There's no denying this thing is pretty, in Globe Trotter form it may be Lomography's most attractive camera yet. But how does it perform when out and about? Here's my first thoughts on the camera.
It is no secret to those who know me, I have a thing about the Polaroid brand. I came to the party too late, discovering the joy of instant photography when the world had run out of choice, Fuji being the only supplier of instant film (I’m not knocking them, I’m very, very pleased they still do!). The birth of the Impossible Project allowed me to discover the joy of Polaroid 600 cameras, and The Film Photography Project introduced me to the joy of 100 series Land Cameras. I adore mine.
This may seem rather divorced to the subject of the review, but there is a very simple connection. A Polaroid 100 Land Camera is a basic, simple machine. It is a lens on a box with a light meter in it attached by bellows to a film transport with a viewfinder on it. Simplicity aside (and perhaps because of it) using it is a joy.
“I get it!”, I hear you cry. “That’s a lot like the Belair”. But unlike the Belair, and my one biggest regret with the Land Cameras is that they couldn’t take regular film.
Well done Lomography – what a wonderful device you’ve created – a dream come true! And a major improvement over the original.
So how is it to use?
Very easy, you do need to read the manual, there are some very important pointers in there, but when you get through it, you find attaching a lens and a viewfinder takes no time at all. I was lucky to get a hint early on from @bloomchen, who got his before I got mine. You do need to apply a little force when attaching the lens, it will click in and you’ll feel it. No click, slopply lens, twist a little harder.
The only thing I found difficult was loading a film, I found I needed a third hand to pull the spool retainer up, I needed the other two to provide tension to the film to stop it unrolling and leaking light.
All that aside I decided to take a trip to the first place I visited when I took up Lomography, the Auckland Winter Gardens.
I highly recommend grabbing a neck-strap from another camera. Knowing the LSI, it won’t be long before we can buy a well priced matching one from the online store, so I’m waiting. This allowed me to not have to worry about it being bashed in a bag (oh and can we get a hard case for it too – one with slots for the lenses etc?).
Taking pictures with it is a breeze, just like the Land Cameras of old it works really well in even light, and surprisingly well in quite difficult light situations too.
Unlike some other cameras – winding on is a smooth, stress free affair, never any tightness.
Swapping lenses mid-shoot is very easy with no fuss, having a flat surface would be a benefit, but I changed mine on the top of a stone wall.
The camera and it’s accessories are very light indeed. While this may not strike some as important, if you are traveling or out for the day it is certainly very helpful.
One thing I know others have struggled with is the lack of lines in the viewfinder to mark framing for the smaller masks. The little notches are not enough and cut glass lines of some sort would be an improvement.
The overall quality of the pictures I shot I felt were very good – no flares (and I had expected some!), good coloration (a little blue heavy, but I suspect this is my scanners fault).
Right now though, I can already tell you what more I want from it, and LSI team I hope you are listening; I found the shots a little soft when viewed larger, and while this is a good thing Lomographically you have created a creature that has no peers. You could create a high quality coated lens, something like the Lubitels which is much sharper, for this and I would happily drop another $200 – $300 on it.
In summary I look forward to trying out some of the other masks in it, and experimenting with some slide and redscale film. I’ll review it again once I’ve had ample time to get used to it and become more brave. Rather than worry that I only have 6 shots, I won’t think, I’ll just shoot.
Oh, and yes, like the Polaroids of old, the Belair X 6-12 Globetrotter is a joy to use.