This article will guide you through a step-by-step instruction on how to mod a Holga to take 35mm film instead of 120mm film. Holga cameras are a part of the Lomography group, an analogue camera movement. The Holga can produce washed out, colour-crazed images with an aged quality that digital photography cannot supply. Holga cameras normally take 120mm film, which unfortunately in this day and age, can be quite expensive to buy and develop. Modding the camera to fit 35mm film will not only reduce your costs in experimenting with analogue, but it can be fun and challenging with varying end results!
Check out the guide, and if you give it a go, send your images to firstname.lastname@example.org to be published in next month’s issue!
You will need: Masking/duct/insulation tape/scissors/your choice of 35mm film
Remove the back of the camera and take the advancing spool out of the camera.
Line up the top row of sprockets on the film with the edge of the third hole on the spool. This ensures the film is relatively central when you come to shoot. Stick firmly in place with masking or insulation tape. Don’t be shy with it ensure that the negative is firmly attached to the spool and itself so it doesn’t slip when you are advancing.
Roll a small piece of insulation tape back on itself to create a two cylinders.
Press the two cylinders firmly between the wall of your camera and the film casing. This also helps to keep the film in place so the stronger the tape the better at this stage.
Place the advancing spool back in its compartment and advance just enough to see that the film is lying flat against the window mask. You can take this out if you wish to expose your film beyond the sprocket holes for that Lomography feel.
Place the back firmly on the camera. Make sure that there are no stray pieces of tape wedged between the casing of the Holga and the back of the camera as this may let light in (or give it a try, be creative!) Use duct/insulation tape as required to stop any unwanted light creeping in to your exposed film.
Note – I advise sticking tape around the areas where the camera back meets the casing of itself, and also around the viewfinder (as commonly these places tend to let a little light bleed in.) This is another entirely different story and maybe I will get in to the ethics of low cost manufacturing an entirely plastic camera at a later date.
Prior to shooting, advance the film for around two full turns so that any film that is exposed to light in the loading process is not interfering with your image making. Remember, you cannot see how many shots you have left so be frugal with your photographs. You will know when you reach the end of the film because the last shot is more difficult to advance and if you try too hard you risk snapping the film.
Now is the time to find a light safe environment to manually wind the film back in to the casing from whence it came. Here are some examples of sneaky light proof places that work, if you don’t have access to a lovely darkroom. (Bathrooms with no windows, under my jacket sat in my car, and even the rear loading compartment of an LDV convoy.)
Here are two examples of my own photographs shot with my holga in 35mm.
Be Daring and overall have fun with your experiences, happy shooting!
Written By James Dexter