Kodak Duaflex IV

Nineteen fifty-nine and sixty had nothing close to an iPhone, especially for taking photos, video, multiple cropping options and sending any of those to your friends on social media. But when it came to making quality point and shoot images, the 60’s had the Kodak Duaflex IV. You might be fooled by the picture of the camera into thinking that it was a twin lens reflex camera along the lines of the Rolleiflex. But looks can be deceiving. There is more distance between the Rollei and this Kodak that between a Tesla and a VW bug. The Duaflex is a Brownie box camera with a viewing lens to compose your shot. No controls outside the shutter button. Even advancing the film is manual, you turn the dial until the next number (written on the back of the paper backing of the film) shows up in the red window on the back of the camera.

For you shutterbugs, this means no creamy bokeh from a fast lens that has your subject in sharp focus and the background blurry. No choice of shutter speed either. Just point and shoot. If the lighting is bad, tuff! What about stopping motion at the little league game? Tuff luck again. Just point and shoot. But after you get past that, this little camera takes amazing photos.

Not unlike the test I did with a couple of 6×9 box cameras a couple of years ago, it is amazing what a piece of film, a shutter, and a little lens can accomplish. To be fair I was using modern film, Kodak T-Max 100. It is much faster than film in 1960 which was probably a standard 25 speed. I remember color film by 1970 was a standard 64 ISO. With a fixed shutter speed of either 1/50 or 1/100 modern film speed seems custom built for this camera.

The images come from Santa Teresa County Park in San Jose and Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco.

One thing that is difficult to replicate with your phone or digital camera is the character of the lens on the Duaflex. I know there are software options to make a new photo look like something from 70 years ago, but is just isn’t the same. The look of film is different, the way the lens falls off in the edges isn’t the same, it just has a unique character. Kinda like a Moto Guzzi it’s just different.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty impressed. If time isn’t an issue, these will work out just fine, and I won’t lose them to an internet virus because I can always rescan!

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