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As a professional photographer, who shoots digital, it's nice to throw away the rule book and chuck a film into my Holga. Made almost solely out of plastic, and with two settings for exposure and 4 for focusing this is raw photography with a good dollop of chance thrown into the mix. Holgas are notorious for vignetting and leaking light, but that is all part of their charm. With digital and modern cameras it's so easy to get the perfect exposure, it makes a refreshing change to just forget all that and see what comes out. It may help to have an understanding of photography, to increase your chances of getting the exposure correct, but it's so simple anyone could use it. (In fact I believe it says toy camera on the box) Disadvantages are that when you're using film it's increasingly more expensive to buy and get the film developed. (But this will be much cheaper using 35mm film as opposed to the original 120 Holga) Also you have to be prepared that the images will not look perfect, and may not even come out at all. But, if you wanted nice clean, perfectly exposed images you wouldn't be buying a holga!
The Holga 135bc was my first toy camera.
Inspired by the lo-fi look of photography, which I find very attractive and unique, I have since dabbled in polaroids and throw away cameras but now have got my hands on the Holga 135bc, a popular choice in the lo-fi camera range.
Before I explain the features and such, it is definetely worth noting that this lo-fi toy camera style of photography is supposed to be low fidelity. Whereas popular photography today is taken on digital compact cameras, usually rated on amount of megapixels to give perfect detail, the toy camera in today's society is an aversion of this high detail style of photography.
The beauty in the photo comes from how grainy, how old school, the light leaks and other 'errors' which really do make it something special.
So onto the camera itself...
My Holga is white in the body with black details such as the focusing knob and buttons. It is odd to go back to looking through the view hole in the top to take a picture, something which I have not done since the 90s!
The main lens has a rotating knob which you can adjust the focus with. There is a guide on the body which indicates how far to turn it for an upclose shot or really far away. Judging by the extreme basicness of the camera, it doesn't really make much of a difference and anything out of a 10 meter range will be completely out of focus anyway.
There is also another night and day switch at the bottom which also doesn't really make any difference either!
The shutter release is a large button at the top with a screw shape going into it. It does not make a particular noise or sound when it takes a picture, so i will sound the same whether you have wound it on and are taking an actual picture, and when you have not wound it on. So make sure you do wind on the film to take a picture as you will not be notified if you havent actually taken a picture.
The winder is underneath the shutter release and is pretty standard.
I would advise experimenting a lot with different films and such to get used to this camera. It is pretty unforgiving when it comes to focusing and lighting, especially when you are used to cameras which auto adjust like nearly all digital ones do today. Ones I have found useful are Ilford Black and White XP2 super 400 36 exp. Also I have experimented with some pretty standard multi pack colour kodak films at 400 exposure which turned out fine.
To insert film, pull up the little handle on the top of the camera which isn't the shutter release button and pull up till the back clicks open. Just lay the film cartridge left hand of the partition and click into place. Pull the film out till it is in line with the end of the camera on the right hand side, and feed through the turnstile and wind the winder round till the film catches on the kogs which turn it round. Close the back up tightly and dont open again. Keep turning the dial till you see in the little screen the number 1 appear. You may need to take a picture to start the film. Wind on.
I would thoroughly reccomend this camera to anyone interested in the beinifits of low fidelity photography as it is very beautiful.
This model is a lot easier than its popular predecessor the holga 120 which takes a particular square style 120 film which you need a lot of darkroom equipment to develop.
In the quick ratings i have rated it lowly for quality/ processing and features simply because it has little features and the quality of film is low. This is not a disadvantage but part of the beauty of the product.
I got mine on ebay for around £30.
Holgarama sell it for 39.99
Lomography sell it for £44 plus p&p, but they are a rip off.