Twin lens in my dark changing days
In June 1995, I was stolen all my photo equipment in Amsterdam. I came
back to NY where I used be with full of depression, without camera . So
the first thing I had to do in NY was buying any camera for shooting. As
clasping $500 I went to a used camera store in downtown. I had longed for
medium format camera. Yeah, I knew there are few medium format cameras
under $500 even the second hand.
But on the day I found it, big as TV camera, in the showcase. "$467"
it's said. "Oh, I can buy it" "Named Rolleiflex SLX, made
in 70s" A shop owner told me as taking shutters. A huge reflex mirror
was flipping inside the camera. In the primitive electric camera which
looked like an archaeopteryx, giant mirror wing flipped and powered film
winder whirred after that. The shop owner allowed me the trial shooting.
I tried it for an hour then told him I decide to buy it.
I was happy with the medium format camera for a week. But on the 8th day
when I took a shutter, the mirror was flipped up with huge sound and would
not return forever. The $500 Rolleiflex was dead on the 8th day. The body
might be too big for the electric systems like a story "Why dinosaur
I showed the broken SLX to an elder teacher of the International Center
of Photography where I worked for. He said "Why did you buy such a
cheesy camera? Primitive electric products often have a trouble. You had
better buying brand-new Nikon with extra dollars instead of the cheap antique"
I thought he was right. But I was optimistic at the moment "All right,
I'll get a refund and buy a Nikon.
However when I visited the store again and asked refund, the shop owner
shook his head without mercy. "You did test shooting and bought the
secondhand. It's all on your responsibility, isn't it?" "Oh boy,
I visited the store following days and asked him for refund. But his answer
was NO. Finally he suggested changing to another camera instead of refunding.
Again I checked dozens of cheap second hands in the show case. I found
a corner of classic Rollei. Maybe the twin lens Reflex was one of the most
well known classic camera. "Rolleiflex f3.5 e2" A price card
said $650. I paid extra money and got it. I thought they let me buy more
and more expensive camera.
Then I showed it once again to the old teacher. "Come on Fumi. Do
you think I'm happy with seeing such a classic camera(made in 1962) one
after another? Well, it's more tough than the SLX. Cos it's all mechanical"
But strictly speaking, the mechanical camera was broken. The camera focused
as moving the front twin lens mounted panel back'n forward. Although the
panel was not upright. It's slightly tilted in rectangle direction. I suppose
the ex-owner hit the camera somewhere. As a result, the picture is unnaturally
out of focus on the edge as if using a shift-lens.
Meanwhile the twin lens had unexpected good points too. The "f3.5
e2" model was cheaper edition in the line up. It had a slow lens called
Xenotar 3.5 by Schneider. Well in short, the lens was excellent. Sharp enough, crispy but rich tone, especially with B/W film.
The mechanism of this camera was also superb. When you open the top lid, a finder hood was automatically assembled. You could pull out a built-in loupe if you need. Bent your upper body and have a look into the finder. You would see an image on the square matte screen inside. It's the image you were looking through the upper lens. Well, the twin lens was not for taking 3D image. The upper lens was just for framing and focusing. Then the lower lens was just for taking picture. In another words, the two lens had to be perfectly synchronized. The German old machine precisely traced it. Couldn't believe the twin lens and SLX were made by same manufacturer.
Let's talk about exterior design. The lens' rim and cog like dial made
a circle shape design group while the case itself was drawn by the rounded
rectangles. In addition to that the part of "Rollei" logo and
small lever switch had leaf plates design. The exterior was drawn only
three design theme.
It's said design was culture. Well, we Japanese never got the idea like that. Could copy the idea. But fake is fake forever, you know?
In my personal history, the Rolleiflex f3.5 e2 was the camera in tough
luck . It's just a temporariness for the stolen camera. It's refused to
enter the US at passport control in Portland. We got same day round trip
to Oregon together. I also brought this heavy paper weight camera to Havana then Paris. My youth was getting over and felt my life was in a dark change,
and I became desperate for everything. I recall the days.
As I felt a little bit sorry to the twin lens, I brought it to the Roillei
craftsman in Tokyo and asked it thoroughly repair. It took a couple of
month and more money. But my Rolleiflex finally got a perfect condition.
Well, I had talked about the cameras in my memories. I counted the number of the cameras I had owned ever. Twelve. Twelve cameras I have owned for last 40 years. Most of them has gone. But when I see each photo in this museum, I clearly remember the name of camera and lens to use. It's funny.
" Rolleiflex f3.5 e2 " 2014