For playful photographic purposes, the "Blackbird, Fly" 35mm Twin-Lens Reflex (TLR) Camera (aka, the BBF) from Blackbird is a novel camera cashing in on the 'fantastic plastic' craze. The BBF revels in its low-tech simplicity having quite a bit in common with a disposable camera - and that's a good thing. The uniqueness prompted by optical and mechanical imprecision is a desirable flavor in which to imbue photographs with. This genre of image making is meant to be youthful, spry, moody and experimental.
Twin lens reflex cameras such as the Blackbird, Fly possess an optical pathway that differs from common SLR and point & shoot cameras in that they have a pair of lenses, one atop the other. The bottom 'taking' lens, responsible for image capture, contains the aperture and shutter assembly and brings the light to the film plane behind it. The upper 'viewing' lens is solely for composing and has a reflex mirror which projects the image upwards to a horizontal ground glass shielded by a chimney stack hood.
The TLR design's main advantages are that the viewfinder is never blacked-out by a mirror during activation of the shutter, so the photographer sees the subject during the exposure, and that the away-from-the-eye way in which you use it tends to allow subjects to be more at ease around the camera.
- Selectable Framing Formats
- By interchanging included masks, the camera can record 24x36mm, 24x24mm, and 36x36mm sized images on standard 35mm film.
- Simplified Operation
- The BBF has two apertures: f/7 (cloudy), f/11 (bright weather) to which the shutter speed is fixed at 1/125 with the option for Bulb. Focusing is by scale, in other words you approximate the distance to subject and dial the lens to match. The lens has a range from 2.6' (0.8m) to infinity.
- Medium-Wide-Angle Lens
- The 33mm lens provides a medium-wide perspective commonly used for street shooting, reportage, and general photography.
- There are two objective lenses: one for taking the photograph, and one for the waist-level viewfinder. Behind the viewfinder lens is a mirror at a 45-degree angle (hence the term "reflex"), which reflects upwards through a matter focusing screen surrounded by a hood/enclosure used to block some light and reduce reflection on the screen. This creates an image on the screen identical to what will be captured on film through the photographic lens.
- Unlike conventional TLRs that use 120mm film, the Blackbird, Fly uses 35mm film. Although 120 film is very cool, it can be much harder to find and even harder to get developed. With 35mm film you can just drop it off at the nearest 1-hour photo.