For my birthday earlier this year, the incredible Mr P bought me this equally-incredible vintage camera.
It’s a Kodak Duaflex II, and I adore it a little more than is possibly sensible. While vintage cameras make for beautiful objects to display, what I especially like about this one is that I can use it, too.
If you haven’t come across TTV photography before, it’s well worth checking out this Flickr group, or searching ‘TTV’ on Etsy for some truly beautiful images. The general concept is that you use your modern-day, bells-and-whistles DSLR to take photographs through the viewfinder (hence TTV) of the simpler vintage camera. The noise and scratches, along with the rounded corners and slightly faded quality of most images are all part of what makes them special, and a little different from camera to camera.
If you have seen TTV images before, but think they’re too complicated and technical for anyone but a professional to create, it might be time to think again. The images below were taken on a sunny day in my back garden with nothing but the two cameras lined up, one above the other, by a very average happy-snapper (that’ll be me).
A few weeks after taking those first shots, I had some extra time while I was away visiting my family on holiday in Cornwall. While everyone was getting ready one morning, I folded a single sheet of black A4 card into a tube-like accessory for my cameras. There might be a proper name for it, and there’s doubtlessly a better way of doing it, but mine was shaped like a long, four-sided cylinder, open at the bottom to slip over the Duaflex camera, and at the top for the lens of my DSLR to look through. I took it out into the garden and, although it was a little tricky to balance, I think the effort paid off.
One of the things I hadn’t realised until I properly investigated TTV, was that you need a macro lens to get any kind of sensible images. To begin with, I was disheartened – even secondhand, the cheapest Canon macro lens we could find was around £200. Rarely discouraged, though, Mr P did a little more searching and found a much less expensive option in a set of filters which fit onto the end of my kit lens. For me, and my admittedly non-professional purposes, they’ve been fantastic – adding an extra option to my existing lenses, and letting me play with TTV, as well as a few bits of more general macro photography. Things like the blossoms on our (very small) apple tree.
Officially, I don’t know how much the Duaflex cost (it was a present, which adds a big chunk of sentimental value to the actual cost), but you can pick them up on eBay for a pretty reasonable amount, and probably less if you spot one in a junk shop or flea market. Either way, if you’ve ever been tempted by TTV and find yourself in a position to snap one up, I’d say go for it. They’re beautiful, practical and a fun addition to your regular photo-taking options.
And if you already have one, well you know how nosy I am. Point me towards your favourite shots, and I’ll be there to check them out faster than you can say ‘cheese’.