I recently and abruptly went from never having even used a TLR or medium format to owning four Argoflex TLRs with an intimate understanding of the shutter internals. Argoflex may be known for their faux TLR cameras with basic viewfinders on top, but from about 1940-1951 they were the real deal.

Simple, but effective with coupled lenses and a ground glass focusing screen. For this roll, I used the last in Argus’s line of true TLRs, the Argoflex EF.

The Argoflex EF, like its predecessors, has an Argus Varex 75mm f/4.5 lens integrated into a self-contained shutter with speeds from 1/10 to 1/200 plus T and B — similar to what you might find on the end of a bellows from the first half of the 20th century. The early Argoflex models accepted either 120 or 620 film, but newer ones like mine are 620 only. Rather than modifying the camera or sanding down the 120 spool ends, I chose to re-spool each roll onto 620 spools.

For the first roll of film I ran through this camera, I wanted to use my favorite B&W stock: ILFORD HP5 PLUS. However, because of the slower shutter speed range and dim viewfinder which thrived in bright light, I went with my second favorite: Ultrafine Extreme 100. It is similar enough to HP5 that I use them interchangeably depending on the light and the camera selection. It also happens to be one of the least expensive film stocks I have ever used.

I typically meter by sunny 16, but I’ll usually take a reading on my phone once at the start of a session to make sure I have the right baseline. Ultrafine is forgiving on exposure latitude, so I rarely lose a shot on that basis. While the grain is visible, I don’t find it obtrusive. Why don’t I stick with all ILFORD or all Ultrafine? Well, I like both, so why not support both?

These photos of the daffodils and the motorcycle were unplanned, made when I happened upon them. The portraits were among the first portraits I made both with a TLR, and medium format in general. I think the Argoflex EF is best suited for walking around town, travel, and event snapshots. It’s one of the least expensive TLRs you can buy, and is a great way to try out the platform before investing in Yashica or Rollei. Combine that with the least expensive film, and it really becomes a camera for everyone.

~ Matt

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Matt Hooker

I'm an IT guy, photographer, DIYer, and appreciator of old things. I shoot with both digital and film cameras, but my heart belongs to the original Exa with the Biotar 2/58. I stick to classic lenses,...

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1 Comment

 

  1. Whaouuu Matt : Bravo, so great. Perfect images.
    Quality is high. Model is very pretty.
    The rendering is fantastic.
    Bravo.
    Thank you very much