Holga 120s

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The Holga is a fun camera made almost entirely out of plastic. Even the lens is plastic, and its unpredictable characteristics make it ideal for artists that appreciate happy accidents. Besides being affordable (under $25) the Holga’s redeeming qualities are that it shoots medium format 120 film and can easily be modified. To view some of the photos I have taken with my Holga visit my Holga gallery.

The Holga is about as bare bones as possible. It has one shutter speed, one aperture, a focus ring, and a film advance knob. You can buy a flash version of the camera, but I don’t think it is worth it. The focus ring is marked with settings from close-up to infinity. It is a guess at best, but if you were going for accuracy, you probably wouldn’t be shooting with a Holga.

On the back of the camera is a red window that tells you what frame you are on. For those of us that grew up with 35mm film canisters, this may be a little foreign. Unlike 35mm, 120 film comes with a layer of paper on the back side of the film. It is printed with numbers that correspond with what frame you are on. The red window allows you to see the number, and the paper backing of the film prevents the light coming in from exposing the film. It isn’t perfect though, so you should cover the hole unless you are advancing the film. I use black electrical tape to cover the window.

Holga Modifications Because it is so affordable and has such simple components, the Holga is ideal for modification. Coming from the factory, the Holga only has one shutter speed, and one aperture. The cloudy/sunny switch only works if you take the lens apart and add a smaller aperture to the arm attatched to the switch.

The most popular modification is to convert the 6 x 4.5 shield into a 6 x 6 . You can simply remove the shield, but this will tend to leave the film loose. A permanent solution is to cut the plastic shield with an exacto knife.

The inside of the Holga is very reflective. In order to cut down on reflections, you can buy a can of Krylon Ultra Flat Black spray paint and paint the inside of the camera.

Another permanent modification is to convert the 200ish shutter speed into a bulb setting. In basic terms, that means that the shutter will remain open for as long as you hold the button down. The downside is that since their isn’t a tripod mount, it will be hard to avoid camera shake.

Most of these modifications are easier than they sound. There are many good tutorials online with detailed instructions.

Ebay is my favorite place to find deals on great old cameras. Here are the Holga cameras on Ebay right now:

2 Responses to “Holga 120s”

  1. scott golem Says:

    Nice job on the B&Ws. Do you process or send out? Also as far as exposure, do you use a light meter or just go by the box, (bright sunlight,set it at yada yada).

    Keep up the goodwork Scott

  2. Adrian Hanft Says:

    Thanks, Scott. I don’t process my own film (yet). Right now I use Sam’s club for processing, and then scan the negatives myself. A light meter is on my wish list, but for now I use sunny 16, or in the case of the Holga, I guess!

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