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Blackbird Fly, A Guest Review

6 May 2009
By Sean


Today’s review is by a very good friend of mine, MC2 William (Benny) Weinert. Benny and my friendship dates back to the latter months of 2001. We lived a few doors down from each other in the dorms at Northern Michigan University. We were arm chair philosophers together, we shot the shit about photography, and had some great times. Benny moved to Virginia, I stayed in Michigan, but we’ve maintained our friendship and we continue to talk photography via the internet and telephone on a regular basis, except for about once a year we get to hang out in person and drink some beers while we talk philosophy and photography.

I’m really happy that Benny agreed to write this review for The Photo Playground, many thanks to him. I continue to ramble on, but I won’t. So without further ado here is Benny’s review.bb02 bb03

Recently, while I was on deployment (I’m in the Navy), I saw a strange little camera while I was surfing through the lo-fi camera sites. This little beauty sparked my interest right away, as I’ve always had a soft spot for TLRs. I immediately wanted to know as much about the camera as possible and that can’t really be done without having the chance to play around with it. One little drawback was that I was in the middle of the deep blue and it’d take about a month or so the for it to even get to me. So I did the next best thing, probably a better thing, I popped for the $120 or so along with 5 rolls of black and white C-41 process film and a $15 Holga flash and sent the entire setup to my girlfriend. She had recently broken her digital something-or-other and was in dire need of some photographic healing. So I though it was a good idea. About a week later, the setup arrived at her door and she immediately wrote me and said how much she’d always wanted a TRL. I told her shoot away and have fun.

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Fast-forward about a month and I’ve returned from my deployment and desperately want to see her of course, but also the results she’s come up with. Well, she brought the camera out a few times and was really unsure about what she had on that film. She hadn’t developed it yet and seemed nervous that some of the shots may not be very good, because the focusing is mainly guessing and she forgot to advance the film a few times. That’s not really a necessity with this little gem. A few days later, as she went off to work, I went to the Target one-hour processing to see what we had there and the results did not disappoint but they did teach me a few things.

  • Now this might just be Target’s fault but most of the pictures seemed dark. She said it was just a cloudy day and she put it on the cloudy option but still, it went beyond dreary to just too dark in many of the images.
  • 2. The $15 Holga flash works wonders with that little camera. I was shocked that the images she used them with weren’t overexposed at all. They seemed to all come out very nice. Most of the flash pictures were taken at a party and the dark corners and the powerful flash give it a great dingy hard-partying look. She did pop off that flash in my face though as she was snapping a shot of me and that thing burned my retinas. It’s a mystery how it looks good on film.
  • 3. The double/triple/quadruple exposures are the greatest. They were the best shots on her roll and the ones she was most worried about. My favorite in particular seemed to encompass the entire spirit of the party in one shot. Before then, I’d never actually seen a cigarette coming out of a knee before.

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After looking at all her results, I had to have my own fun with this new toy. First of all I noticed that it has many more focusing options than my old Holga. The Blackbird Fly has focus points at .8 meters then 1, 1.5 and so on all the way up to 8 meters as I recall and, of course infinity. Also, it does have the frame size options, but I really didn’t mess around with that.

I did take advantage of this little bundle of joy as we all went out for a round of disc golf. As we strolled through the woods, tossing our Frisbees and tossing back a few cold beers, I snapped off a roll of 36 trying to push everything out of the camera I could. I tried fill flash, on both sunny and shade in both the sun and the shade, tried as many angles as possible and just had fun with the experience. I’ve taken a trend from my girlfriend though and haven’t developed the roll yet. I will soon though, as soon as I get back down to her next weekend and I’ll be sure so share my results with you.


So, I know the Blackbird Fly is a bit pricy, and you just might have more fun with a Holga, but it does give you many more options, it uses a more common, easier to work with film and it gives you that fun TLR experience that you just can’t get with most other toy cameras. Those interested in a fun step up should look into a Lubitel. I have an old Lubitel 2 from the 60’s and that baby has never let me down.

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2 Responses to Blackbird Fly, A Guest Review

  1. ndroo on 11 June 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Great review + great photos. The BBF is really a cute and fun camera.

  2. Craft Collective on 11 June 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Nice review, I’ve been tempted by the blackbird ever since it was released, but which colour to chose….

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