Through the Viewfinder: A Tutorial
By Russ Morris - August 10, 2006
What You'll Need
The Duaflex has a bubble viewfinder lens on top, but doesn't have front and side flaps like the Duaflex II, III and IV. The original Duaflex fits my needs perfectly, and apparently I'm not alone. Many of the folks in the TtV group use this camera.
They're fairly cheap on eBay, unless you get into a bidding war! I now have two Duaflexes, and the most I paid was $20, including shipping. Even that seemed a little steep, but it was in decent condition.
Things to ask the seller about, or check yourself if you luck into finding one at a garage sale/thrift store:
- The general condition of the camera. Even though you won't be using film in it for TtV, it'd be nice to get one that could shoot 620 film if you wanted to. Does the shutter work? Will the film advance?
- Check to see if the viewing and shooting lenses are free of scratches or pitting.
- Check if the mirror inside the viewfinder chamber is scratched or stained. If you see big dark spots, the mirror is stained. Not good.
It's easy to take apart the viewfinder chamber and clean all the glass. It really is simple, and worth the effort, in my opinion. But if the mirror is stained, your TtV shots will be affected.
There are many other cameras being used for TtV photos, among them Kodak Brownie Starflex, the aforementioned Duaflex II, III, IV, Anscoflex, and Brownie Hawkeye Flash. Experiment! You'll likely find a camera that works well for you.
Digital SLR and Macro lens
If you use a DSLR, you'll need a macro lens. If you use a point and shoot digital, it'll need to have a macro setting. Some folks at flickr's TtV group use a 50mm lens with close-up filters. The object is to make as big an image of the top of the viewfinder with your digital camera as possible.
The method I used for figuring out just how close I could get my macro lens to the bubble viewfinder and get autofocus to work was to lay the Duaflex on its back on a flat surface and line up my DSLR on that same flat surface so I'm able to focus on the frame around the bubble.
I moved the DSLR in closer and closer, tested the autofocus until it wouldn't focus, then backed away until it would. Very important - I also made sure I could see the entire bubble through my DSLR's viewfinder. This worked great for my set-up. Your mileage may vary...
In order to eliminate glare and reflection in your TtV pictures, you'll need some way to block light between the bubble viewfinder on top of the Duaflex and the digital camera. I use a channel made from black art board and gaffers tape. It's a fairly sturdy and easy material to work with as you construct the tube.
After you determine how close your macro lens can get to the bubble, measure from the top of the Duaflex to the front of your DSLR camera body. This dimension will help you figure out how tall to make your contraption.
I've seen some pretty wild "contraptions," made from a variety of materials: cereal boxes, mailing tubes, plastic tubing and rubber parts from the plumbing section of Home Depot, cigar boxes and shoeboxes.
Browsing throught this TtV group topic on contraptions will amuse, amaze, inspire and delight!
I've created a two-page, 3.1MB PDF that contains directions and dimensions for assembling a portable folding contraption to use with the Kodak Duaflex, available for download here.
The Stealth Trap has worked really well for me. If nothing else, hopefully you'll be inspired to create something that works for you.
I've also created a similar document for a Kodak Brownie Starflex, available for download here.