Through the Viewfinder Photography with the Kodak Duaflex Pseudo-TLR Camera

Through the Viewfinder Photography with the Kodak Duaflex Pseudo-TLR Camera.

When I started experimenting with Through the Viewfinder (TTV) photography, many of the articles I found about the technique referred to the Kodak Duaflex pseudo-TLR camera as the ideal choice for TTV because of its brilliant viewfinder. At the time I couldn't find a Duaflex at a reasonable price and settled for the Ferrania Elioflex pseudo TLR camera coupled with a Nikon Coolpix S8000 digital camera. I built myself a Contraption out of black foamboard and achieved some really nice results.

I was still keen to try TTV with the Kodak Duaflex, so I was delighted to come across one on the Kamerastore website for the excellent price of €15,00. Of course it was in the 'Not Passed' category, with 'flaws that will affect typical use.' In this case, 'There is haze, dust, and fungus in both lenses.' However, even though I might never use it with film, the 'shutter is working normally.'

To begin with I needed to clean the camera, both inside and out as best I could. First of all though I took a 'before' TTV shot with my smartphone. To be honest it wasn't that bad, there were lots of marks on the viewing lenses and mirror, but the image was still quite bright.

The Duaflex is made of bakelite and aluminium, and the front plate is riveted in place. I have seen articles and videos where these have been prised out to remove the front plate, but my Duaflex seemed to be too well assembled for that to be possible. However, I could remove the two small screws at the top of the camera and slide the viewing lens out of the body of the camera which allowed access to the front lens and mirror. 

I gave the mirror and lenses a good clean, inside and out, reassembled the camera and took an 'after' smartphone image through the viewfinder. This time the image was bright and clean, with few visible spots. Now it was time to select a digital camera through which to take photographs through the viewfinder.

I have a number of noughties digicams in my collection, and I wanted something that was of decent quality to cope with the cropping of the viewfinder image yet also Shitty Camera Challenge compliant (that is, 8MP or less). I settled with the Nikon Coolpix 5900. It's a fabulous little 5MP digicam from 2005 that has the advantage of being small and light, perfect for being attached to a Contraption. I did toy with the idea of using one of my Canon Powershot G5s, but those things are like bricks. The LCD screen of the Nikon is damaged and marked, but these are not visible on the images.

The final step was to design and build the 'Contraption', the light tight box that would contain the Duaflex and hold the Nikon in place. I measured the distance from the bottom of the Duaflex to the front of the camera where I could get a good image (23cm). I took a couple of test shots, which came out beautifully. Then I built the Contraption using 5mm black foam board. I constructed a 'shell' 23cm tall around the Duaflex and cut holes in the front panel to allow a clear view of the lenses and holes in a side panel for the wind-on knob and shutter so that the panels fitted flush against the camera. This time I also fitted a 27-37mm step-up ring, as I quite fancy trying some TTV with filters.

The foam board was securely taped around the Duaflex and a bottom 'plate' added to prevent light leaking into the Contraption. I cut a  circle out of the top plate which will fit securely around the lens of the camera. The Nikon was positioned on the top plate and then taped securely in place. Just to make sure everything was working I took a couple of test shots and the results were amazing. This arrangement was much better than my first Contraption. Now we're ready for some through the viewfinder photography with the Kodak Duaflex pseudo-TLR camera.

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