I have long had a passion for twin lens cameras. Dad let me use his Yashica Mat 124g when I was 13 or 14 years old. He even guided me in the darkroom for developing the 120 negatives. It was the beginning of my medium format shooting and darkroom experiences.
I used my Pentax MX 35mm through high school and college and picked up the Yashica Mat again in the late 80s. There was just something about the twin lens camera that inspired me…the classic ground glass viewing, the large size of the negatives, or maybe just the square format. It was always fun to get the twin lens out for a day of shooting.
“Dilapidated Barn” c. 1988 shot with Dad’s Yashica Mat 124g
Well, Dad had a habit of selling his gear at camera shows in exchange for other stuff, so the Yashica went to a new home. I expressed that I missed the tlr, so he said I could use his Chinese Pearl River version. I took it home and put a few rolls through it, then put it away as the appeal of electronic wizardry snuck into my brain. As the 90s went into the new millennium, I went to digital cameras…until last year (2009) when I dove right back into film photography again. I pulled that Pearl River out of the box of my stored camera collection. The magic was back in my hands…though this was a very lowly version of a tlr, it was a pleasure to use and produced lovely images. This was also the first time in my photographic history that I became comfortable not using a handheld meter and using “the meter in my head.”
Pearl River 4-s Twin Lens Reflex Camera
I made another trip to Virginia recently and Dad “loaned” me yet another tlr…this time a legendary Rolleiflex! I was thrilled to finally get my hands on such a renowned camera. It is one of the earlier Automat models from just after WWII with the Xenar f3.5 lens. Even though it’s not one of the uber expensive 50s or 60s versions, it’s still wonderful. I have shot a couple of rolls in it and the German engineering is truly awe inspiring…especially for its age! I am looking forward to many more years with this vintage beauty.
“Boca Grande Light III” shot with Rolleiflex Automat