I picked up the second roll of film that I've sent through my Ciro-flex TLR this afternoon and it turns out using a TLR is hard. Here are a few things I've learned after two rolls:
- Practice makes perfect. If you've never used ground glass to focus, it will throw you for a loop. In addition, everything being mirrored can be quite disorienting. Also practice how you'll be holding the TLR since they are not the most ergonomic devices.
- Buy a short cable release. Not all TLRs have this issue, but the Ciro-flex has a shutter trigger that is, for me, a bit ungainly to use. I found that photos where I took a few minutes to make sure everything was perfectly straight would be thrown slightly askew because of two things: the ergonomics of the camera and the stiffness of the trigger making the camera tilt a bit when firing. I bought a short cable release (maybe about 1' long?) and once I used that it became a dream to use. Unfortunately the cable release was bought towards the end of the second roll but it made shooting the Ciro-flex much easier. Obviously your mileage may vary and people all have different tastes.
- Make sure you have lots of light! The Ciro-flex's viewfinder can be ridiculously dim and in very low light situations is damn near useless. Get used it and plan ahead.
- Get used to people ignoring you because they don't notice the camera. Most don't.
- Those few that do will definitely chat you up about the camera or give you amused looks.
- Your shutter isn't broken, it's just really quiet. I found myself often wondering if the thing even fired when I was out on the street because it's simply so quiet. I suddenly get why Leica owners love their shutters.
All told, though, I really love my Ciro-flex. I bought a really ostentatious strap for it (a pattern of American flags) and although my first two rolls have not been the best, I have had an absolute blast making them. I'm uploading all of my Ciro-flex shots to an album on Flickr - both the good and the bad. My fiance bought me a 5-pack of Portra 160 for my birthday just for the new camera and summer is knocking at the door, so let's get out and shoot!