Three Modern TLR Cameras for the Vintage Enthusiast

TLR cameras–these Twin Lens Reflex machines have a very unique functionality that makes them appealling to so many people. You need to look down and into the camera as you shoot from the hip or around the center of your chest. Then you’ll need to set the exposure and shoot. These cameras are beautiful, fun and make photography a very different experience.

While there are loads and loads of cool vintage TLR cameras that you can get for cheap, there are also some more modern versions. Here are some that are very worthy of note.

InstaFlex TL70

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The InstantFlex TL70 was an experiment started by the Mint company. They designed a TLR camera with full aperture priority control and that spits out Instant film. While it isn’t the larger Impossible Project or Fujifilm Peel Apart stuff, you still get the fun and portability of the Fujifilm Instax format.

If you want to shoot negative film, unfortunately you’re out of luck with the Instaflex. It was specifically designed to shoot Instant film–which we’re completely alright with!

This TLR camera also has a working light meter, flash sync and a bunch of other features. The first batch of them sold out very quickly, but we’re eager to see when this will be made on a much grander scale.

Inspired by the likes of Rollei and Yashica, the InstantFlex is designed more for fun than anything else. However, it would be really awesome if the camera could take Impossible or Fujifilm Peel Apart film. But with the Instax division looking much stronger at the moment, that sadly may never happen.

Editor’s Note: No, we didn’t forget about Rollei. In fact, the outline of the article had two of their TLR cameras placed right here. So why did we remove them? We know that pretty much none of you have almost $10,000 in your pocket itching for you to spend it. And if you did, you probably would go digital. In all seriousness though, if I had that kind of dough I’d pay off some extra bills or invest it.

Lomography Lubitel 166+

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The Lomography Lubitel 166 is one of the most standard offering that you can get at a great price. It offers full manual control over the exposures and includes a 75mm f4.5 lens. While that seems like a slow aperture, consider the fact that it shoots 6×6 square photos–which is larger than the 645 format and therefore means that you’ll have a super shallow depth of field when shooting wide open.

If f4.5 isn’t giving you enough light, then consider the fact that the Lubitel also allows for off-camera flash sync. Considering that you also have the option of shooting 35mm film with this camera, then that could be a problem.

To ensure that you get photos without camera shake, be sure to hold the camera closer into your core and therefore your center of gravity. Otherwise, use a tripod.

The Blackbird, Fly

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The Blackbird, Fly is a plastic TLR with a very Lo-Fi aesthetic. Think of it as a Holga or Diana camera but in TLR form. As many of you know, those cameras in the right hands can create really beautiful images–especially pinholes!

This camera is also interesting in that it shoots 35mm film only, but can change the format to the standard 35mm, square, etc. So if you’re getting the images developed and scanned, make sure that the scanner knows what they’re doing. Otherwise, you’re better off scanning the film yourself.

These days, they’re a bit tougher to find. But some stores still have them, and they’re very cheap.