Belair X 6-12 Globetrotter: First Impressions

2012-12-07 11

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.

The Auckland Winter Gardens. Look how much you can fit in, with so little wide angle distortion, amazing!

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.

Beauty and the Beast, My plain Polaroid 420 next to my beautiful Lomography Belair Globetrotter.

Well done Lomography – what a wonderful device you’ve created – a dream come true! And a major improvement over the original.

Another shot inside the Winter Garden, I’ve wanted to get a shot with the roof contrasting the plants here for so long, but without this sort of Panoramic ability available to me it simply wasn’t possible. Brilliant.

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.

Composition is fairly easy, there is a minor parallax issue, something that I’ll need to get used to.

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.

Credits: adam_g2000

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.

The dark/light contrast handled well by the camera here.

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.

Ahhh, the ocean.

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.

written by adam_g2000 on 2012-12-07 #gear #review #camera #panoramic #wide #wintergardens #winter-gardens #interchangeable-lens

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  1. hobbyfossi
    hobbyfossi ·

    Great article and good shots, especially the difficult light/shadow one.

  2. gelagoo
    gelagoo ·

    I also own the 420! Great article. :)

  3. neanderthalis
    neanderthalis ·

    Nice review, now I need to collect my piggies.

  4. deepfried_goodness
    deepfried_goodness ·

    Well done. I've already put a roll or redscale and a roll of BW through my Belair. Colour is next.

  5. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @deepfried_goodness since I submitted that review, I tried some expired Fuji 100/1000 RMS and E6'd it. The film seems perfect and the shots were lovely. Looking forward to doing some B&W and some 50 iSO redscale - need more sun for that though. I'll check out your galleries!

  6. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @gelagoo the 420 is cool, isn't it!

  7. lupideeloop
    lupideeloop ·

    Good review!!!
    You said softness, but I miss the sharpness one can expect from a cam like this. I absolut prefer an old Certo Six. Much better 50 years after assembled than a brand new Belair. It worth better lenses, I think.
    It's really funny if you can get sharper photos from a half frame like the Agat 18K than from a bellows medium format like the new Belair. I lost my illusion with.

  8. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @lupideeloop Thanks for your comment. What's important to remember is that the camera only cost $300 with two interchangeable lenses. That's very little money for the package. When you buy a DSLR the lens you get with it is rarely any good either, but a DSLR will cost 2-3 times that and not give you the freedom of film choice. LSI have the opportunity to provide very good quality lenses for this (see today's announcement, looks like they already have!). I would prefer a rangefinder - I think a rangefinder accessory and these better lenses would perfect this camera. The Certo looks interesting, I'll take a look at one. Thanks!

  9. lupideeloop
    lupideeloop ·

    Thank you @adam_g2000! After your comment I've already realized that Lomography is offering russian sharper lenses for the Belair. It suits me better. I'm now sure it's worth to afford some money to get the cam. But, for the moment I feel happy with the Certo Six, despite you don't have there the possibilities 6x9 and 6x12.

  10. polarapfel
    polarapfel ·

    This is the first user experience I found (out of a lot) with images that have a decent sharpness. I wonder why yours are so sharp and everybody else sucks so much. Did you use f/16 mostly for these images?

  11. adam_g2000
    adam_g2000 ·

    @polarapfel I wanted to get the sharpest images I could and so, yes, I *only* used f16 for the images I shot and stuck to ISO 400 colour film, if you see the slide film I shot here:… it's less sharp, harder to get focus at f8. Here (…) I used ISO 200 and f16 on a brutally sunny day and again got pretty sharp. When you blow up the pictures though, to a decent size, they very quickly start to show a lack of sharpness.

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