Some questions before I take the Holga plunge and become a total camera nerd.
August 27, 2006 7:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm about to get a Holga camera. But first I've got some questions about the different models and 120 film.

I've had my eye on Holgas and Lomos for a while and am about to take the plunge and get a Holga camera. I've been doing some research online but most of the info I can find has to do with the issues inherent to the 120S model. The new model, the N series, is out and it supposedly fixes a lot of S's problems. But one answer I can't seem to find anywhere about the switch from the S to the N: Does the appeture switch that doesn't actually do anything on the S series actually work on the N series?
I'm looking at picking up either a 120N or a 120GN. Does anyone have an opinion about whether I should go with the glass lens on the GN or stick with the standard plastic N lens? I'm worried that the glass lens will be too "good" and not "Holga" enough.
Lastly, I've never worked with 120mm before. I live in Toronto, so finding film and processing won't be a problem. But what am I going to be paying for film and processing? It looks like $3-5 a roll for 120 film. That gets me 12-16 shots? What's a good price point for getting 120 film processed and developed?
posted by thecjm to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Plastic! I can't see why you would want a glass lens if you're going Holga - one of the main reasons for even having a Holga is to get the toy camera blur and soft focus, and the plastic lens is a huge part of that.

I live in PA USA and pay about 2.50 to get negatives, and about 5.50 to get negatives and 5 X 5 prints. I get prints (or you can have them put on a CD) because my scanner does a lousy job of scanning color negs, but I can scan b&w myself, so I don't need to get prints for those. There are many tutorials online explaining how to develop b&w film yourself, which would save you a lot of trouble, if you're into that. I order all my film online from b & h, and I pay about 1.99 - 2.99 a roll for their various Fujis and Illfords - 120 print film is great, as is 120 slide film. The films I buy all get 16 shots to the roll. Here are some of my shots if you want to see what fuji film scanned from a 5 X 5 print looks like.
posted by iconomy at 8:23 AM on August 27, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's the way to go. Spend the extra $10-$20 bucks, support Randy, and get a Holga that you won't have to fight with. You'll get two apertures, a nice flat black interior, and tight film feed/take-up.

As for the glass lens, it's a shot in the dark. I've seen awesomely sharp shots with a plastic lens, and soft shots with the glass lens. Neither material is a promise of anything. Like everything else with the Holga, what you get is a crapshoot.

As for processing - how many rolls do you go through in a month? It might be worth to starting doing your processing, if you're not deathly afraid of the chemicals, or anything. It's nice to be able to process on your schedule, but there's definitely a price-point at which it's viable.

If you choose not to go that route, you shouldn't pay more than $3 or so for processing.

On preview, I'm saying much the same as Iconomy. But really, it boils down to this - you shouldn't worry about it this much. For real. Just buy a Holga. If you don't like that particular one, ebay the first one and buy another. Or buy a Diana.

One last thing - You should definitely start out with b/w, just to get a feel for what'll make a good exposure, but once you know what you can get away with, go nuts. If the daylight is strong enough, I use an orange filter, and if it's really sunny, I throw in a roll of Velvia 100. Let me just say, having 6x6cm slides is pretty damn cool.
posted by god hates math at 8:36 AM on August 27, 2006

yeah, holgamods all the way, holgamods is the way to go. then you'll worry about your images, not about the Holga

Like everything else with the Holga, what you get is a crapshoot.

"crapshot" is more precise
posted by matteo at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2006

and iconomy has a point, stick with plastic. if you really need aglass, you don't want a Holga anyway. and try crossprocessing slide film, it's fun
posted by matteo at 8:45 AM on August 27, 2006

Response by poster: I saw the holgamods site, but it seems that he's still working on S series Holgas, and a lot of the mods that he makes (tripod mount, "b" mode shutter release, etc) have been added as standard features to the N series which is why I was askingabout the N's.
posted by thecjm at 8:48 AM on August 27, 2006

Here are two sites I found invaluable for the little tips they shared. I bought a Holga unmodded, and got to do all the fun stuff myself. Mine's an S, by the way. I like the simplicity.
posted by iconomy at 8:55 AM on August 27, 2006

$5.50 for negs and prints?! Wow. I stopped shooting with my Holga so much because the cheapest place I found in NYC was double that, including student discount [and most places it was more than triple].

I stopped shooting b/w because the color shift and distortions were more intense. Try both. B/W has the prestige of being more artsy, but I found just the opposite with the Holga.
posted by yeti at 10:19 AM on August 27, 2006

A WOCA is just a Holga pretending to be a real camera. With the WOCA's you'll get less vignetting and the edges will be a bit more blurry. At the end of the day with either camera the sharpness factor is going to be a crap shoot since they're both single element lenses.

Does the apertures switch that doesn't actually do anything on the S series actually work on the N series?

I know the initial WOCA model didn't and I'm pretty sure the GN doesn't either, if you really want to know you could ask someone who owns the 120GN. But to be honest it isn't hard to add a second aperture if it is absent and there are a bunch of tutorials out there on how to do it.

Price of film is going to depend on where you get it and what brand you choose, freestyle photo has Arista 120 which comes in at less than $2 a roll and there's also Efke, Forte, Foma etc I find Ilford is the most expensive. You can also use 220 film but unlike 120, 220 doesn't have a paper backing so you'll need to make the counter window light light and count clicks on the film advance knob.

I'm worried that the glass lens will be too "good" and not "Holga" enough.

Hell my plastic 120S isn't Holga enough (too sharp for my liking) but that is easily remedied by using crumpled saran wrap, cellophane or a cheap soft focus filter in the front of the lens.
posted by squeak at 11:40 AM on August 27, 2006

I saw the holgamods site, but it seems that he's still working on S series Holgas

Erm - says right on the front page that Randy's modifying the 120N these days:

"I'll be modifying the Holga 120N now instead of the Holga 120S. It seems I caused the Holga factory to take notice. It's been some time now since he factory decided to phase out the 120S in order to bring the new 120N to market. Seems they liked what I did enough to copy my mods."

Same page also answers your question about the bulb mod on the 120N.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:37 PM on August 27, 2006

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