I was fascinated by the compactness and vintage colors with which this machine was built and also by the extreme simplicity of the commands with which to take photographs. I currently use medium format cameras, even in formats smaller than 6×6 but none has the weight, dimensions and compact like Bilora Bella.

I decided to take Bella with me on a Sunday morning around the city together with friends and their digital cameras, as soon as I saw my camera they were used! I wanted to choose a film in the classic style, not a tabular grain of modern conception snd, so I identified the best compromise in the Foma Bohemia range; the Fomapan 400, defined by Foma as “Action” because of the high sensitivity. With only two shutter speeds and two possible lens apertures, I did not offer many shooting combinations.

My Bilora Bella 66-3, Massimo Fagni
My Bilora Bella 66-3, Massimo Fagni

I brought a light meter with me, trying to match the apertures with the times available on the camera, being careful not to move the device when I used the long time. I like the result from this film, as well as the others from Foma Bohemia, especially when processed in an ancient chemist such as Rodinal in dilution 1+25.

I shot all 12 images around Lucca, a delightful city in Tuscany, some of them reproduce installations made with paper, a classic element of the territory, other scenes of everyday life around the narrow, poorly lit alleys.

Despite its simplicity, Bella has a system of loading film that avoids making a double exposure but the care managing frame advancement is delegated to the photographer via a window on the year.

The lens is a simple Rodenstock Achromat f/8 and the focus is a zone-based estimate; no automatism is present here and this is a wonderful fact!

Once the film was processed, I was surprised that all 12 frames had been exposed correctly and I liked the results very much, the Fomapan 400 Action has interesting characteristics and can also be developed with other developers to obtain different contrast and grain.

The substrate is rather fine and has a green anti-halo layer which is discharged after development and has no effect on the result obtained; however, in the future I will try other types of films both black and white and color, curious to see the results.

~ Massimo

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About the author

Avatar - Massimo Fagni

Massimo Fagni

My name is Massimo Fagni, I have been shooting and print in black and white since the 1970s It isn't a job but a fun hobby for me. I had a brief excursus in the digital world but after appreciating the total uselessness of the numerical system, I went back...

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  1. I have a house full of 1930s-1980s film cameras and use them often as time will allow, this is a site I have wanted to experience for a long time.