A TLR (twin-lens reflex) is an old-fashioned, somewhat steampunk-looking box-shaped camera with two lenses on the front— one lens is for the viewfinder, which you use to frame your shot, and focus; the other is for exposing the film. Today they look like antiques, but they were standard pro cameras as recently as the 1970s. You focus and frame your shot by flipping up the little hatch on top of the camera, and looking down into the 6cm square ground glass. It's fully manual, so you have to focus, set the aperture, set the shutter speed, cock the shutter, take the picture, and wind the film yourself. Advancing the film is done via a knob, which locks when you've reached the next frame. Which is nice— on a lot of cheap, older cameras— and on my Holga and Diana— you have to look through a little red window on the back of the camera, and look at the frame numbers printed on the paper film backing, which is slow, annoying, and easy to mess up. There is no light built-in light meter, so you can either purchase one, or use your digital camera as a light meter, or get a free/cheap light meter app on your phone, or just use the sunny 16 rule and guess at it, as I most often do.
|Tree canopies on Sauvie Island. I thought|
this was a double exposure, but it isn't.
|Guessing at the exposure, I'm tending to over-correct, |
and over-expose; but the results are still pretty cool.
If you're thinking about buying one, I personally would get the cheapest one you can find and then have it serviced by Mr. Hama. It shouldn't be too hard to pick up one in near-perfect condition, but untested, or with the shutter speeds off— that should drive the price way down. Since there's no guarantee that a camera you pay more for will not need servicing anyway, and since after servicing they will each be perfect, new cameras, so you might as well pay as little as possible up front.
Some helpful links after the break:
A few links:
A little more about medium format film and cameras.
About Yashica TLRs.
Yashica TLR Flickr group. Discussion, photos, more.
Some guy writes about his Yashica D.
Way too much info on Yashica TLRs.
This guy is very excited about the Yashica D.
Another Yashica D mini-review.
More detailed review.
Yashica D pdf manual.
Flocking the interior of the camera.