1. Can you tell us a little bit about what you collect for those of us unfamiliar?
Twin lens reflex cameras (TLRs) from the late 1920s to the present day. These are cameras which have a “taking” lens situated below a “viewing” lens and were very popular professional and serious-amateur cameras before the SLR camera became reliable enough to be widely accepted during the late 1950s and 1960s. Most date from before the mid-a960s, although a few Chinese manufacturers are still producing cheaper cameras, and Rollei still makes a few special models for collectors. There’s a short history of the TLR on my site here.
Generally I specialise in those which use 120 film, although I do have a small number which use 127 or 35mm (from the days before this was sold in the cartridges used nowadays). The 120 medium format TLRs date from 1929, when the first Rolleicord model was launched in Germany. Several German manufacturers copied or adapted the format, and Japanese makers started making similar models to the Rolleicord and Rolleiflex in the late 1930s.
I collect all TLRs from around the world – currently I have around 350, and I still buy two or three a month if something interesting comes up. By far the biggest contingent is from Japan and most of my collection is viewable on my website. Other main countries represented are Germany (of course), France, Czechoslovakia, China, America, Poland and Britain.
2. How long have you been collecting?
Only about six years or so. 3. How did you get started collecting TLR cameras?
I had been interested in these cameras for a long time, but it was the arrival of eBay and Yahoo auctions which made it possible to track down rarer models more easily. I now have a few cameras of which mine is the only example remaining apparently known.
4. What is the “dream” item for you?
The one I’d love to own, but probably never will is a VERY rare Swedish camera made by a man called Hedman in the 1930s – you can see it on my webpage here. It’s an amazingly beautiful camera made by a professional furniture maker; only a very few were made.
I’d also like to track down a Japanese Fujicaflex – they’re not all that rare, but they don’t turn up very often. There’s one on this page
5. What is your favourite part of collecting TLR cameras?
Tracking down a rare one. I have in my collection a rare special edition Rolleiflex Urushi made after Rollei was bought by a Japanese firm (see here). Finding that was a memorable success! 6. What is your favourite item you found thru Rinkya and why?
Well I recently won a rare Eicaflex on Yahoo, but there have been several other unusual cameras which one doesn’t find outside Japan itself.
7. What makes the TLR cameras you find in Japan different/special/collectable?
Just the rarity of some models and the amazing range of models made by small manufacturers in the 1950s. Some of the names are also wonderful – my favourite is the “Dorisflex” – marvellous name!
8. Where can we see your TLR collection?
At TLR Cameras, where the links to all the other sections is.
Thank you for the great interview Barry and good luck with your collection!! Check out Barry’s informative site and learn everything you want to know about TLR cameras!