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My Holga 120 FN (Holga horribilis)

I explain how I came to love my Holga and how to shoot 35mm film using a 120 camera. If at first you don’t succeed…

Roll 1 – October 2013 – Shot a roll of colour 120 with the shutter speed switch on the bottom of the camera set to “B” bulb mode for the entire roll. All the shots were over exposed and blurry. Despite this the car wreck in the woods has a certain vibrancy and life to it.

Photo by akula

Roll 2 – November 2013 – First successful roll with Holga – Home processed Film – A very nice “Cigar Box Guitar” Photo (accidental light leak during processing) and a “Cat Double Exposure” came out of this roll.

Roll 3 – March 2014 – I screwed up the home processing of the C-41 film – it came out almost blank – not the cameras fault, I think. I scanned a faint image of the A-maze-ing Laughter sculpture, by Chinese artist Yue Minjun off this abused, neglected negative months after I processed the film, I love the result.

Photo by akula

Roll 4 – July 2014 – Decided to switch to 35mm film (about 13 shots on the roll of 24). I cut down two 120 film roll reels with a hack saw and utility knife to make spacers to run 35mm film through the camera (tape over the frame counter window on the back of the camera). It felt like the film was not advancing properly (no tension) so I opened up the camera and inserted a nickel under the take up reel – this did the trick the winder started to catch the film. I found that by turning the film 1½ times it would advance a little more than one frame at a time.

Near the end of the roll I noticed that the camera did not “Click” when I pushed the shutter – I checked the bottom of the camera and realized that I had shot almost the entire roll on bulb mode, AGAIN. I have this switch taped to “N” now. The last photo was shot on “N” mode and turned out great, “A split rail fence and tree along the Fraser River” normally this would have been a boring photo, however light leaks transformed this photo, a bit of Holga magic. All the rest of the shots were over exposed however there was a photo of two horses running, the motion blur makes it look like a pencil crayon drawing.

Roll 5 – August 2014 – 35mm film again – at the Chilliwack Fair, I had the camera finally figured out however scanning negatives with sprocket holes produced bizarre colour shifts – bright blue/green – the solution to this problem is to select a small area of the frame to set the colour balance, then select the whole picture area to include the sprocket holes.

In theory this should be an easy – Point, focus and shoot camera – however… it is so easy to forget:
Camera on “N” mode?
Has the film been advanced to the next frame?
Aperture (Sunny or cloudy)
Focus – this is not a point and shoot camera.
Accidents can give amazing results.
Don’t give up

written by akula


  1. chilledvondub


    I think everyone experiences this with a Holga it's very common to forget about the shutter switch.

    3 months ago · report as spam
  2. philhale


    Discovered the same problem yesterday with my scanner as you mentioned for roll 5 - You're not using a Canon 9000F are you?

    3 months ago · report as spam
  3. akula


    @philhale - I am using the Canon 9000F

    3 months ago · report as spam
  4. wideangle


    Gaffer's tape is your friend.

    I use it on my Holga to secure the N/B switch as well as the aperture setting.

    I strips on all of the seams because I don't want light leaks. I also make a door with gaffer's tape and the end of a 120 film box to cover the red window on the back.

    3 months ago · report as spam