Belaire - More Than Just A Chevrolet Coupe
I am so glad that the Russian camera industry has progressed past the days of stolen Contax factories and orphans producing bad Leica copies out of soft aluminium. I did enjoy the slightly guilty feeling of owning a Kiev or a Fed because it originated from the Evil Empire, but I quickly got over this when I tried to operate them. The sound of the aluminium gears rasping together and the ever-changing light leaks were too much in the end.
Of course, someone will point out that the Diana and the Holga are hardly any better in an operational sense. True, but as they are made of plastic they break much faster and can thus be disposed of earlier in the piece. It is like the unpleasant filling in a railway sandwich - the less of it and the faster swallowed the better.
The new Belaire X 6-12 seems to be a change for the better, however. It shows a degree of enthusiasm and innovation that has not been seen before. Granted that a great deal of it is plastic, the execution is very well done ( well, it is made in China and they are always good at execu...umm...moving right along...). There are two lenses with it, 58mm and 90mm. The camera shoots up to 6 x 9 so we are talking about a useful wide angle there. Of course like all 120 cameras you can choose to advance your frames so as to yield 6 x 6 images - at this point I will leave you to work out your own mathematics about what the lenses do. Suffice it to say they have two apertures - f:8 and f:16. They focus down to a metre.
There is an in-built meter cell beside the lens and you can dial in most popular film ISO's. When you press down the shutter tab it will take an aperture-priority shot.
Cool thing on the top plate of the camera is a slot for one of two viewfinders - these are surprisingly clean and clear. Actually work.