The Plastic Chinese Legend, the Holga 120N
The first thing I bought when I got my first pay check was a Holga. I got it for $24 from Amazon plus a couple of 120 rolls of film. It was fun to shoot with, but I wasn’t too happy with the results. I wasn’t expecting much, but somehow the images weren’t too appealing to me. And then one day while browsing flickr I saw SPROCKET HOLES.
I was amazed & inspired and began reading different techniques on how to achieve this effect and the general consensus was that the cheapest and easiest way was with a Holga. I followed the instructions on squarefrog.com.uk and Voila I had a sprocket hole picture making mayhem machine.
The process of fitting a roll of 35mm film in the Holga is rather meditating to me. Its zen-like to squeeze in the film roll between two pieces of foam and then taping the edges of the Holga shut ensuring its lightproof (I’m not a big light leak fan). On the back I tape a piece of paper with instructions on how many times you have to turn the advance knob, even though most of the time I lose count and have to start over again, wasting valuable film.
It’s a nice light camera with no real manual options so it pure point and shoot. Because of its simplicity it challenges you to get the most out of it. I leave the focus on infinity and that seems to work for me. The viewfinder isn’t accurate and I ignore it and think of it as a challenge. I threw away the lens cap after leaving it on for some shots and I am quite sure the plastic lens won’t suffer too much (scratches on the lens may even add some charm).
My tips for shooting with a Holga
Throw away the lens cap since you will forget about it a few times and waste your film. There is nothing to protect since it is a plastic lens. Some well placed scratches may actually improve your pictures.
Don’t depend on the viewfinder since its horrendously inaccurate and see it as a challenge
Turn the lens to infinity (mountains) for focusing. In my experience it is the sharpest setting and get the most in focus.
The PDF printout guide found at (square frog) is the most accurate instructions I have found.
If you plan on scanning the negatives yourself, then ask for your negatives not to be cut when you get your film developed.
Negative FujiFilm gives very nice color around the sprockets.
In the end the Holga is cheap simple plastic camera yet the images it can produce are only limited by your own imagination. Thank you China !