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Art Deco Cameras

Imperial Reflex Duo


Imperial Reflex Duo
Imperial Reflex Duo
Manufacturer: Imperial
Produced: 1961
Classification:Medium Format
Body Type:Pseudo Twin Lens Reflex
Film Type:620
Film Width:62mm
ImageSize:2¼ x 2¼ in
No. of Images:12
Lens Type:meniscus
Focal Length:75mm
Focus Type:Fixed
Focal Range:8ft - inf.
Aperture Type:Fixed
Shutter Type :Rotary
Shutter Speeds:I*(1/50sec)
Size Closed (w x h x d):90 x 135 x 90 mm
Size Open (w x h x d):90 x 175 x 90mm
* Measured on this camera

Art Deco Credentials

star star
Noteworthy: Worth giving special attention

I consider this camera to warrant 2 stars for the following attributes:


The Imperial Reflex Duo is a simple plastic box camera made by Imperial for 620 film. The camera can be described as a pseudo twin lens reflex camera. It isn't a true TLR because the top lens is just part of the viewfinder and does not aid focussing. The camera produces 12 square photographs on a roll of 620 format film. It comes in two-tone colours, either grey/black or cream/brown. However, there is also a completely black variant.

The waist level viewfinder lens is above the taking lens. The large viewfinder image is 4cm x 4cm and is projected onto frosted glass. There is a folding hood for the glass.

The shutter release has a rather large shutter trigger knob reminiscent of Ansco cameras. It is a single speed shutter. The shutter lacks a bulb exposure setting and is limited to one speed with flash-sync.

Focal length of the camera is 75 mm and it has an f/16 lens. Focus is fixed and objects from about 6ft to infinity are in focus. Film is advanced by a red knob and it uses a red window to control the image spacing. There are no tripod mounts. The camera also had flash-sync contacts on the side to accept a proprietary flash unit. It comes with a sturdy plastic strap (missing on my example).

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

Historical Note

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.

How to Use

This camera takes 620 film which is still available from selected photographic outlets. Although the actual film is the same as 120 film, the spools are different. The 620 spools are slightly shorter and have a smaller diameter. Do not use 120 film in this camera because it will jam and may snap. It is possible to cut down the spool of 120 film to fit or to re-spool some 120 film onto 620 spools in a darkroom or changing bag.

Don't forget to ask for your 620 spool back when getting the film developed.

If you don't want to bother with an exposure meter, follow the guide shown. It is based on the 'Sunny 16' rule. Film is so forgiving and will produce acceptable results even when overexposed by 2 or 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop.

Remember that the exposure guide in the camera user manual may not be helpful as it is based on the use of old film with a low ISO value.

The table assumes that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon - that's 10am - 5pm on a summer's day in the UK.

This camera has an aperture of f/16 and a shutter speed is 1/50s.

As the shutter speed is only 1/50s, it is advisable to try to hold the camera against a wall or other solid object. For quick snapshots, hold it firmly against your face.

Using ISO 100/125 film - shutter speed 1/50s

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailApertureExposure
with sharp edges
f/16+2 Stop
SunnyDistinctf/16+1 Stop
Slight OvercastSoft around edgesf/16Good
OvercastBarely visiblef/16-1 Stop
Heavy OvercastNonef/16-2 Stop
Open Shade
Nonef/16-3 Stop