The 1947-1950 Kodak Duaflex is a box camera for 620 roll film that has a giant waist-level viewfinder. It only looks like a twin-lens reflex camera!
Kodak made a series of Duaflexes, II, III, and IV, finally ending the line in 1960. I’ve already reviewed the Duaflex II here. I owned one as a kid and liked it a lot. The original Duaflex is optically and mechanically the same camera. Why, then, did I buy this one? Because it came with its original snap-on cover, something I had never seen before. Subsequent Duaflexes had a lift-up metal cover over the viewfinder rather than this plastic cover.
The Duaflex uses a 75mm f/15 single-element, fixed-focus Kodet lens set in a leaf shutter that probably operates somewhere between 1/30 and 1/60 sec. You can also switch the lens to Bulb, so that it stays open as long as you press the shutter button in. That shutter button is big and easy to find, and moves smoothly.
The body is aluminum; the back cover and sides are covered in leatherette (or maybe plastic masquerading). Winding is free, so you need to watch that red window on the back to stop on the next frame. There’s no protection against double exposures.
I find the Duaflex to be easy to hold, but someone with small hands might not agree. But it’s hard to hold the Duaflex steady. Unfortunately, there’s no tripod socket.
If you like cameras that are box cameras at their core, see also my reviews of the Agfa Clack (here), the Argus Argoflex Forty (here), the Kodak Baby Brownie (here), the Kodak Brownie Starmatic (here), and (of course) the Kodak Duaflex II (here). Or check out all of my camera reviews here.
620 film is just 120 film on a narrower spool, so in a dark bag I respooled some 120 Ilford FP4 Plus expired since 12/94 (but always stored frozen) and got to shooting. I developed it in Clayton F76+ 1+9, but goofed and chose the time for HP5 Plus. That turned out to be a good thing because the time for FP4 Plus is shorter, and these negatives were very dark even with that extra minute or so in the developer. I wish I’d gone an extra minute or even two on top of that, as I had to do considerable Photoshoppery to get these images to look this good. This photo of the nearby McDonald’s turned out best.
This image of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis shows a little overprocessing in the sky but is otherwise good. The Duaflex’s lens is surprisingly sharp, given the kind of camera this is.
The lens offers good sharpness with softness only in the very corners. This image of my car in my driveway illustrates that well.
I brought the Duaflex on a walk, carrying it in my hands. My hand wraps around three sides of it, and the camera doesn’t weigh very much, so it wasn’t hard to do. There are no brazes for a traditional strap lug, but there are pips on which to hook the standard Kodak vinyl straps of the day.
This image shows some of the distortion I sometimes got. This one had considerable barrel distortion before I fixed that in Photoshop. But there’s still some waviness along the sides of this shed.
I kept going with a roll of Kodak Gold 200. Right away, I got more of that odd waviness. It’s on the negative, so something isn’t right with the film transport.
But then it didn’t happen at all on other images where, if it had happened, it would have showed up bigtime. Could the negative merely have been a little warped as it went through the scanner?
The Duaflex’s lens is not coated, which shows up as “off” color. The Radiant plugin I have for Photoshop mostly normalized that away.
Pro tip: make sure the sun is well behind you when using a Duaflex. Its simple lens flares like mad.
The viewfinder is surprisingly accurate — nothing’s off center or cut off from what I framed.
To see more from this camera, check out my Kodak Duaflex gallery.
As much as I enjoyed using this Kodak Duaflex, I’m unlikely to keep it. The Argus Argoflex Forty I own (review here) is similar in form, but delivers far better image quality. Shooting the Duaflex only made me want to get out the Argoflex.