Made in Japan in the ’70s, the Yashica MAT-124G camera uses 120 or 220 film. The stylish model is a hand crank camera with an F3.5 lens, and includes a special viewfinder for sports shots. Created for taking action photos, The Yashica offers two modes: 12-exposure or 24-exposure. The MAT-124G was a popular budget camera in its day, and the well-built camera includes shutter speeds up to 1/500 and a self-timer.
Built in the ’70s to compete with Rollei cameras, the Japanese Mamiya C330 camera includes interchangeable lenses, a feature that not all TLR cameras have, and photographers can attach different viewfinders for a customized experience. The camera uses either 120 or 220 film, and uses a winding crank. The bellows pull out for intimate portraits, and there are two different shutter release buttons. The heavy camera works well for tripod use.
|3||Rolleicord II Type 3|
The German company that paved the way for TLR cameras created the Rolleicord II Type 3 in 1938. The camera has a Carl Zeiss F3.5 lens, and a mirror used for eye-level photography. The Rolleicord features a bayonet lens hood and speeds from 1 to 1/100. The Rolleicord focuses swiftly for crisp pictures, and has a flip-up hood containing the viewfinder. A matching case made of leather complements the camera.
|4||Baby Rolleiflex 4×4 K1|
Made in the ’30s, the Baby Rolleiflex 4×4 K1 camera is a compact version of the original Rolleiflex camera. The Baby Rolleiflex uses 127 film, and the TLR camera has an exposed shutter design. The camera is more of a collectors’ item than a usable camera due to the lack of 127 film availability. The camera uses the shutter dial to control the speed of the shutter, and the side crank switches to the next shot when turned.
|5||Ansco Automatic Reflex|
Another camera made to go up against the popular Rollei, the Ansco Automatic Reflex TLR camera is an American-made camera with a classic design created in the 1940s. The Ansco camera’s claim to fame was its user-friendly design. The camera offers multiple controls for focusing, and users can advance film after each shot. The long, F3.5 lens is unique, and the stylish camera reaches speeds of 1/400.
Made in New York in the 1950s, the Graflex 22 TLR camera uses 120 film. The Graflex camera has knobs for focusing and winding film, and a convenient tab for shutter release. The camera has a sports viewfinder for eye-level photography, and shutter speeds from 1/10 to 1/200. Built-in synchronization helps users shoot with the correct type of flash, and the camera is a quality yet basic TLR camera.
Available with three unique shutter styles and several lens options, the Reflekta II uses 120 film to take color or black and white photos. Manufactured in Germany in the ’50s, the camera includes a feature to prevent photographers from shooting double exposures. The camera has a viewfinder on the top and a magnifying glass for focusing purposes.
Beloved Japanese camera brand Minolta came out with the Autocord in the ’50s. The lightweight Autocord camera includes a F3.5 lens, and the durable camera offers superior features, such as high shutter speeds of up to 1/500 and an included light meter in some models. The TLR camera has an easy-to-use lever for focusing, and two shutter springs.
How To Buy
Whether you have a penchant for collecting antique cameras or you are a photographer who loves to experiment with them, find high-quality vintage TLR cameras on eBay. Search for a specific camera by keywords, such as the “Reflekta II,” or type in “TLR cameras” to browse a wider selection. Purchase cameras from sellers with excellent feedback. Vintage cameras paved the way for today’s high tech picture takers. However, there is joy in using old cameras to capture today’s precious moments. The quality of many TLR cameras still holds up well, and provides a unique feel to photos that is unmatched by digital cameras.
This is how the focus mechanism look like
If your focus knob broke, perhaps you can try this method:
Some tips on possible quick-fix for the focus level stuck / jam problem
If you want to loosen up the focus, you can:
1) Open the back. Maybe remove one of the door hinges to remove the back completley.
2) See that black cup around the lens? It simply presses in to place. Insert two fingers, spread apart, and twist. It should release after a few tries. Lift out.
3) See that large brass piece? On its outer side, it is threaded. It is this part that moves in and out as you focus, moving the lens panel with it.
4) Well, you can’t really see the threads, but if you can drip Naphtha at the joint between the body and the brass piece, do it. An eyedropper, syrige, or draftsman’ inking pen. Lightly, let it sit, a bit more, etc. Give it a few hours. The naphtha should be able to wick in and start loosening the grease.
5) Be patient, try not to flood it. Small applications over time will be safer for other mechanisms.
6) When (if?) it loosens up, exercise it. Then drip just a few drops of light oil into the same area from the back when the focus is set to infinity (brass block pulled back into the body). The basic idea is to dissolve the old grease in the fresh oil.
I did this with my first Autocord and it still works well, 6 months later. Since then I have completely disassembled the mechanism for cleaning on other Autocords.
Also, you’ll see two screws holding the focus scale in place, one on each side of the camera. Remove these, remove the focus scale, and you’ll have a much better hold on what remains of the focus lever. Might even be able to scab something on, superglue a block or such. With the scale out of the way, it’ll be clearer what the options are. You’ll also get a peek at the same focus mechanism and brass block. Another place to attack the old grease.
A third place to attack the old grease is from inside the viewing lens chamber. Remove the hood (4 small screws) and you’ll get another peek at the brass block.
Both of these places, be careful not to flood the camera with oil or solvent. Light, precise applications.
Great lenses, great design. I think only a Planar 2.8 will get me away from the Autocord and have me go back to a focus knob rather than the lever on the Autocord.”