The Blackbird, Fly Toy Camera
Blackbird, Fly: A must-have for the kid in you.
The Blackbird Fly is a 35mm twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera made by Superheadz in Japan. It comes in a multiple colors (Blue, Black, White, Red or Orange) and some limited editions. It looks and feels like a disposable camera which for some is a good thing.
The first time I saw a the Blackbird Fly was in a surf shop in Péniche, Portugal. It was a limited Carhartt edition.The very first thought I had when I was holding it was: I want one. Followed by: Wow it’s so small and incredibly light. The shop owner explained that the camera is also super robust. (it fell once in the sea and after a day of drying everything was still working as it should be.) Owning the Blackbird Fly was the reason I bought my Rolleiflex 3.5 MX. The thing that I love the most about shooting with a TLRs is that people don’t necessarily know what you’re photographing and that makes street shooting much easier. Needless to say I am thrilled to own a Blackbird Fly because unlike conventional TLRs that use 120mm film, the Blackbird, Fly uses 35mm film.
It also comes with a little plastic bird cage to store it in, which I happen to think is very typical Japanese fashion, the packaging is very important. So aside from being merely attractive, it also serves a bit of a purpose it protects from dust and transports which is very important if, like myself, you live in an urban environment and/or different countries.
As far as aperture goes, you have a choice between f/7 for “cloudy or foggy” and f/11 for “good to fine weather.” For shutter speed, you can choose between 1/125 or “B” for bulb. The bulb function leaves the shutter open as long as you hold it. You would probably want to use a flash with the Blackbird Fly if you were shooting indoors, dusk or at night. The bottom of the camera contains contains tripod screw hole so you can attach it on your tripod.
© Fortes Odair
Different shooting Formats
There are two ways to take a picture with the Blackbird, fly. For quiet and reflective framing, you can hold the camera at waist level and look down, to compose your shot using the finder lens. For a quicker style of shot, you can use the sports-finder, which approximates a viewfinder through a notch in the top of the camera.
The Blackbird Fly gives you the option to shoot in three different formats: standard 35mm (24mm x 36mm), square format (24mm x 24mm), or full frame with sprocket holes. It comes with two masks: one for standard and one for square. For full frame, you simply remove the mask. Obviously, you have to choose which format you want and change the mask accordingly before you load the film.
Loading and unloading film
The loading in is a little bit tricky since it will be the first time you use a 35mm roll to load in a TLR camera. The film mechanism is very well designed. You will have to do some acrobatics with the film path to make things work. It’s not impossible, but it is a bit tedious. The instructions on the manual are very clear and comprehensible. You will have to carry the manual with you as you wont remember everything on the first try. My solution is to just download the PDF on your phone.
Shooting with the Blackbird Fly is pretty straightforward. You pop open the viewfinder at the top, set your focus based on your estimation of range, pick the appropriate aperture, frame your shot, then pop your shutter. Repeat as needed. As a camera, it’s fun to use, operates fairly smoothly, and generally garners attention from the surrounding folk. The shutter release is on the front and the winding knob is on the side. In case you are not familiar with TLRs, one lens takes the picture and the other lets you see the picture in the viewfinder. This means that, like a with rangefinder, you don’t actually see what you’re photographing. This is important to keep in mind, especially if you’re shooting portraits.
The medium-wide-angle view the 33mm lens provides, is a medium-wide perspective, which is commonly used for street shooting, reportage, and general photography.
It’s also very easy to make multiple exposures. As long as you pop the shutter as many times as you want without advancing the film, allows you to take multiple exposures on the same frame.
If you’re looking for a fun little plastic camera, this little gem is worth the money. It delivers exactly what many toy camera fans want – Holga-esque lo-fi character in spades, which right now is very ‘in’ and thus very contemporary. If that’s the look you prefer, then you’re good with the Blackbird fly. It’s well designed, robust and serves its intended purpose.
Happy Shooting !
© Fortes Odair
Camera Type: Twin lens reflex camera
Film Format: 35mm
Weight: 210 grams
Apertures: f/7 (cloudy) and f/11 (sunny to fine weather)
Shutter speeds: 1/125 and B (Bulb mode)
Lens: Wide-angle 33mm lens
Focus: Visual distance you have to estimate 0.8, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 10 and ∞
Additional features: As mentioned before you can take multiple exposures, and attach an optional flash.
For more information and questions:
All the pictures shown in this article were taken by Fortes Odair. To see more, please head to the links below:
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