IN A TWIN-LENS REFLEX CAMERA (TLR), one of two vertically arrayed lenses is for the viewfinder, and the other is for taking the actual photograph. In the 1950s in Japan, the demand for twin-lens reflex cameras (TLRs) suddenly took off for several reasons: they typically offered good image quality, were sturdy and durable, and were available at a reasonable price.
But using two lenses meant that what the photographer saw in the viewfinder wasn’t exactly what appeared in the shot. In particular, it was difficult to capture the same relationship between the subject and the background that one saw in the viewfinder. Moreover, the closer the camera was to the subject, the harder it was to achieve an accurate focus, making it difficult to shoot anything closer than a meter or so.
In 1954, Fujifilm introduced the Fujicaflex, which it developed to be the finest TLR produced in Japan. Distinguishing itself from the many cheap TLRs then on the market, the Fujicaflex incorporated a cutting-edge lens that delivered beautiful, high-resolution photos. A single mechanism altered the position of the front lens element of both the taking lens and the viewfinder lens to achieve simultaneous focus, making possible in-focus shots at the short distance of 70cm. The camera embodied several other clever and advanced ideas as well. For example, the nob on the side smoothly adjusted the point of focus; when pulled outward from the camera body, this same knob wound the film forward. It was a nice detail that made taking pictures just a little more speedy and convenient.
The Fujicaflex was very favorably received by photographers who at the time credited it as a new height in Japanese camera technology. It was a product that greatly enhanced the brand image of Fujifilm cameras and paved the way for future innovations.