The death of Micheal Jackson spawned my interests to listen his songs again. The fall of Rolleiflex generates my interest in TLR cameras.
TLR cameras are the pinnacle of Rolleiflex design. It was equivalent to today's compact digital camera back in the '60s when Austin Power is more famous than James Bond. The later is a joke. A twin-lens reflex camera (TLR) is a type of camera with two objective lenses of the same focal length. One of the lenses is the photographic objective (the lens that takes the picture), while the other is used for the waist-level viewfinder system. In addition to the objective, the viewfinder consists of a 45-degree mirror (the reason for the word reflex in the name), a matte focusing screen at the top of the camera, and a pop-up hood surrounding it. The two objectives are connected, so that the focus shown on the focusing screen will be exactly the same as on the film… [Read more in Wiki] Arm with German Schneider Optics prime lenses, these babies can produce stunning images. Many journalists use TLR to capture photos prior SLR become popular. As such, many '60s famous photographs are products of TLR.
Fixed prime and running on 120 films soon become disadvantages when SLR was introduced to the market. These babies slowly faded away from the public and became collectors' item.
The last collectors' edition before Rolleiflex went out of production comprises a Rolleiflex 4.0 FW with a Schneider Super Angulon 4,0/50 mm HFT, a Rolleiflex 2.8 FX with a Zeiss Planar 2,8/80 mm HFT and a Rolleiflex 4.0 FT with a Schneider Tele-Xenar 4,0/135 mm HFT, all gilded in 14-carat gold boxed in an exclusive presentation box, can be yours at 29,500 euros!
Famous miniature camera maker, Minox, also produces a 5MP digital Rolleiflex, more of a collectors' toy than practical use considering its keychain size, powered by one CR2 battery and miniSD card. The sensor is actually a 3MP CMOS, interpolated to 5MP images.
China camera maker, Seagull still produces TLR camera. Seagull 4A-109 is priced at ~RM2200. You can order it from Chiif Camera. It runs on sacred 120 film, if you know or able to find shops to process them.
There are tons of used Rolleiflex available in eBay. But if you want something new, really cheap and practical, Blackbird, Fly TLR is the best camera you can get a taste of TLR. Priced at ~RM450, comes in six different colors. Made entirely of plastic, down to the lens. Because the lens is made of plastic, this camera is actually a lomo camera. Best of all, it works on cheaper and easier to get 35mm film. It can take pictures in standard 35mm film format (24×36) or square format (24×24) or even larger square with side sprocket holes visible on photos (36×36) with the use of different mask. See photo samples at lomography gallery. For Malaysians, try visiting an art bookstore at the top floor of BB Plaza, Kuala Lumpur. Alternatively you can order from overseas.
Lens: f7 33mm
Shutter speed: 1/125s
Aperture: f7 (cloudy) f11 (sunny)
Focus: Visual distance estimated measurement (0.8 / 1.5 / 2/ 2.5 / 3 /4 / 5/ 10 / infinity)
Film: 35mm film
The once de facto medium format camera among professional photographer has fallen hard since the dawn of DSLR. Following the rise of DSLR we saw the fall of Bronica, Contax and Pentax. The once popular Rolleiflex has changed hands numerous time and finally declared end of production by Franke & Heidecke last week. The insolvent of Franke & Heidecke nearly bring down the large format camera giant Sinar. When Hy6 was first introduced two years ago, it was a revolution and seen as a possible resurrection of medium format camara. However market proofs it wrong, with a price tag of USD35,000, body only. I wouldn't say DSLR can produce better or equivalent image quality than medium format couple with digital backs. However it was the public who can accept the quality and convenience, no less the affordability price tag of DSLR that puts medium format to the graves.
What's left in the market is Hasselblad and Mamiya. Mamiya no longer belongs to its founder and marketing strategy has changed to lower megapixels and more affordable digital backs while Hasselblad prefer to classify their products as largest sensor DSLR (non-changeable digital back medium format camera). As DSLR racing to higher megapixels, rumors 35MP by next year, how long will medium format stands before entering the history book forever?