Blackbird Fly: Our Lady of Lavang & Holt Cemetery

The film camera I took on my most recent NOLA outing was the Blackbird Fly, a plastic 35mm TLR  rangefinder made by Superheadz (they also made my Golden Half). I haven’t used it in a while and I was considering selling it, but thought I should use it one more time before I made up my mind. I remembered it as difficult to use, but I think that’s because when I last used it I didn’t yet have much experience with rangefinders. Since then I’ve used several (and I collect Arguses, which are all rangefinders); my Yashica MG1 is my go-to camera for B&W, and even my Smena 8M is a rangefinder.

The only drawbacks to the Blackbird Fly is that a) it’s difficult to take horizontal photos, instead of using the viewfinder you have to compose your photo through a cut-out in the viewfinder hood, and that’s never a 100% accurate way to frame; and b) you have to really concentrate on getting your subjects level. I remember the first roll I shot looked like I had done it in a rowboat. And unless it’s really overcast or you’re shooting indoors, you need to stick to low-speed film (this is Kodak Ektar 100), because there are only 2 aperture settings to the camera–sunny and cloudy/flash–and both of them are fairly wide, I think F11 and F8. With higher speed film, 400 or even 200, in a camera with a normal range of aperture settings, I usually stop it all the way down to F16 when it’s a sunny day.

Anyway, I think I’ll keep it for now. It’s a little unusual to find a TLR that’s also a rangefinder, and the camera itself is fun to use and even rather cute. And like most rangefinders (except my Yashica, which has an in-viewfinder focus aid that allows you to be really accurate), the fact that you’re never 100% right about the distance from your subjects results in an appealingly soft focus.
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