The Joys of Shooting With a Rolleiflex TLR Camera

The TLR camera has long gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced by SLRs, but you can still find used TLRs for purchase, with Rolleiflex models generally being the most sought after. This fun video follows a street photographer as he shoots with a Rolleiflex 2.8F TLR camera.

Coming to you from Frederik Trovatten, this great video follows him as he shoots with his dream camera, the Rolleiflex 2.8F TLR. If you have not seen one before, a TLR (twin-lens reflex) camera is pretty unique. It features two lenses, one for rendering the image on film, and another for actually viewing the image you are taking, which is reflected upwards to a waist-level finder. If you have ever watched a movie set in the 1920s or 1930s, you might have seen one in usage. I have had the Model X f/3.5 version for a decade or so now, and it is a ton of fun to shoot with (mine features a 75mm f/3.5 taking lens and 75mm f/2.8 viewing lens and was made between 1949 and 1951). Trovatten's model is much nicer, typically going for about $2,500 on eBay. TLRs are a very fun and unique experience; check out the video above for more. 

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13 Comments

Adriano Brigante's picture

TLRs are the best. When a company decides to make a digital TLR, I might consider buying a digital camera. :)

My two TLR workhorses are the 1953' Rolleiflex and the 1970' Yashica Mat 124, but my favorite remains the 1932' Rolleiflex Old Standard. That thing is almost 90 years old but it works like it came out of the factory last week. The subtle clicks of the film advance lever is music to my ears. This camera is a marvel of German engineering. Not to mention the Zeiss lens, which is spectacular!

Deleted Account's picture

Have you repleced the ground glass?

Adriano Brigante's picture

No, it's the original one. It's not as bright as new ones, but it's still in perfect condition, so I keep it. :)

Christian Lainesse's picture

"When a company decides to make a digital TLR, I might consider buying a digital camera."

Just angle the back screen face up, perpendicular to the camera and look down? ;-)

But if a company made a digital camera (at a price mere mortals can afford) with a 6cmx6cm sensor, I would buy it too.

Adriano Brigante's picture

Haha! It wouldn't work for me. I want the shutter to be on the front, and the focusing on the side, etc. It's all part of the TLR experience ;)

Deleted Account's picture

Frederik: I need to go to YouTube right now to learn how to put a roll in this...
Me: Wut?

Frederik Trovatten's picture

You're right fam haha.. I always knew this camera was for me. But I bought it without knowing much about it and went with my gut feeling. You're right hehe.

Deleted Account's picture

That's quite the leap :P

Ziggy Stardust's picture

Blast from the past.
I used a Rolleiflex for portraits in the late 70s.

Kirk Darling's picture

A Yashicamat 124G TLR was my first money-making camera back in 1972. I recently bought another (a nostalgia purchase) on eBay for exactly the same amount of dollars I spent in 1972.

Sam David's picture

I restored my YashicaMat EM last winter as an isolation project. I am absolutely delighted with having to work hard to make a great image. From finding 120 film (bless Kodak for keeping TriX400 alive), to adjusting the aperture and speed to match what the ancient on-board light meter tells me, to remembering that the viewfinder image is reversed, to having to compose carefully because there is no way to evaluate what was just captured, to remembering to advance the film after every shot -- it's a whole old world. But the good images are terrific in terms of tone depth -- and I love doing it. I have found a wonderful film processor in Portland ME and then do my own scanning and printing.

Kirk Darling's picture

Sooo....you're not doing your own film processing and silver halide paper enlarging and wet processing? You're missing out on the /real/ fun.

Sam David's picture

My wife refuses to give up our bathroom!