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Friday, 20 March 2015


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Years ago, I bought a Rolleiflex 3.5f from someone whose father had bought it new and handed it down, but the guy I bought it from never used it. I offered a moderate price, because I planned to immediately send it out to Marflex in NJ for service. That pretty much doubled the price. A few years later, I added a new focus screen from Bill Maxwell. It's a beautiful/usable camera and I loved using it. Always wanted to get a prism finder for it, but good ones continue to be expensive. I'd enjoy using it today, if only it didn't involve film.

Love the time-lapse video...

...I had a Yashica 124G, mad I sold it (mad I traded my Rolleiflex too), I think you could buy them all day long from the NYC photoshops for $99.00 in the 80's; but have to say, I thought the lens was top notch. Before I got into studio/image management, I was still using a picture in my portfolio shot with the Yashica...

My 'go-to' camera for twin-lens work was the late, great, Minolta Autocord! At one time I had 5 of them (again, wish I still had them), I DO have one left. All their lenses were nice, quality-wise people used to say they were somewhere between the Rolleicord and -flex, but I thought they were better than the 'cord.

In the 90's it was pretty easy to find decent working examples floating around in the mid-west for 75.00-100.00 a pop, but since there were actually a lot of wedding photographers using them, a lot were pretty beat.

Like I said, all the lenses were pretty good, they were rated more for the type of shutter they used; I think they went through 3 or 4 manufacturers, and some were better than others.

While 'correct' Rolleiflex usage sort of lets you 'juggle' the camera between your two hands, with each hand being responsible for some settings, the Minolta was the best, as you could cradle it with one hand, and do everything from focusing, setting shutter speeds and f/stops, releasing the shutter, and winding, with the other...perfect.

Don't feel bad Mike. Everyone's world is narrow even those who try to broaden their world are narrow compared to what's out there.

I got a Yashica Mat-124 G about 6-7 years ago from a seller who obviously didn’t know the trick for inspecting the taking lens with a flashlight. It turned out to be gunked up pretty bad, so I sent it off to Mark. He put a brand new taking lens in it and did a CLA for a very reasonable price and quick turn around. But, I never took to the viewfinder or the ergonomics after using an SLR for so long. It drove me nuts. Eventually I sold it to help fund my return to digital. I’ve often regretted that sale, although I got almost twice what I paid for it.

1- Who's Tony al Russa??
2- I've never been a twin lens fan. I have always preferred the SLR for my type of shooting, which includes close up and macro photography. The TLR just doesn't work for that. Square format? Cropping a 6x7 to 6x6 isn't that hard. Although I have gone digital, I still occasionally use my Pentax 67, which has both waist level and eye level finders. Its the best for that kind of work, and the digital LCD on the back of my Nikons just doesn't do as well. Now they have finally come out with the D750, with tilting LCD. Unfortunaltely I don't have the spare cash for another camera, so the 67 will still get some use.

You're bringing back memories on two levels. My first serious camera was a Mat 124. Even though I was a total beginner it made a few good pictures for me.

Back in my days as newspaper editor I assigned a writer a do do a short story on some sort of arts award - don't remember now what sort. He handed in a story at least three times as long as I had room for. When I griped at him, he said: "You didn't give me enough time. It takes longer to write short."


Too fast - couldn't follow (re Mark Hama video)

I enjoy long posts, by the way. Short ones seem to be just quick offhand comments. Long ones, someone took some time, maybe there's a nugget in there to learn from.

Where does a Yashica D fit into this firmament? I have one, but it seems the mat-124G gets all of the attention.

Years ago I bought a cheap, used Yashica Mat to play with (my Mac keeps auto-correcting "Yashica" to "Yeshiva"!) and discovered how much fun it is to frame through a big ground-glass viewfinder. It's nothing like looking through an SLR or at an LCD, but it's wonderful -- it's almost like seeing a little, bright photograph.

My daughter shoots only film (including 16mm movie film!), and I gave her my Yashica a couple years ago, but we discovered that it's got a front-focus issue, so we moved up to a Minolta Autocord (Model I circa 1965) with the wonderful Rokkor lens. She's doing amazing work with the thing. We have the negatives scanned and then print them big here in the home studio.

BTW, I'm surprised you didn't use the Blaise Pascal quote, "I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time," but perhaps discretion is the better part of valor. Maybe the quote has been overused.

Jeez, that Mark guy is fast!
My best high school buddy shot a Rolleiflex. In the mid eighties when I did some part-time work in a camera shop, I picked up a Yashicamat due to frustration with 35mm format. But I couldn't love it, even though i do like square format a lot. I found it difficult to use. Found my love with a Fuji GSW690II. Still have that.

Mike wrote, " [ ... ]the longer the comment [ ... ], the less likely [it will be read].)


I often think aop,tl;dr. All one paragraph, too long, didn't read. Long posts that are not separated into paragraphs often contain faulty reasoning, as the author obviously hasn't taken enough trouble to make their point clear.

It's a bit like those people who dump the whole contents of their camera memory cards on to the net, where if they can't be bothered to edit, I can't be bothered to look.

...best laid schemes... not plans.

[It's most often translated as "plans," cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_Laid_Plans --Mike]

Dear Mike,

tldr is so much better in latin.

courtesy of Liza Furr:

"Too long, didn't read: longior, non legi
or if it was *really* long: longissimus, non legi

And longus, the base form of longior and longissimus, also means "tedious." :-D"

pax / Ctein

I too learned on a Yashicamat about 1970. It was all I could afford ($40 used) and I had read a book by Andreas Feininger on photography in which he recommended starting off with a TLR because with only 12 shots per comparatively expensive roll, one developed shot discipline. To this day, I probably have a higher hit rate than many thanks to this advice. I've since gone through all of the film and digital cameras that I lusted after (except medium format digital--there are limits to GAS) and I still have a soft spot for medium format film.

I used a Yashica D a little bit in highschool (it belonged to the school), and then acquired a Yashicamat 124G of my own. Mine came used from a new local wedding photographer (still working out of his home) who had been shooting with two Yashicamats, and moved to Hasselblads. I couldn't possibly afford the Hasselblad, but I could afford the used Yashica, and it got me into medium format. (This would be around 1972 I think, my senior year.) Grain was always the limiting factor in my enlargements, and the bigger negative helped a lot, particularly for landscape and architectural shots (I sold a number of campus shots from the Yashicamat to the alumni publications office).

35mm was always my real home, though, and I always talked myself out of buying Hasselblads and Mamiya RBs and so forth. (The 6x7 medium formats were the ones that really tempted me, and part of me things I should have done it. Who knows what would have happened? But shooting journalism-style, mostly in low light, is most of what I did.)

Don't remember where my Yashicamat actually ended up in the end.

I have a Rolleiflex 3.5E, bought a few years back at a used camera fair, which I love but don't use nearly as much as I should. Like many camera-fair purchases, this 'Flex was in dire need of a CLA when I got it -- luckily a local technician was able to re-align the focusing screen and really make it sing (all bets are off if the focusing screen is too dim or out of alignment). Some of my favourite images have come from that camera.

In the past I also have owned a Yashicamat 124, which I sold to a colleague (a beautiful camera); a Mamiya C220 (nice but too cumbersome for practical use IMO); and my first TLR, a Lubitel 2 (Russian for "amateur" -- which aptly descibes the build quality).

My fear with the Rolleiflex, and TLRs in general, is that the cameras themselves will outlast those qualified to service them.

tl;dr and tl;r reminds of a wonderful quote my Mark Twain:

"If I had more time, I'd write you a shorter letter."

I still have a Rolleiflex 2.8. One of my great loves. I do not use it, or film any more, sigh. But it is a beautiful object and I love to see it on the shelf. Always makes me want to but a brick of Tri-x and go to work. Now I use my Olympus E-M5 with the format set to 1:1 nd the rear screen pulled out so I look down at it. The shape and the perspective are close enough to leave the Tri-x in the store.

I have a Rolleiflex Automat sitting on my shelf (need to find someone to CLA the shutter); it had belonged to my grandfather, along with the Honeywell Pentax that sits on another shelf. (The Kodak Signet 35 is still on a shelf in my parents' house.)

Hm. Time to put the K-3 away and shoot some film again?

I couldn't resist and typed 'TLR' on Wikipedia's search engine. I found out the disambiguation page also retrieves 'Tasteful Licks Records.' A clumsy name at best, but I've perused through their catalogue, just out of curiosity.
Y' know what? If it weren't for today's TOP entry, I'd have never discovered an act named Mono/Poly, which records for TLR (the record label, not the camera.) Probably not suitable for everyone's tastes, but I like their music a lot.
And please don't give up on film! Some of us like to read about our favourite medium.

"[It's most often translated as "plans," cf. {url}--Mike]"

What that page actually says is '"To a Mouse", a poem by Robert Burns, which is often misquoted as "The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry"' [emphasis mine]

The original seems to me perfectly understandable, and better conveys Burns' intent.

"The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley"

Why would 'scheme', a perfectly good, English word, in current usage, need to be "translated" into a different English word? The two have perhaps subtle, but real, differences in meaning and implication.

Why would the second line be changed not only to make the words clearer in contemporary English, but changed in word order? Would "Go oft awry" not be better? The is poetry, not prose, and the two orders don't scan the same.

And yes, there's a Rolleicord (IVb?) around here somewhere, along with the 35 mm back, which is was a pretty silly idea, even back then, but is beautifully made and did work.

["Gang aft agley" seems like perfectly clear English to you? I should rest my case there...

"Scheme" now has the sense of an underhanded intrigue or plot, whereas "plan" means to devise a method of procedure in advance. In any case I think it's perfectly appropriate the reference the common and more familiar American translation, "The best laid plans of mice and me oft go awry," for purposes of making a joke. --Mike]

Who is Tony la Russo?? Never heard of him.
TLR stands for only a camera to me.
I've gone full circle, selling my DSLR gear and now using medium format film in spite of the inconvenience and lack of instant gratification. I simply like the act of using my Rolleiflex or Rolleicord and prefer the image quality from film.

Seems that film is not entirely dead. Maybe 35mm is on life support.
One has only to look at current prices paid for TLR cameras. Prices are way up in the last few years so that the Japanese [Rollei copy] TLRs are selling for 2 or 3 times what they cost new.
I have heard that Ilford's sales of film have increased a tad, mostly 120 medium format.

Maybe I'll get a few more years with 120 film before being forced to go digital. Then TLR can stand for whatever they want it to .

Exactly 13 months ago I got an Olympus EM5 (new baby and new camera on the same month!). Not because of the retro looks, but because it was small, light and tough.

I had never used an EVF before, and the retro nostalgia kicked in the moment I turned it on.

With this little thing I can take square pictures and see square pictures as I take them!

I have a Mamiya 330, but somewhat I get the same feeling shooting digital.

"I have made this [letter] longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter." - Blaise Pascal, Lettres Provinciales

Which also brings to mind:

"If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought" - Dennis Roth

Loved the time-lapse video too.

Hey! Tony La Russa was our St. Louis Cardinals manager for 15 years. Before that he managed in Chicago and Oakland. Here's to BOTH TLRs.

I have a Yashicamat and an Autocord and like Ken I prefer the Minolta. But I'm not surprised by your loan experience Mike. TLRs are brutes of things to use. They handle like the bricks they resemble. Everything about them is difficult, only to be forgiven when the negatives come back.

Wait, is Malcom saying your paraphrase is wrong?


I started in MF on Yashica 635, poor man's version of the much more expensive Mat without a meter and cheaper lens. I suppose TLR is nowadays quite rare special term. I wonder what SLR means to most people. That should be higher than 16th on the list.

All this TLR talk reminds me of my long lost Yashica A. It was the bottom of the Yashica checking order and I bought it used for $15 in '66 and was my first good camera. You haven't lived until you have tried panning shots on the main straight at Sebring with a TLR! I actually made enough money with that camera to buy my first full sized tripod. I guess it was what they call a gateway drug, who knew.

I've used Mark Hama recently for my Ricoh 519 and he's made me trigger-happy with the results from the first roll back. Thought I had burned it out with testing it outside in the snow mostly because it was 400 asa and the camera only stops down to f16/500s, but the shots were good and sharp! Have to send him my first camera, a Yashica D they offered to all freshman back at art school. Used TLR's with good reversal film last year out West, and the scans by Dwaynes were beautiful! Long live TLRs...
-Bob G.

For Michael Houghton: I bought a Yashica TLR a couple years ago and found the shutter stuck. Back to the store. The owner then kept on releasing the shutter, re-cocking, releasing again until the shutter opened. Then he repeated on all the other speeds. You might want to try this before sending it in for repair. You'll probably have to do this quite a few times before the shutter frees up. This reminds me I have to exercise the shutter on my Yashicamat, which I try to do every 3 months.

If you think the TLR acronym is overloaded (used for many things), take a look at the following:
While this document is now cancelled, the massive use of acronyms continues on in the government (ANY government). And of course, some have non-government uses as well. If you wish to look at it, it is probably downloadable from one of the mil spec databases. Personally, I have no wish to look at it after over 50 years of having to deal with that $%^*^(%. At least I think I can say that I never added any new meanings to any acronym.

Perhaps sometimes "tl; dr" really means "too lazy; didn't read". Taken to it's logical extreme, in the future I see product liability suits, medical malpractice suits,etc., where the defense is simply "tb; dk" - "too bad; didn't know".

Mark Hama! Perhaps the only man alive who can make a 60 year old Canon shutter go off like a Anschutz match rifle. You can't miss.

Walking down a narrow, crowded, street in a small Cornwall tourist trap one summer when a passer by spotted my Mamiya C330 TLR and exclaimed in a loud, thespian, voice "Ah, a real camera!".

He disappeared into the crowd before I could even lift my head from the viewing screen to see who it was.

Had me wondering if the experience had been real or if I was suffering from a case of random TLR - Thesp Loud Response.

Having giving the C330 away, the pic of the Rolleiflex is very much a case for me of TLR - TLR Longtime Return.

Had a 124 G. Used it for weddings. Tri x and D76 ISTR was the order of the day

Prior to that I used a loaned Zeiss Super Ikonta folding camera. 120 film and 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 (6 x 9) negatives. I much preferred the 6 x 9 shape. Never really took to the 6 x 6 .

According to a letter, in this week's Times Literary Supplement, it was Pascal who wrote "I have only made this letter etc.."

Apparently, "It's from the penultimate paragraph of the sixteenth of the Lettres provinciales."

Times Literary Supplement: TLS. And HAL was only one letter off IBM.

A friend just tried to give me his Mat 124G, it appears to be working correctly including the meter. He thought because of digital it was worth virtually nothing. I told him I'll sell it for him at the next photo show I go to. I think he will be in for a surprise. I've still got to run a roll through it to check frameing, focus and middle shutter speeds.

I used a Yashicamat in a photography class many years ago and your story reminded me how much I enjoyed looking down at the viewfinder and seeing the image framed. If you're not planning on using the camera and would like to convert to some cash let me know, I live here in Waukesha so it would be a simple transaction. Thanks.

Skinny jeans came and went, so too will the demand for TLR's.... $9000.00 for a Rolleiflex FX2.8 REALLY?! I still have the Yashica MAT-EM manual from the camera my father passed down to me in the early 70's, that's all I need.

Mine is from Mark through ebay I think about 1 decade ago. Wow! That is a long time. But that is to get back to TLR after wondering to "better" 6x6 and 645 camera from one. May have to go to the dark room far far away to get it back to do a bit.

Yes, but can he do it blindfolded?

Just read this article this morning, which I mention because I was looking through our camera graveyard on Saturday. It turns out that I have a Bolsey Model C TLR and have no real idea where it came from. Perhaps I should shoot with it some time.

Anyway, it was in the same general area as the Fujica, Canon FD-mount body, the Pentax M42-mount Spotmatic, and the Pentax K-mount P30T. I haven't shot film since the '90s.

Now I'm thinking that I need an m4/3 camera just to use all those lenses. But perhaps I'm using the word "need" incorrectly. 8-)

I wanted to comment about Mark Hama and the scarcity of true craftsmen still repairing cameras. I still shoot film, primarily 35mm with a 1963 Leica M2, but was given a ratty old Yashica Mat that has the West German Lumaxar lenses. It even lacked the Yashica Mat badge when I received it. I sent it off to Mark Hama and waited. About a month into the repair he called to say the camera was finished, but he was still trying to find a badge -- which I hadn't requested. He said he had lost several recent ebay auctions, but was confident that he would win soon. He won and emailed to ask that we split the cost of his new parts camera from which my badge came. I happily did so and when the camera was returned to me, included in the package was an entire bag of the parts he had removed and replaced. What a wonderful guy. https://flic.kr/p/aNxWnR

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