A Twin-Lens Reflex (TLR) is a type of camera equipped with two lenses of equal focal lengths. One lens is used for taking images while the other is used to look through. The lenses are synchronized so that they always focus at the same... Expand
A Twin-Lens Reflex (TLR) is a type of camera equipped with two lenses of equal focal lengths. One lens is used for taking images while the other is used to look through. The lenses are synchronized so that they always focus at the same distance. The upper lens projects the image onto the ground glass where you can see the image, typically viewed from above. The lower lens exposes the film when the shutter is opened and most often has an in-lens leaf shutter. The image in the waist-level finder is horizontally flipped, which can take some getting used to. Small differences between the viewing and taking lens causes some parallax error where they don’t see exactly the same, similar to the frame lines on a rangefinder. If framing is crucial for your image, then a bit of extra room around your composition should be allowed for.
The vast majority of TLR cameras have been made for 6x6 images on 120 medium format film, some models take the now mostly discontinued 220 film as well. Well-known TLR manufacturers are Rollei (Rolleiflex & Rolleicord), Yashica, Minolta & Zeiss Ikon. They generally provide similar functionality, but command very different prices. Some Rolleiflex models can run a couple of thousand euros, while the very good Yashica Mat 124G can be had for a couple hundred.
These cameras were typically used by journalists, documentary photographers and others working in the field wanting a light setup with good image quality. Some portrait photographers also used them. Today, they are excellent for taking pictures of people in their environment and as a compact travel camera. Most people not familiar with cameras, will still recognise a Rolleiflex as a quality but old fashioned camera, and will likely attract compliments and comments about your camera if you walk around with one. TLRs are still manufactured in Germany by DHW Fototechnik.Read less