How did I react when I heard there was a new Lomography camera coming out? Excited! When I finally saw the Belair for the first time it only took me 24 hours to decide and pre-order that baby. I mean hello? 120, built-in light meter and did you see the looks??? REALLY? Everything that was on my wish list just had to wait a little bit longer (sorry Lubitel, sorry Diana baby) and I totally went for this baby!
And now you know this, you can imagine my excitement when I heard I was one of the “chosen ones” in the Netherlands to try out the Belair, almost one month before its actual launch date. So I started shooting and for the ones that are waiting for it or doubting to get it; Here is a little review about this new big baby.
My first impression;
I hate track&trace. Or I love it, I don’t know. I found out my Belair was coming in last Wednesday and I was staring outside the windows all day, reacting to every slightly heavier car that drove by and finally, at 4PM my camera arrived. When I unpacked (unfortunately it wasn’t boxed – that was an offer I had to make to get it early) the camera was still cold from being in the truck all day. But it was so pretty and so big!!! I had an idea but the camera was even more perfect in real. It came with some example pictures to show the different formats (6×6, 6×9 and 6×12!), my certificate (i have number 26) and the two lenses (90 mm and 58 mm wide angle).
Of course I needed to shoot with this camera immediately. I didn’t get a manual (well got that later but figured most of it out by then ;)) but I found a little information online and I found out quickly where I could change my ISO (a little wheel on the inside of the camera – only visible when opened) and that I needed two small batteries. Luckily I live in this very big city called “Amsterdam” and I those were found within the hour…
And the first films…
Because it becomes dark so quickly I decided to shoot with Lomography 800 ISO CN so I could try it out inside without a flash. I didn’t want to use the flash right away because I first wanted to try out the light-meter and how it would work in darker circumstances. I shot the first roll on the 6×6 format with the 90 mm lens… results; pretty well focused images but it was a little bit too dark. my subject moved a little bit (my cat) or I shook it a little bit too much for the longer shutter speed it needed. But the images turned out pretty visible. So conclusion? for inside/darker places use a flash or keep it really steady. I am really happy about the focus and you can see that pretty well in the picture of my beloved cat in the window.
the 90 mm lens has a pretty narrow view, a little bit more narrow than I expected. It reminds me a little bit of the Diana F+ standard lens. But still, when you know it – it works pretty well especially for the 6×6 format!
The second film I wanted to shoot with the 6×12 format (changing formats goes really easily by just inserting a different frame before loading the film) just because I think it’s such an crazy format. I chose for the 58 mm lens to go with it – I think they belong together. The film was a 400 iso CN from Lomography. Instead of 12 frames you only shoot 6 (you turn it from 2 to 4 to 6 – or you can shoot every frame and get crazy double exposures on the sides – could be really cool but haven’t tried that out yet)
I tried it inside, outside, with bulb mode and lightpainting and took a double exposure – just to see what it can do. And it shows – the Belair can do anything! It is really easy to hold and shoot and it sure is a camera you want to be seen shooting with. The shutter sounds nice and clear, all the settings are easily changed and it’s just very easy. A camera with loads of possibilities, way more than I could try out in these first two rolls of film.
The best things about the Belair:
+ The automatic light meter (so easy!)
+ The wide angle lens – really wide and works very very well on 6×12
+ It’s easy to use and to take (big but not TOO big, and not TOO heavy)
+ When folded it’s a really flat camera and will fit inside every bag.
Things to get used to (but aren’t turn-off’s at all!)
- The 90 mm lens. It’s very narrow, especially compared to the size of the camera you’re using.
- The foldable system feels fragile in the beginning.
- I had some trouble loading the film (it’s really tight in the beginning)
- finding the bulb function (it’s on the ISO wheel – so now you know this it won’t be a problem for you guys!)
So, now I have my film back and I know it’s character a little bit better I can’t wait to make way more pictures with this baby!!!