Dont want a Holga
Hi there, i'm new to medium format - having just acquired an excellent Rolleicord Va & Weston Master V (guess you could say I prefer the 'batteries not included' approach. Anyhow whilst researching into MF I discovered the 'Holga' and its massive fanbase. Whilst I was in awe of some of the pics produced & would like to attempt that style of photography I am rather daunted by the complete lack of control. My question to you therefore is: can I produce similar pictures whilst having more control over the camera ?
I have read occasional posts recommending the use of very old folders with poor quality lenses so that shutter speed/ aperture is still controllable - can anyone recommend one such camera (not too expensive) and where one can easily be found.
Thanks - Mathew
you can try doing it at the printing stage using selective diffusion and heavily burning the edges to vignette, or stack some filters on the end of your camera lens and selectively grease one of them with some vaseline leaving a sweet spot roughly in the middle, but if I were you, I wouldnt worry about the holga inflexibility. You can still control film speed and by using a compensating developer, you can get reasonably reliable results.
I worte this piece for toycamera.com regarding this matter
Put a couple of UV-filters in front the lens to make the corners dark and experiement with filter with grease on to make the image blur.
Any old folder will do. They all have lenses which are good from f:11, but the cheaper ones are soft at full opening. I have an old Perkeo I which is wondrously soft at f:5.6, wondrously sharp at f:16...
Listen to the Lion. I mean, Leon. He is a font of tech meets toy camera wisdom. But I will chime in that the Holga is excellent when put in the right position. I don't break mine out for certain subjects. Generally, I have a couple of plastic cameras on hand and then a rolleiflex, or horizon, or 35mm just to account for various situations. Hoping not to miss something just b/c I like the cheap cameras.
Use the advice offered by the other APUG members but also be sure to try to use without emulating a Holga. It is easier and you may find that you like the reults it gives you even more.
Enjoy your new camera.
Another option is to get a Lubitel -- the 166B and 166 Universal give images slightly less distorted, fuzzy, and vignetted than a 6x6 converted Holga (very comparable to a Woca, actually), but have focusing and full control of aperture and shutter (within their limits). They also aren't (as) prone to light leaks, but they're still plastic.
I found a couple of Agfa Isolette folders on ebay quite cheaply [under fifty USD]. Medium format for the back pocket of your jeans. The focus is based on the guess system, but I got the hang of that quickly enough.
I've also got an Agfa Isola, a fifties model point and shoot MF, considered a toy camera as is the Holga, but far better build quality and no light leaks.
I've got a Lubitel 166 and like it, but I collect Russian cameras so I'm biased.
Keep us posted as your adventure in MF unfolds.
I was going to suggest an Isolette I as well. I picked up the cheapest model, with an Agnar 85mm f:4.5 (stops down to f:32) and a Vario shutter (speeds of 1/200, 1/25, 1/50, or B) yesterday. Jurgen Kreckel in Pennsylvania works on these, and informs me that this cheapest version still has a good lens and that the Vario shutter stays accurate because it has so few moving parts. I picked mine up yesterday for well under $10. Can't say exactly, as I got it with a very clean 6x7 color enlarger and 75mm enlarging lens for just over $30.
I don't know how Holga-like the lens is yet. I have negatives nearly dry as I type. Jurgen says to expect it to perform pretty well. Add about 12mm to the height of a Bessa L 35mm body and you have the size of the folded Isolette. It also has a nice set of marks for hyperfocal distance and for 8ft-through-16ft focus for fast pre-focus shooting, and a good DOF scale. Focus scale down to 3 ft. (Mine's a US market version, no metric distance scale.)
You have to expect pinholes in the Isolette bellows, which you can either patch yourself or have replaced. Mine has a couple of very small ones at a seam. If my negs look good, I'll have the bellows replaced and a CLA, and this camera will fit in a pocket or a corner of the camera bag and go for another 50 years.
Info on Isolettes at: www.certo6.com
Fits the "not-a-Holga" and "more control" requirements.
great article Leon. Thanks for writing it and for posting the link again.