Is This the Worst Camera in the World?

My first shots with the Gakkenflex 35mm TLR.


sonny rosenberg

3/9/20232 min read

Ah, I can see this post is going to take some explaining. I'll try to keep this somewhat brief though, so bear with me if you will?

I'm starting to think my good camera karma ran out after the recent aquisition of the lovely little Voigtlander Brilliant. Back in February I ordered what I thought was a nicely refurbished with 12 month warranty little Rollei 35 from an outfit in the U.K. called fittingly enough, Film Furbish. The camera took almost a month to arrive (it was stuck in Jamaica Queens for a couple weeks) and when I loaded it with film, the shutter immediately gave up the ghost, never to fire again (for me anyway). it's on it's way back across the pond.

The same evening that the long lost Rollei arrived so did a really odd little camera. It's a toy 35mm TLR. It's one of those things that is sort of a good idea, but not so much in practice. As I understand it, these were first made to go in a Japanese magazine unassembled and they proved so popular that the company that makes them began selling them as a stand alone product, also unassembled, under a few different brand names. Mine is branded Recesky but may be the same camera as the Gakken. Weirdly, I purchased mine assembled, I'd never seen them sold like that before.

It really is a camera, the shutter fires, the lenses sort of focus, the viewfinder is brightish. That's all the good things I can list about it, it's pretty much pure junk in my book. On the other hand, whaddaya want for a thoity dollah cam-ruh? Huh? High up on my list would be a camera that can successfully wind on and then rewind its film. That would not be this camera. After wasting most of a roll of Rollei Super pan, I finally got it to take up film, but I could not for the life of me, get it to rewind. I unloaded it in my light tent.

This camera should go straight to the junk bin so no one unwittingly picks it up thinking it might actually work. Nonetheless I've already loaded it with the aborted half roll rescued from the ill fated rollei.

I did manage to wrest a few frames from this little wonder. It was actually moderately fun to shoot given that I had no fucking idea what frame I was on at any given time. Bitter? Who, me?

One day, when I possess a higher tolerance for frustatration, I'll shoot that half roll of Rollei 80s it now houses, immediatly afterward I'll snap the taking lens right off it and probably do something brilliant with it, like grafting it to my Leica.

Is this a sickness, and do you think there's any help for me?

The incredibly virtuous shots below were taken with aforementioned Rollei Superpan 200 (on my way to the post office) and developed in Adox FX-39 for 13 minutes at 68° F.

I think the lens does have some potential (for me anyway) but it needs a realer camera to be on.