Trying different base cameras in TtV
If you’re just getting into ‘Through the Viewfinder’ photography (TtV), you’ll soon discover that there are a number of common base cameras to choose from. The classic is the first edition “Kodak Duaflex” (image #1). It has the advantage of being lightweight (12oz) and streamlined without a light-reflection-shield, as you’ll find on later models: “Duaflex II”, (image #2), the “Duaflex III”, and “Duaflex IV” (image #3).
If you can’t find an affordable Duaflex, a common alternative is the “Argus 75”. This bakelite framed camera is noticeably heavier in weight (18oz) than the Duaflex styles, but you’ll generally find a bright, clear viewfinder glass within the Argus series. There are a couple name variations, yet except for cosmetic trim, they are virtually identical from a TtV standpoint. Shown in the center row, (images #4, #5, #6) are the “Argus Seventy-Five”, the “Argoflex Seventy-Five”, and simply the “Argus 75”.
Another camera which tends to be plentiful on the resale market is the “Kodak Brownie Reflex” (image #7) This slim profile, lightweight (14oz) camera sports a standard size viewfinder. I’ve collected a few of these, and each had mold growing on the mirror or lens interiors—this results in a dirty lens style, which some TtV’ers seek.
My personal favorite TtV base camera today, is a “Ansco Rediflex” (image #8), It’s a little larger than the previously mentioned cameras and weighs 16oz. What makes this camera special is the very large and bright viewfinder, with surreal edge distortion–if the black vignette mask is removed/missing. On the other hand, the larger “Anscoflex” (image #9) has a fun retro exterior, yet often is found with a plastic viewfinder lens, so it may not offer as bright and clear an image as some of the previously mentioned base cameras.
Really, the selection of base cameras for TtV is broad and wide. This small collection is only a sampling if you look around a bit. Share your story if you have a favorite TtV base camera, by leaving a comment! –Val Cox