Imperial Reflex 620 Duo Lens

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The Imperial Reflex 620 duo lens was a simple plastic box camera made by Imperial for 620 film.

Its most notable feature was a waist-level brilliant finder (actually a "Watson" finder with a ground-glass plate and a hood) which showed a large, rather dim image of the view through the finder lens. The finder was styled to resemble that of a TLR. The camera also had flash-sync contacts and a sturdy plastic strap. In addition to the black and grey and black and cream variants shown here, both of which have a red trigger and knob, there is also a black variant with grey trigger and knob, and metallic grey face-plate.

There was a version of this camera marked "OFFICIAL CAMERA, Boy Scouts of America."

While it appears comparable to, say, a Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, as it's a 620 box camera with a brilliant finder and flash contacts, it is a somewhat inferior camera. The finder is of far lesser quality, being quite dim, and as the two lenses are of entirely different sizes and shapes, it is unlikely that it gives a good impression of the focus or depth of field, so it's actually little better than a frame finder. Some people may however appreciate the TLR-like aesthetic. The shutter also lacks a bulb exposure setting, being limited to one speed with flash-sync.

This being said, and as cheaply as one can sometimes find this camera at thrift stores and yard sales, it can be a nice introduction to lomography. It can take trimmed 120 spools with less friction than a Hawkeye can (though it cannot take untrimmed ones at all), and every part of it is quite sturdy. The shutter is fairly slow, probably on the order of 1/50-1/25 of a second, though oiling it may raise the speed slightly. The slow shutter speed means that it is important to use slow film for daylight photography and to always hold the camera very steadily to avoid camera shake. The optimal technique for firing the shutter is to depress the trigger slowly until it is about to fire, then to fire it with the shortest, gentlest motion possible.

An interesting historical aside is that this is the camera used by Lee Harvey Oswald's wife to take the famous picture of him with the rifle before he assassinated John F. Kennedy.


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