Saturday, 9 March 2013

Review - Blackbird Fly 35mm TLR

The Blackbird Fly is a Twin Lens Reflex (TLR) camera which takes 35mm film.  It's very much a plastic toy like camera to play around with, and if you approach it with that in mind, you'll be ok.

They are quite expensive new (70 pounds) so it's worth waiting until one comes up on ebay, I think I paid around 20 pounds.

TLRs use two lenses, one for exposing the film and another for the viewfinder.  The viewfinder is of the waist level type and has some squares for setting up the shot depending on the frame you are using. Although once you're used to the field of view, you'll find you have the same amount of success if you just point the camera and click the shutter.

Settings are basic.  Very basic.  
  • No ISO setting 
  • two aperture settings (cloud and sun), 
  • two shutter speed settings (1/125sec and bulb)
So, like a lot of cameras of this type, either bright sunlight or faster film will help you out.  

Also, the focussing is all guess work.  There are markings on the top dial in meters, just guess the distance to the object.

Loading film is a little tricky, you have to place the roll in a compartment and then spool it.  Once you close the back and start shooting the film advance knob and rewind crank feel very flimsy and plasticky, you definitely need to be careful not to force anything if it feels a little stuck.  Rewinding a film can need a lot of care to be sure you are doing it right.

The camera comes with a couple of inserts which go between the lens and the film.  These allow you to  frame the image onto the negative.  Because I picked mine up cheap, they were missing.  In this case the camera exposes the whole film, including the sprockets, which gives a nice look.  Anyway, you can always crop down your exposed image digitally anyway.

One of the things I like the most is the viewfinder.  It's much easier to get candid shots whilst out and about if it's not obvious you're taking a picture, however the bright yellow case can sometimes ruin this.

Worst feature - Rewinding a film can leave you uncertain it's working.

Best feature - Exposing the sprockets gives the photos a cool look.

Olympic Postbox - Taken using Blackbird Fly on Kodak Gold. Feb 2013

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