Customer Reviews: Blackbird Fly 35mm TLR Twin Lens Reflex Camera - Black with Orange Face [Camera]
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on November 30, 2009
Background: My experience is as a professional photographer and designer with more than 20 years of experience, and a lot of experience with "toy cameras". The "toy" camera movement (Diana, and Holga) is a well established avenue of art photography as well as just plain fun photography. Using cheap simple cameras with fuzzy lenses one can create some absolutely beautiful images. I've spent a lot of time working with Holgas (I have 4) and Hasselblads ( I have 2). Each of my Holgas were acquired for $15 or less... new. The most expensive accessory was a polaroid back that is remarkable and great to use. I started working in medium format with a Yashicamat 124G which i still have and cherish. If you are looking to get into medium format the Yashicamat is a great place to start and you can find them cheap on ebay. I love TLR and vertical view cameras because of the ground glass "backwards" viewers and their square format. Once you get used to that kind of set up you will always want such a viewfinder.

that viewfinder is what caught my eye when I saw the Blackbird... along with the nice styling, great colors, and good feel of the plastic.

REVIEW: there's a lot that is lacking in the experience of using this camera. The blackbird's viewfinder is not ground glass, it's a quasi optical finder with mirror. This kind of finder one can also see on old Argus TLRs (also available on ebay for cheap). But the viewfinder of the Blackbird is really messed up and hard to see through. If this camera cost $15 or $25 I'd consider it, but it's not. No one should pay over $100 for a camera like this, it's just not worth it and this ridiculous price flies in the face of the "toy" camera movement. People bought the holga and the diana because they were cheap AND they made interesting images.

Overall the controls of the Blackbird are fine. They give you a very good range of manual focus from 0.8 meters to infinity. The shutter is smooth and crisp. The overall look and feel of the camera is very nice. (not $120 nice, more like $20 nice!)

For those who want to get into medium format cameras, forget about this one. The film format is 35mm and the viewfinder sucks. If you want to do 35mm toy camera work there are a lot of toy 35mm cameras out there that will be easier and more fun to use. Medium format does make a difference and having a good clear way to frame a photo means a lot to getting a good composition - even in toy cam land.

I did not buy one of these partly because I have not seen one cheap enough yet. I tried out a Blackbird that was loaned to me for evaluation. If I ever find an orange version of the blackbird selling for under $25 I'll very likely pick one up for myself, but it will be with some reservations. And aside from the bad viewfinder the other reservations are due to the 35mm film format. Yes I understand you can get this processed at a lot of places. And yes I get that you can use frame inserts to change the format from beyond 35mm to a cropped 24mm square, but that's not going to yield the same kind of results I would get from my holga shooting fuji instant film or 120 film. The holga also allows the photographer to use external flash and/or studio strobes. The holga is not as designery cute as the Blackbird, but if you want really cute there are a lot of old cameras on ebay that are seriously cute, seriously cheap, and which will be a lot more fun to use. Look for an old Argus, Voigtlander, and Yashica.
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on February 12, 2009
this is a 'TOY CAMERA' and it shoots 35mm film. make no mistake about it.

if you want perfect predictable photos, stick to digital.
if a bit of unintentional blur pisses you off, stick to digital.
if you think loading and unloading film is cumbersome, stick to digital.

with that being said, this is a fantastic plastic TLR toy camera. it comes with 2 frame masks: a standard 35mm film format and a square format frame. You can even remove the mask entirely to expose the entire width of the film, including the side sprocket holes.

the viewfinder takes a bit of getting used to, as it's smaller than most other TLR viewfinders. i've shot 2 rolls of film, and my images are actually sharper than i hoped they would be.

i lucked out when i purchased my BBF because i had some amazon gift cards left over from Xmas. the blackbird fly gets 4 stars due to the steep price point (it's an import). i do think it is a bit expensive for a toy camera...
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on February 5, 2013
I've owned this camera for a few years. It shoots wonderful images and is a real conversation starter. Though it's made of plastic, it has a solid feel; unlike most "toy cameras." This is one of the few plastic cameras out there that's really worth the money, and one of the few 35mm twin lens reflex cameras available.
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on May 25, 2009
SO not worth $100+. I received this camera in a "goody bag" on a recent trip to Japan. It's a great toy camera, but I would only pay $50 or so for it. It's cute, kitchy, and well designed. But it is entirely made of plastic. There is a lot of blur and I believe it is not only due to the plastic lens but that the camera is so lite. When you release the shutter the entire camera moves (!)

If you are a fan of toy cameras, enjoy. But be aware, in no way is this camera a good student camera or introduction to medium format. Buy a used YashicaMat or related camera if that's what you are looking for. Yes, a basic tlr will cost you $300 used in good condition, but if you buy this "bbf" (black bird fly) you'll spend <$100 and will have no guarantee how long it will last until one of the plastic parts breaks.

Do understand, I am a fan of toy/pinhole cameras, just not at this price point.

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on June 17, 2011
I have two of these cameras, and I've taken some cool pics with them. HOWEVER, it comes at a price - both have started scratching the **** out of my film, and I can't figure out why. Also, rewind can jam up on you leaving you with one alternative - open the camera, expose the film, and start over.

This camera is based on a great concept - too bad the quality is so dang terrible.
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on August 14, 2010
It was the ideal 35mm TLR that I could find. I didn't want to pay 300 for a lubitel and didnt feel like modifying a seagull to suit my needs. This camera was the perfect match. Although the construction could've been much better for the price, I am satisfied with it. Takes great pictures.
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on January 19, 2013
Love this camera and the unique film it takes. Can't wait to show my grandson how to take "real" pictures, where you don't know what you've got 'til you get it back from the developer!
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on January 31, 2011
I had a little trouble loading the film the first time, but other than that this is a really cool camera, built fairly well, and takes great 35mm pictures.
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on May 27, 2012
I was really disappointed when I received my Blackbird in the mail - at least for the price. I ended up returning it. Even for a toy-camera I thought that the quality was cheap. Don't do it!
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on February 7, 2009
I wanted to try a twin lens reflex camera but was not willing to spend on the Mamiya/Hasselblad brands; was unsure of Seagull/Holga- they looked cheap- so finally saw this camera- 35mm with twin lens reflex- Wow I thought! But I was totally wrong. This is a sham toy camera- the pictures it takes are mostly all out of focus. The operations including loading and unloading film are very cumbersome. I have wasted $120 on a piece of junk. Stay away from this camera- it only looks trendy, that's all!!!
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