The Littlest Holga Visits North Yorkshire

  Ilford FP4 PLUS
  Lomography Holga 120 N

Back in the middle of September I received a private message on Twitter telling me it was now my turn to spend time with the littlest Holga. The legendary plastic camera that was winding its way around the globe, spending a few weeks here and a few weeks there, before making its way to its next temporary guardian.

The Camera

Known for its quality, the Holga has been the go-to camera for no one. The super sharp imitation lens in the front of the camera is there only to enhance the appearance of the camera, and the image on the emulsion somewhat a secondary function along with the light which enters the camera from the back door or cracks in the case. This was no ordinary Holga, this was the Holga 120 N!

Film Choice

I’m not precious over film choice. I’d go so far to say that most branded film is good enough for my needs. I do try and use good quality film when using my SLR (Canon 30V Date), but for the Holga I did order some specifically for it. I chose Ilford HP5 in the hope that the 400iso would allow the small aperture to give enough light during the exposure. I do feel that the quality of HP5 is wasted on the Holga, so it was certainly not the weakest link in the photo quality chain.

Using the Camera

First is loading the camera. Probably one of the more straightforward tasks. However I have never had to wind a film forward in a hi-tech camera before where you are looking through an aperture on the rear door looking for the frame number. After what felt like winding on miles and miles of film, a number ‘2’ appeared in the window. Clearly I had missed frame number 1. I did a mental calculation in my head as to how much money I had just wasted with my enthusiastic winding. P.S. about 42p.

Use of the camera is like most cameras, with wind-on, focus, aperture selection and shutter operation. The aperture is simply cloudy f8 or sunny f11, focus is allegedly from 1m to infinity and there is simple shutter operation. It is possible to operate the shutter with a fixed shutter speed as many times as you wish for each exposure. This is handy for multiple exposures, something I have never done but was keen to have a go at.


Development was carried out using using Tetenal Paranol S, and following the development guide instructions. No push, no pull. I am impressed enough that I can get any image on the negatives, let alone without making it fancy.

The Results

In my opinion, It’s clear that my results fall short of others using the Holga camera, but that’s ok. I never expected to get results suitable for any kind of publishing, so I was hardly disappointed. What this camera did give me was the opportunity to try something different without expectation. Images from modern digital cameras are almost perfect these days with respect to sharpness and exposure, so it was refreshing to experiment completely, and embrace the quirks and features of the Holga. I did use the multiple exposure facility, but also managed not to do a multiple exposure by accident! Somewhat surprising as you can see from the gallery below, focusing was hit and miss, if I remembered to focus at all!

What I enjoyed about this was not being hung up on trying to achieve the perfect picture. Sure I wanted to do the best I could, but this was all about the photography process from beginning to end, rather than the results. I can wholly recommend having a go with a Holga ….

I have a further two rolls to share … watch this space!

Other Littlest Holga Links

The Littlest Holga @ Twitter
A week with the Littlest Holga by Andrew Bartram
The Littlest Holga loves Slide film … part 4 by Tim Dobbs

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