Say the words ‘twin lens reflex’ to photographers of a certain generation and a particular kind of camera comes to mind. It’s box-shaped, runs 120 roll film vertically through body and uses two lenses one above the other. The lower lens shoots the pictures, the upper lens reflects its image to a large viewfinder on top of the body. The Huldaflex is a TLR but it’s nothing like that. It looks like a 35mm camera, takes 35mm film and places its twin lenses side by side.
The camera was made by the Tougodo Optical Company in Japan and is a name variant, probably used for export purposes, of the Toyocaflex 35. The shooting lens is an Owla 4.5cm f/3.5. Apertures down to f/16 and shutter speeds of 1-1/200sec are set on rings around the lens, while a radial lever to the rear turns to move it back and forth for focusing. At the same time, a second similarly-specified lens beside the first one also moves back and forth to focus its image on a small ground-glass glass screen under a hood on top of the body. A flip-up magnifier helps with fine focus on what is actually a very small screen. This is used at waist-level, but the camera also has a direct-vision viewfinder beside the focusing hood for use at eye level.
Film wind is by a knob, interlinked to the shutter release to prevent double exposures, but the shutter needs to be tensioned by a separate lever on the rim of the lens. Two flash synch sockets are hidden below the lens for use with flashbulbs or electronic flash.
Some classic cameras are bought because they are fun and interesting to use. Others are acquired simply to make the hearts of collectors beat a little faster. The Huldaflex works on all those levels.
1955: Huldaflex 35
The Huldaflex 35, an unusual twin lens reflex from Japan.
View from the top, with the focusing hood open.