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What to Know When Looking at Vintage Yashica 120mm TLR Camera

A twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera requires the photographer to hold the camera at about waist-level when taking a picture. The first TLR camera was made in 1885, but they were not mass-marketed until the 1920s. Yashica, however, did not make their first camera of this type until 1959, and they continued making them until the early 1980s, enabling photography buffs and collectors to grab one for their personal collections and use.

What is a vintage TLR camera?

These cameras have twin lenses. The smaller one on top allows the photographer to see the image while the larger objective one captures light to take the picture. The photographer looks through the ground glass on top of the camera to capture the image. Images, however, appear to be horizontally and vertically reversed.

What are common parts of an older TLR camera?

These film cameras like those made by Yashica have many common parts, including:

  • Magnifying glass: This part located on top of the camera helped enlarge images for fine focusing
  • Focusing hood: This part located on top of the camera helps to protect the viewfinder.
  • Viewfinder: This part allows the photographer to see the image.
  • Speed dial: This small circle usually surrounding the film winding knob allows the photographer to set the film speed.
  • Film-winding knob: This larger knob usually located on the side of the camera advanced the film.
  • Viewfinder lens: The top optical glass captures light and sends it to a mirror before it reflecting it onto the viewfinder.
  • Picture-taking lens: The bottom optical glass allows light to enter the camera before hitting the film.
  • Shutter speed dial: This part surrounding the picture taking optical glass allows the photographer to set how long the shutter would remain open.
  • Flash synchronization terminal: This part usually located on the bottom front part of the film camera allows the camera to be connected to an off-camera flash.
  • Lens aperture control level: This part usually surrounding the picture taking optical glass allows the photographer to set how far the optical glass opens to let in light.
How should you care for a vintage TLR?

There are several things that you may want to do to take care of an older body including:

  • Protect the body from moisture: Keep it in a bag with moisture-absorbing silica packs or in a sealed box.
  • Turn all knobs: Do this at least every month to keep them turning freely.
  • Storage: Store the unit with the shutter uncocked.
  • Keep it clean: Use a cleaning kit to clean all parts regularly.
  • Remove the batteries: Do this after every use to avoid possible corrosion.
  • Consider the lens: Use a lens cleaning pen to clean the twin lens whenever you notice dust.
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