TLR: these 3 magic letters are immediately very seducing for every Lomographer. Lubitel, Rolleiflex, Voigtländer, Yashica… all these camera brands have produced among the best TLR cameras ever, but they can be kind of expensive sometimes.
So, if you’re a bit frustrated about this, if you’ve never experienced shooting by viewing your subject from the top down to the camera and are dreaming every night to have a TLR in your hands, here’s a fantastic little plastic camera to begin your apprenticeship of TLR cameras: the Holga 135BC TLR!
First of all, let’s say one thing: if this camera is named TLR, it is not exactly a real Twin Lens Reflex camera. The viewing lens is really just a fixed viewing lens and you can’t focus with it as it’s not related to the shooting lens (unlike the “real” TLR’s where the 2 lenses are related for focusing). But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have the fun and joy to shoot in the true spirit of TLR!
Everyone who already had the chance to shoot with a TLR camera knows how it is different to compose pictures when looking down to the camera and not directly at your subject. Holding the camera at chest level, or at the hip level, being concentrated on the image you can see in the little top window of your camera, well that changes everything in the shooting. Your point of view isn’t the same anymore, you feel more free to compose your picture, and aren’t staring at your subject.
The Holga 135BC TLR allows all these feelings while shooting: the viewing window is clear and big enough to compose your shots, and for more precision, you have the rectangular frame of the picture inside the viewing glass and a little circle inside it too. This little circle, not exactly in the middle of the rectangular frame, shows you where the center of the image will be when you’re shooting close. In other words, it’s a kind of parallax correction, as the viewing lens is above the shooting lens, and for close-up shots this makes a little modification between what you frame and what the shooting lens takes on the film… You can also shoot easily from the ground or in vertical mode by turning the camera and having the viewing lens on your left or right side, or even hold the camera upside down above your head…. not always easy to frame like that, but it’s still ok!
But shooting in TLR mood is not the only joy with this camera! There are these 2 other letters “BC”, and this stands for Black Corner. Indeed, this camera can produce pictures with a great vignetting effect. It’s not the kind of “natural/optical” vignetting the LC-A camera can produce because in fact, there’s a little plastic mask inside the camera, just in front of the film, which darkens the corners of the camera.
Besides this, there’s of course the great plastic Holga 47mm lens with it’s nice and soft touch we all like so much. The Holga 135, like his 120 sister, has these nice little icons on the lens barrel (1m/2m/6m/10m), 2 f-settings (f8 and f11), shoots at 1/100s speed and has also a “B” setting with tripod mount and a cable release thread for long exposure shooting.
As the shutter and the film advance knob aren’t related, you can have as much fun as you want for double exposures, overlapping holgarama shots or whatever you like to create on a 35 mm film! And if you already have some additional Holga lenses (fisheye, wide angle, close-up or macro lens set) they fit as well on the Holga 135 as on the Holga 120 for endless optical experimentations.