The Belair 6×12 camera is truly a surprising and beautiful camera. The 2 lenses that come with the camera are made out of plastic, and even if Lomographers are used to plastic lenses, I had the impression that something was missing for achieving great shots with the Belair 6×12. And then appeared the word “Belairgon”: 2 brand new 90mm and 114mm glass lenses made specially for the Belair 6×12 camera. I knew that I found what I was looking for!
I was very enthusiastic about the Belair 6×12 camera when it came out. A brand new folding camera with a lightmeter and a set of 2 plastic lenses, that was very attractive. When I received the camera, I tested the 2 different plastic lenses (58mm and 90mm) and even if the pictures had the typical Lomographic mood (especially with the very wide 58mm lens) I was truly disappointed by the quality of the plastic lenses. The lack of sharpness – specially at f/8 – was the main problem in my opinion. But, well, it’s plastic and we Lomographers are used to love plastic lenses & cameras that aren’t so sharp but create some moody shots, no? Diana, Holga, or Sardina are amongst our favorite toys, and made only out of plastic, but produce great pictures…
And then, LSI announced the launch of 2 other Belair lenses, but this time Russian glass lenses: the Belairgon! I loved the name, reminding me of the old fashioned lenses all ending with “gon” and also the “Minigon” lens of the LC-Wide. I always liked the sharpness of the Minigon 17mm lens, and I thought that the Belairgon glass lenses could be what I was looking for!
So I pre-ordered the 114mm lens and after some months of waiting for delivery, it was finally in my hands! The first impressions were very good: the lens, built by the famous Zenit factory, is heavy (especially compared to the plastic lenses, of course), the focusing ring moves smoothly and precisely. The feeling is the one of a well built glass lens.
The technical specifications of the lens, are the following (taken from the Belair microsite):
- Lens material: Special multi-coated Russian Glass
- Lens Focal Length: 114mm
- Maximum Aperture: 1:8
- Minimum Aperture: 1:16
- Angle of View: 54 degrees (6 × 12)
- Standard 35mm equivalent Focal Length: 42mm (6 × 12)
- Standard 35mm equivalent Focal Length: 52mm (6 × 9)
- Standard 35mm equivalent Focal Length: 67mm (6 × 6)
- Focusing Zones: 1m, 1.5m, 3m, Infinity
After shooting some rolls, I can confirm that this lens is really sharper and of better quality than the plastic lenses. The pictures are far better, and my impression now is that the Belair 6×12 is closer to the spirit of the Lubitel than of Diana or Holga.
So, if you have the Belair 6×12 camera and are a bit disappointed by the plastic lenses, I can only tell you that the Belairgon glass lenses are a good investment for your camera. Of course, these lenses are a bit expensive, but you can’t expect a great glass lens for the price of a cheap plastic one, right?