The Kodak Duaflex is a pseudo TLR made by Eastman Kodak from 1947 until 1950 in the US. In the UK they were available from 1949 to 1955.
These cameras were designed for people who didn’t want to learn how to use a camera. They just wanted something simple to take snapshots without having to know anything about shutter speeds and exposure.
The patent for the Duaflex was filed in March 1945 by design engineer, Miller R. Hutchison Jr. Check out the cool patent layout pics here. If you read the details of his patent, he explains his thoughts behind the assembly of this camera. He put a great amount of thought into the design of the camera in order to make it strong, have a low cost, and easy to assemble.
The body is made of aluminum alloy and bakelite. The fixed focus lens has to be more than 5 ft from a subject to be in focus. It is a 75mm Kodet lens with an aperture of f/15. These single element lenses were cheap and helped to keep the cost down for the camera.
The only “shutter speed” options are I for instant, around 1/30th of a second, and B for bulb. The shutter button is a plunger type, so you have to make sure you hold the camera steady with one hand while you depress the button.
It can be paired to synch with a Kodak Duaflex Flasholder that uses SM bulbs when on the Instant setting. No. 5 bulbs can be used if you set the camera on Bulb.
Unlike a lot of these simple cameras that I have shot with, it actually has a tripod mount on the bottom. That comes in handy for the slow shutter speed.
It takes 12 2.25 inch by 2.25 inch square photos on 620 film, which was of course Kodak’s gimmick to create their own version of 120 film on a slightly smaller spool.
My Duaflex is missing the strap and the flash. At first I thought it was also missing the viewfinder hood. After research I found this first model of the Duaflex does not have one.
I used Flitz polish to shine up the body. You may remember it from my article about the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye Flash Model. It worked wonders on the Bakelite body.
The camera was in pretty rough shape cosmetically. The shutter works fine and of course I wanted to shoot with it for Project Box Camera. I couldn’t stand seeing it rot on my shelf the way it was. Over time, the metal has turned yellow and the leatherette on the back door has flaked off. The lenses and viewfinder were extremely dusty and fogged.
I decided to take it apart and clean it. I used tiny keychain pliers to turn and remove the rivets that hold the front plate on. Then I was able to clean all of the lenses and the viewfinder with some lens cleaner. I have a lens cleaning kit you can pick up for cheap on amazon; perfect for these kinds of low value cameras that you don’t want to invest too much into.
Below are the before shots.
I cleaned up the flaking leatherette (or what was left) as much as I could using alcohol. I didn’t have any leatherette to replace it with so I stuck a sticker from Shoot Film Co. on it that seems to fit perfectly. I normally don’t like doing things like this to cameras. What was left of the leatherette and glue was rough on my hands so this was a nice solution and now I have made the camera my own.
After cleaning and reassembling, I was impressed with the brilliance of the viewfinder. Some photographers like these cameras because of their brilliant viewfinder that allows them to take Through the Viewfinder photos such as the one I took of my ceiling fan below. Check out Peggy Marsh’s blog post about it.
The viewfinder surprised me because even though it is big and bright, I worried that without a hood, the sun would glare so badly that it would be hell seeing compositions with it. That wasn’t the case at all.
I had to add in quite a bit of contrast, which is usual with these plastic lenses. The photos tend to come flat as well with HP5 400 film.
Kelsey and I went down to Tradition after a doctors appointment and took some pictures of the Christmas tree and decorations.
I really liked using this camera. My only complaint is the 620 film is expensive to buy re-spooled and I haven’t yet tried doing it myself. Besides that, it was a joy to shoot with, very reminiscent of the Argus Argoflex 75 that I loved shooting with as well.
If you’d like to watch me fix up the camera and shoot with it, check out my video below.
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Until next time, stay motivated and keep shooting.
9 thoughts on “The Kodak Duaflex”
Hi there! Its a bit of an old blog but I received an old duoflex from my mom and i was wondering if this was UK or US built? (I decorate based on location haha). And if its still usable I didnt want to non professionally open it up and all.
Its black with a Duoflex II in red cursive handwriting.
Heres some photos if ever
Sorry as I didnt have a place to ask and your blog came up as I checked around!
ive been digging around the internet to see what I can find for you. It has B for bulb instead of an L for long exposures so that tells me its from before 1953. The UK version that I found said made in England on the front plate, but there were so many variations of this camera it is hard to definitively say if this was made in the US or UK. From what I found, the US stopped making them in 1950 so if your model was made after that it could be from the UK but I can’t say for sure. I hope this helps at all. Inside the camera where the film goes sometimes has a code to help you date the camera and that may help you place the location it was made. Other than that, its hard to tell for me.
As for whether it still works, odds are it does and from your photos it looks like there is film inside. If you press the shutter button and it doesn’t look like the shutter is getting stuck open than it works 🙂
I hope this helps at all.
I have a Duaflex packed away somewhere. I should dig it out for my Frugal Film Project…….I know, 620 film IS expensive……
Yes it is. If you can cut and sand down the spool of 120 film it’ll work or you have to re-spool it.
Nice job cleaning up the camera! Also, here is a video of a guy modifying 120 roll film to fit 620 cameras, and using a Duaflex on top of it all. The edges of the film roll spool are cut to be more narrow, and then ground down on 150 grit sand paper. Link: [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thJrjqztHeA&w=560&h=315%5D
You are welcome!
There were four different models of Duaflex; I, II, III, and IV. They didn’t vary much. The I came in two version, a more expensive style having multiple f stops and focusing from 3.5′ – INF. The II added a built-in finder hood, and the III had double exposure prevention. Kind of odd cameras falling between the ultra-basic Brownie and more sophisticated Kodak Reflex I/II.