Microflex

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The Microflex is a crank-wound 6×6 TLR made by Micro Precision Products, launched in 1958[1] and the last of MPP's medium-format cameras.[2]

The Microflex has a pair of Taylor, Taylor & Hobson Micronar 77.5mm lenses; the taking lens is f/3.5, the viewing lens f/3.2.[3][4] These had been designed by MPP, and they are therefore unique to the Microflex.[2]

The lens elements were assembled and inspected by MPP. Optically, the Microflex is of excellent quality.[2]

The shutter of the Microflex is a Prontor, but unlike that fitted to the Microcord II.[2] The Prontor SVS shutter has speeds 1 – 1/300 sec., B, and delay.[3]

The shutter speed and aperture wheels are linked, so that adjustment of the one adjusts the other for constant exposure value.[2]

The screen has a grid, and some form of automatic parallax correction.[5] The hood has a pop up magnifier and also the usual apertures to result in a "sports" or direct finder.[2]

Production of the Microflex is thought to have continued until around 1960.[6] What is certain is that shortly after the camera was released in 1958, the British government removed import restrictions that had priced the highly reputed Rolleiflex cameras out of the reach of all but the richest photographers. MPP was forced to sell off its stock of Microflex cameras at a low price.[2]

The Microflex has unusual requirements for film loading, carefully explained in MPP's instructions — which of course may be missing from any surviving camera. Simply, when the back is opened to remove an exposed film, the back should not be closed until a replacement film is loaded. However, if the back has been closed with no film, then when film is loaded it should be drawn into the take-up spool "manually" (the take-up spool not inserted but instead held in the hand). Only when the start arrows on the backing paper match the two red dots in the camera body should the take-up spool be inserted. Throughout this, the winding crank must not be moved.[2][7]

Notes

  1. According to at least one source, 1959. However, Skinner (pp. 19, 53) confidently says 1958, and there is no particular reason given for the later date.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Basil Skinner, "The Microflex TLR Camera", pp 53–56 of Micro Precision Products: The MPP Story and the Products (Newquay, Cornwall: MPP Publications; ISBN 0-9546070-1-5).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Microflex, at Early Photography.
  4. The widespread tale that they are actually Ross Xpres lenses is false. See Skinner, pp. 54–55.
  5. Skinner (p.53) mentions "the automatic parallax correction", but does not elaborate. However, the Microflex instruction manual says nothing about parallax correction, despite including a good deal of detail on how to compose photographs.
  6. MPP TLRs at the MPP Users' Club (archived).
  7. In an unusually (for eBay) informative description in an eBay auction ending 9 April 2011, seller "beedhams" says much the same thing, ending "I trust this information is of interest to those who have Microflex cameras and wonder why the winding system does not seem to operate correctly." Beedhams also provides an alternative solution for what to do after the body has been closed with no film inside: "wind and fire the shutter 12 times with the back closed, and then open it and load the new film." Moreover, he describes the normal procedure: "The little peep window should show a circle with a dot in the centre. This is the only condition in which a film should be loaded. Wind the film until the arrow on the backing paper is opposite the two white marks. Close the back and continue winding until the handle stops and then wind it back. For subsequent exposures, wind the handle forward until it stops and then backwards until it stops." (Collectors will here note the tiny disagreement over whether the indicators within the camera are red or white.)

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