Recesky 35mm TLR: Fun All Day with My Plastic Companion

2012-07-30 11

The Recesky is probably the smallest 35mm TLR camera out there, and for sure the cheapest. This is a fun, DIY (do it yourself) kit that takes about 1-3 hours to assemble, after which you can have a ton of fun shooting with it.


The Recesky is the remake of the Gakkenflex camera that was sent out with issue #25 of “Otona no Kagaku Magazine” published by Gakken. It is a TLR (Twin-Lens Reflex) camera strictly for 35mm film, which sets it apart from most other TLR cameras. That, and the fact that you have to assemble it yourself. The aperture is set to f11 and the shutter speed is about 1/125 s. Also interesting to point out is that the film gets exposed in the portrait orientation.

Putting it all together

I bought my Recesky from eBay for £8, shipping took 3 weeks and then once I received it I threw myself on the parcel like a hungry pack of wolves only to discover that, not surprisingly, parts were missing (mirror, double adhesive tape, and the viewing glass).

Eager as I was, I assembled the main part of the camera while I spent another three weeks waiting for the missing parts to arrive (at no extra cost).

The manual offers a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn Chinese, although it is quite clear just from the pictures; together with the inventory picture at the first page in the manual, you can pair up the different mandarin signs for different screws shown during the different steps.

Words of advice when assembling

There are two major critical points when assembling this camera. Getting the shutter right, and getting the frame advance indicator (equivalent to frame counter) to function properly.

The shutter

This is the Achilles heal of the camera. It is poorly constructed, in my opinion, but what can you expect from a barely functioning camera for less than €10. The shutter seems to rely on two plastic parts being in some sort of highly unstable equilibrium, and once perturbed returning back (by spring force) to this state. When you assemble it you have to tweak the parts until you think you have a shutter that is working, and then hope for the best.

The frame advance indicator

When you advance the film there is a little cog that barely interlocks with the sprocket holes of the film. This cog turns a wheel with an arrow on it 180 degrees for each frame; provided the cog is free to rotate with ease, or else the film will just slide over the cog. It has been reported that this is something that does not work on all cameras. When I assembled the camera I noticed this was the case for me, so I disassembled it and turned the spring inside the cog axis around and reassembled it and that worked much better.


Once assembled the camera actually feels surprisingly sturdy, considering it is an all plastic camera held together with just a few screws. The focusing window requires two hands to open, but can be closed with a single hand.

One the right hand side you have the film advance wheel as well as the frame indicator, and the rewind wheel. On the left side there is a 1/4" tripod thread.

Loading and unloading the film is easy, but for the curious there is an instructional movie showing how it is done:

I really like the principle behind the TLR, but seeing when the object of your desire is in focus is not as clear with this camera as with the zone focus system of the LC-A, but that could be due to inexperience on my part.

The resulting images from this camera result in strong vignetting, and highly unfocused corners, so you are guaranteed to get a lot of unexpected results with this camera.


There is no doubt that I had fun shooting with this camera, as well as assembling it. The single roll of film I put through it turned up with a lot of blank exposures, due to the shutter not working properly for me. Towards the end of the roll the shutter got stuck and stopped firing completely, and I now need to disassemble the camera again and look over the shutter mechanism.

If you want a small 35mm TLR this might be what you are looking for if you are willing to build it yourself, and accept that it might fail at any time. For a more serious TLR I would try the Lubitel 166+ (takes both 120 and 35 film), or the Blackbird fly (only takes 35mm film). Both of these cameras can expose the film including the sprocket hole area, which is something the Recesky cant do.

Bulb mode is possible according to Camerapedia-Recesky

Bulb exposures can be done by pushing the shutter lever down and releasing it slowly to the point before it clicks back to closed position.

The information in the introduction was taken from Camerapedia-Gakkenflex

written by impaktor on 2012-07-30 #videos #gear #diy #35mm #review #camera-review #lomography #tlr #do-it-yourself #gakkenflex #recesky #user-review #assemble #35-tlr #35mm-tlr


  1. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    I love this camera, my first roll blew me away!!

  2. impaktor
    impaktor ·

    @djramsay wow, those pictures look way better than what I got. I have to fix my shutter and snap some more.

  3. djramsay
    djramsay ·

    @impaktor just got lucky with bright sunshine - I spent around 4 hours building mine lol
    The instructions labled the springs incorrectly then i had to stretch them so that the shutter worked - nearly smashed it against the wall at one point in frustration lol

  4. brandkow93
    brandkow93 ·

    Great review, a very intersting camera. If anyone is interested in a "real" TLR I currently have a Lubitel 2 with lens cap and original lomo case for sale.

  5. sedgetone
    sedgetone ·

    The best tutorial on building this little beauty can be found here:…

    It really is a fantastic little camera, every Lomo fan should have one. My second one I flocked the inside prior to assembly which made a bit difference. Also, putting some electrical tape across the inside of the back door over the pressure plate was just enough to improve the contact with the frame counter sprocket. I also put a piece of foam to the side of the compartment to help keep the tension on the film cassette. As long as you're careful about assembly it's really very easy: I would recommend a long Philips 0 with a magnetic tip and a pair of tweezers as the only tools you need.

  6. 110isnotdead
    110isnotdead ·

    Really cool article. I've been on the fence about this camera for a while but I think I might go ahead and get it now.

  7. astilla
    astilla ·

    I love my Recesky! I got one for me on my birthday last year :) nice article!

  8. kf4kco
    kf4kco ·

    It such a great camera camera. Nice photos and fun to build,

  9. schlogoat
    schlogoat ·

    I just built mine a couple days ago :) There is almost no discernible difference in focus though, and the lenses fall off if you focus too far one way!

  10. impaktor
    impaktor ·

    Difficult to focus yes, but the lens should not fall off unless you use a lot of force.

  11. schlogoat
    schlogoat ·

    Hmm, must have done something wrong...

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