I contradict myself. Previously, I blog about forbidding myself to buy more film cameras. Then, I promised myself I would only get a medium format film camera in September 2017 to celebrate one-year of film photography. Screw it. I broke my own promise: I bought a Rolleiflex Twin Lens Reflex (TLR).
However, I don’t feel sorry.
Upgrading to medium format is my film photography goal. Just that this goal happens 6 months earlier than expected.
Why TLR? No particular reason, TLR just feel classic.
Ok, if you insist: I am a fan of Vivian Maier‘s work.
Because it’s the best of TLR. Since I only want to own one TLR, I reckon I only want the best.
Before buying, I did a ton of researches. I have learnt my mistake of buying film cameras on impulse and have realised that they are totally not a wise investment (Rollei B35 & Contax TVS). For TLR, there are a few common brands. The cheapest, to the best of my knowledge, is Hai Ou (Seagull), you can get a mint condition at about SGD130. There is also brand like Konica? Whatever. The best bet is usually Yashica Mat 124G, Rolleicord and finally Rolleiflex.
It took me a few days to survey. I tried Rolleicord but didn’t like the complicated operation. Compared to Rolleicord, Rolleiflex and Yashica Mat 124G are so much simpler. Anyway, an acceptable condition Rolleicord costs about SGD600.
More about Rolleiflex
Yes, since I’ve mentioned Rolleiflex is the best of TLR, it is on the more expensive range. The most famous and wanted version is Rolleiflex 2.8F or 3.5F. A mint condition of 3.5F can cost over SGD1600, as for 2.8F, its value is at least SGD2000-3000. Well, if you can make do with a dusty and scratchy lens, you can get a 3.5F at SGD700+, which I think is not worth it. The price for the bad condition TLR is gonna drop further.
Besides the 2.8 and 3.5 aperture, there’s also the lens. Some people like Plannar, Xenotar or Xenar. So confusing. In the end, I got a Rolleiflex 2.8D with a Carl Zeiss Plannar lens. It’s without a light meter. So, I need to use the Sunny-16 rule or my phone’s light meter app. Since mine is a D version, it’s cheaper than the 3.5F even though it has a f2.8 aperture.
After camera comes the film. Small format camera uses 35mm film, which we all should know. A medium format camera uses 120mm. In Rolleiflex, the image is in 6x6cm, so one roll of 120mm film allows me to shoot 12 photos. That’s very little compared to 35mm’s 36 exposures, at similar price. One shot costs about SGD2!!!
Anyway, the TLR is so bulky and heavy, I don’t think I will use it everyday. But I will try to use it as often as I can to do ‘shutter gymnastic’.
Rolleiflex shooting experience
Finally, the experience of using TLR is very pleasant. One of the film experts actually advised me to try TLR the last. Why? He reasoned the image quality of TLR or generally medium format is so great to the extent that I will never touch my Nikon FM2 anymore.
Actually it is quite true. If only the TLR is small and convenient to bring around…
However, I really love the image quality of Rolleiflex. They are so sharp!
Previously, I have shot a few black-and-white film but the images are disappointing. In contrast, the quality of black-and-white on a Rolleiflex is so therapeutically nice. The shades are distinct and ‘contrasty’. The subject also seems to pop.
If you are thinking of Rolleiflex or TLR, don’t hesitate. Otherwise, you are missing out good stuff in life! I have seen images on the Seagull, they are not bad! If you are on a tight budget, get a Seagull! Or else, I really think you should try Yashica Mat 124G or Rolleiflex.
Let the camera proves they are worthy of your every penny.