Are you thinking about buying a Holga? What about a TLR camera? You might want to read about my first experience of using either and both, through the Holga TLR camera!
Just under two weeks ago the Holga TLR (in sports car red) arrived at my door. I chose red, because, I can’t help myself when it comes to its ‘flashy’ color.
As a first time user of a Holga camera, and also a first time user of a TLR camera, I had no idea what to expect. But since I’m game for a challenge, I chose both rather than following the normal recommendation of a basic Holga N or CFN.
I won’t dwell too long on the things everyone expects from a Holga; the usual bullet focus and wild vignetting are all there. What did surprise me about my recent model was how it was quite robust. There are no evident light leaks (feel free to disagree looking at the pictures, but I’ll explain my theory in a moment), film wound tight, the back is firmly kept on by the metal clips. I did have to bend one a little to tighten it, but the camera feels like you could play soccer with it and it would survive. Time will tell.
My first major surprise, something that users of TLRs will of course know, is that the viewfinder reverses what you see — move the camera left and the view seems to go right, and vice versa! This is initially confusing, and I hate to say it, but after practicing I was not getting any better at it — woe was me!
Here’s a tip: I have discovered how to get around this. With a regular viewfinder, you move the camera as an extension of your face, your eyes. With a TLR camera, you should move your body around like a pinion, and keep the camera still. Once you start doing this everything flows nicely.
Onto the lomographs! Any new tool requires practice so I fed the Holga some quality Kodak Ektacolor Pro160 film and shot around the garden, house and local park. I played around with impunity, resisting the urge to take technical practice shots.
I used the colour flash (cross processing — without cross processing!):
Turned it off:
Got in close:
And tried the shot from the hip (which with a TLR, sort of goes without saying!):
I wouldn’t say I had any award winners, but I was pleasantly surprised at how well everything came out! One of my favorite things about the Holga bullet focus is the way it can frame a portrait. This camera doesn’t disappoint!
After a week and some practice, I was flying:
Above I mentioned that there were no evident light leaks. The images above definitely show something resembling a light leak. Are those the classic red streaks? In this case I don’t think it is — those streaks are round, curved. My Holga is red. In these shots the camera has the sun on my left, and the red is reflecting from the lens side into the glass! So bare this in mind if you choose a colour. I’d be keen to see if anyone else with a coloured Holga has experienced anything similar? Anyone?
Pros: a great lightweight, solid, cheap, easy to use camera, brilliant shots without having to think, colourflash built in is massive fun.
Cons: Difficult to use the viewfinder, takes lots of practice, coloured case can colour the photos.