Market strategy for the Blackbird, Fly (yes, its name has a comma; yes, that’s awfully precious) would have you believe that “many TLRs are hundreds of dollars,” which I guess is true if you want a Rolleiflex. But you can easily get, say, a Yashica A (or two!) on eBay for less than the Franklin and change that this camera, comma, will set you back.
And yet when I saw one at the ICP Store, long before they’d turn up at Urban Outfitters, I grabbed it. After all, it was in my favorite color. It’s a cute little plastic bastard, and comes elaborately packaged in a hip cardboard box with a hip plastic bell enclosing it like hip pheasant comma under glass. Really comma I hadn’t noticed that affected comma before comma but it is certainly the kind of minute annoyance upon which one can become fixated comma isn’t it.
I loaded it for the very first time about a week ago, nearly three years after it was introduced.
The Blackbird Comma Fly is modelled after the classic Twin Lens Reflex design, but takes 35mm film which you can use in three different formats: with a square or rectangular mask, or without the mask, which is supposed to let the image bleed onto the film sprockets for a larger square negative. I shot a roll of expired Kodak “High Definition” 400 that I acquired from some Flickr group that was handing out expired film, some of it crappy (what I loaded the B,F with), but some of it pretty good – varieties of Kodak’s VC and NC (Vivid Color and Natural Color) Portra stocks.
I shot the B,F without a mask because I am photographically naked like that, but the Walgreen’s where I have been taking my disposable and toy 35mm pictures for developing printed them oblongatic anyway.
I thought 400 ASA film would be too fast for the camaera and I’d end up with blown highlights, but the lens specs beg to differ: a 1/125 shutter speed and an f7 or f11 aperture (never could move the lever that changes them) left me underexposed on an overcast day:
|Loews parking lot, Front Royal, VA.|
I often forget that toy cameras have setting for normal exposure and bulb exposure – the former of which has a normal shutter speed (1/125 sec. in this case), the latter of which holds the shutter open as long as the shutter release is pressed. I have a few very blurry pictures of my nephew as testament.
|An under-exposed but not blurry photo of my nephew.|
I was excited to see how these pictures would turn out, and so in full “let’s finish off the roll on random stuff near the photo lab,” I burned nine frames at and around Walgreens.
It is perhaps not a story for the ages, but it is my story.