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My Holga Modifications

It is tradition for Holga users to do some modifications or Mods to their cameras. I have two Holgas, one is fairly standard, the other has been modified to focus to two feet. The usual close focus is three feet.

The most common mod is to file the plastic insert which is 6×4.5 cm to 6×6 cm for the cool square format. I’ve got both and like to shoot both ways. When I’m feeling rebelious I shoot with the 6×4.5 insert because according to Holga lore, the only real way to shoot with a Holga is square so you can see the lens fall off in the corners of the picture, since the lens won’t cover the full 6×6. I do like the square but I haven’t taken the time to make it perfectly smooth, so once in a while I get a hairline scratch running the entire length of the roll of film–kind of a drag. You can buy square inserts, but then you’d probably get straight edges too. And there’s nothing funner than cutting hard plastic with a super sharp mat knife.

My main Holga gets a nasty light leak that bugs me if it gets too bad, but I haven’t fixed that either (update: I have fixed it! I put another piece of velcro along the bottom edge (update to the update: I quit using it, it’s retired–I could never completely fix the light leak)).

I crudely tape black felt over the red square in the back where you watch the film advance. The word is, if you don’t do it you’ll get light leaks. I haven’t shot without it, so it might be an old wives tale. There’s also warnings about loading the camera in the shade or using a changing bag–yeah right. I’ve loaded film in the midday summer sun in southern Texas and there were no catastrophic failures to mention.

What else, oh yes, the important locking system for the back of the camera–velcro. A few strips along the bottom is all I’ve needed to keep the back from flying off. The camera comes stock with some cheezy little metal pieces on the sides that slide up and down to hold the back on–it’s an engineering marvel. As you can see one of my cameras doesn’t have velcro to secure the back, that is because I like to live on the wild side. And don’t use electrical tape to hold the back on or to seal light leaks. The tape leaves glue residue on the outside of the camera and it’s a pain to take off to take the film off.

Of course there is no lens cap or filter to protect the lens. Why would one want to protect a plastic lens whose main draw is the screwy pictures it takes.

One modification that I plan on making, but just haven’t, is to Superglue a bolt to the bottom of the camera. This will act as a tripod receptacle.¬†Warning:¬†Unless you have a good sense of humor don’t try gluing a bolt to the bottom of the camera–it probably won’t stay on. Or at least mine didn’t. The bolt came off the camera and the camera fell to the ground and of course, the back jumped off the camera exposing my film to the daylight sun. Holgas with tripod mounts are now being made so you don’t have to screw around with this bad idea.

I think the thing that I marvel at the most with these cameras is their ability to take good pictures in a wide variety of light. There is an aperture control, that has a sunny picture or a cloudy picture. I have religiously used this as my light meter and the vast majority of my pictures have had excellent exposure (Update: I now know that this does nothing to the size of the aperture, which is even more puzzling).

Oh and last but not least, you have to take a couple pieces of pieces of cardboard from your film box and fold them up and wedge them in between the camera wall and the roll of film and do the same with the take up real. Otherwise the film will be super loose. The way it is, it is still pretty loose. Check out some of my square pictures, notice how lines that should be straight are curved? That’s because the film isn’t flat inside the camera.

If you’re thinking about getting a Holga, you should get two or more because each camera takes different pictures–they’re like fingerprints. The lenses are different on each camera. Sometimes the lenses are too good. The lens on my camera with the fried shutter is quite sharp. I’m pretty amazed at the detail that camera can get.