In the past, I've missed jumping on the new camera or film bandwagon, meaning I’d miss the exciting frontier of trying out a product that everyone didn't already own. However, I recently jumped onto the new Belair X 6-12 bandwagon and below are my first thoughts of owning and shooting with this new and unique camera.
There are many great things about the Belair X 6-12: the multiple formats including the 6×12 panoramic function, lightmeter, bulb mode, nice viewfinder, hotshoe, and aesthetically it’s nice to look at too. But there are still some issues I’m working through with it…
I’m not altogether impressed by the plastic lenses that accompany the Belair X 6-12. They just don’t seem to work hard enough to do justice to my shots. It is a lovely strange camera that looks impressive to shoot with, however the cheap plastic lenses let it down (I guess I better put the new glass lens on my wish list).
In saying that, if you are after the grainy or dreamy effect, then the plastic lenses will suit your taste just fine, and indeed there are some beautifully composed shots taken by the Lomo community …it all depends on your taste.
Size & Shape
The Belair X 6-12 is a lot bigger than it I expected it to be. It is wider than a ‘regular’ camera so it doesn’t easily fit into any of my camera bags. This is made even more inconvenient by coming without a camera strap. So until I’ve worked out a better method, I have my Belair X 6-12 enclosed in an unsophisticated thick sock when I’m out shooting, and keep a very careful hold on it!
My friend has an admirable collection of old Polaroid cameras with bellows, so this feature on the Belair was attractive to me. The bellows are delicate and over time I suspect I will have to be more careful with them. The only thing I’m worried about it how hard it is to click them back into place when deflated; I feel as though in the future the notch that holds the bellows in is under too much pressure and might give way. Also, you cannot ‘sit’ the camera down when the bellows are inflated, it’s awkwardly front heavy so you have to deflate the bellows first or keep it around your neck.
I am not sure if it’s just me but the winder on the Belair is extremely tight. I suspect it is part to do with how the 120 film rolls onto the spool and part the way it has been made. Either way, it’s almost a two-handed job to wind the film on at the moment. I have a few 120 film cameras and do not find that they have the issues with the film not winding on tight as with the Belair. I have learnt that I need to pull out the finished film very carefully and quickly wrap it in foil to prevent light leaks.
As I have only used the 6×12 format, I am sure that once I have had more of a play with other formats and the new glass lenses, it will make the world of difference to my preference for using this camera. In the meantime it will be my go-to dreamy effects (in a thick sock) camera choice.