our dishes, clothes or even the medium you are reading this on, your humble laptop or PC. And because of this automation, in my view, we are all falling behind in terms of using our brains (cue that very famous song by Zager & Evans of the 70s….”In the year 2525 — your arms hangin’ limp at your sides, your legs got nothin’ to do, some machines’ doin’ that for you….”).
So getting back to cameras, a tlr brings us right back to basics, showing us how to focus properly, how a photo can be composed so that it looks fantastic when it’s printed, what depth of field is, how parallax error can be corrected and much, much more….all or most of which we’ve forgotten!
And last of all, the size of the negative from a tlr…an absolutely whopping 6x6cm, which is so large, you can even make a contact print out if it, without the need for an enlarger as in the case of 35mm negatives, and it will still be good enough for your album.
This last reason is the main point why untold number of professionals still insist on using a 6x6cm camera, because of the size of the negative and it’s inherent ability to capture so much detail.
So, without further ado, here’s a list, by no means comprehensive, but a list nonetheless, of the most popular tlrs available today, and their qualities. I hope this helps you in making your decision:
Yashica Mat — standard tlr, very good quality, relatively cheap
Yashica 635 — as above, but can be used with 35mm film as well
Mamiya C330 – professional tlr; huge range of accessories
Zeiss Ikoflex — one of the very earliest tlrs; very good lenses
Seagull — a chinese made tlr; cheap, good for beginners
Microcord — beginner’s tlr; cheap, oldish, care reqd when buying
Rolleiflex — top quality professional tlrs; world beating lenses
Rolleicord — cheaper than the above, but good value
Lubitel — Russian made tlr; good for beginners
Halina — flimsy, poor quality, not recommended
Ricoh — not recommended
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