When I ordered my Belair X 6-12 City Slicker, I bought it as a bundle with the 35mm back. During our holidays near Venice in Italy I shot my first roll with it. Read on for the photos and my findings!
The beach panorama above was shot near our camping at Ca’ Pasquali, and the other photos were made on the colorful island of Burano, which was just a small hour away with a ferry. All houses on Burano are painted in different colors, and that makes it into a very scenic place. I used a fresh Agfaphoto CT Precisa 100 slide roll and got it cross-processed.
The 35mm back is pretty sturdy and fits easily onto the Belair. It matches quite well with the all-black City Slicker, but not so well with the Jetsetter version. Putting the film in works as usual with a 35mm camera, and then you already see the very large size of the negative that is being used. As you are using the sprockets also, this is approximately 32 mm x 100 mm, about three times the normal size of a 24 × 36 mm photo.
However, you are still using the regular Belair lenses, so the height of a panorama photo is pretty limited and the width is not wider than a regular 6×12 medium format photo with the Belair. With the 58 mm wide lens, your angle of view is about 90 degrees and height is only about 30 degrees.
So you will use the 35mm back most of the time with the wide angle lens in more spacious areas rather than in cramped cities to be able to get a nicer panoramic view. Otherwise you will end up with a sort of letterbox effect, but this can be something nice, too.
The spooling mechanism is quite advanced but not coupled with the shutter. So you will have to push a button on the back and advance the film with a wheel until it stops. The shutter can be clicked multiple times to provide multi-exposure capabilities. This also means that you have to develop your own routine when to spool the film right after you have taken a shot (as I do now) or just before you take a shot.
On this roll I had one blank exposure, where I was probably not aware that I had advanced the film already. You can shoot up to 12 panorama photos on a regular 35mm roll of 36 exposures, which is twice the amount of medium format film when you use the 6×12 back.
Vertical photos are also possible of course, but can be rather difficult to frame. For every photo you need to be aware that the upper and lower part of your view in the viewfinder (with regular panoramas) will not appear on the photo.
And of course you are still facing the limitations of the light meter and shutter with the Belair so in very sunny conditions you might end up with overexposed photos due to the maximum shutter speed of 1/125 even when using 100 iso film and aperture f16.
But for a limited amount of money you get a nice set of extra features for your Belair, with much higher quality results compared to the Sprocket Rocket cameras. The sprockets can give a nice effect, however your panoramas will not be as wide as with the Horizon Perfekt or Kompakt cameras with their 120 degree swing lenses.