Put Some Black & White Film in Your Holga

The standard recommendation for the seems to be to stuff some good 400 speed color negative film in it. While that’s all good and fun, looking back I’m still wondering why that Lomography Holga package I got for Christmas came with a roll of 100 speed Fuji Reala.

Anyway, it’s all autumn and almost winter over here, and color film doesn’t really capture anything nice, because let’s face it, there’s not much color out there at the moment. Unless you’re living in Australia of course. Black & white film to the rescue!

World Toy Camera Day

I wasn’t really much of a fan of black & white film when I started shooting film. Not because I’m a big fan of popping lomographic colors, I just happened to shoot a lot when the sun was out.

Obviously at some point you want to shoot when it’s all grey outside as well, and the simple solution is to just shoot black & white film. While my wife still doesn’t really like it, I’ve grown quite fond of it over the course of this year. It’s a lot more flexible when it comes to over- and underexposure, and you can push and pull as much as you like. Of course it’s also easy to develop yourself, but I’m not quite there yet.

World Toy Camera Day

You’ll be surprised how many different types of black & white film there are, I know I was. There’s Fuji’s Neopan, Kodak TMAX, Tri-X, ADOX, Efke, Fomapan, Rollei Retro, Agfa APX, Ilford, and many more. Oh wait, and there’s infrared film!

Black & white film and the Holga are an amazingly great match. The vignette and the plastic lens’ dreaminess add something magical to the bleakness of autumn and winter. A stark landscape or urban life can become interesting again when they’re reduced solely to black, white and the grey contrasts in between.

World Toy Camera Day

Of course, if just shooting black & white isn’t enough for you, throw in some filters with e.g. the Cokin filter hack for the Holga. I have a set waiting, including an infrared filter. If only I could bring myself to finally try it out.

If you want to shoot on a rainy day, black & white film is just for you. I recently loaded some Neopan 1600 in my Nikon and loved it. Shame it’s not available in 120 format, but hey, you can just get a Neopan 400 and push it to 1600. Grainy awesomeness. Ilford 3200 is also worth trying, although my lab’s development price for it was inexplicably high. I’ll shoot it again when I have the facilities to develop it myself.

World Toy Camera Day

Even though the label says black & white, every film is slightly different. Some have more intense contrast, some will have a bit more washed-out blacks, others have an insanely good grain, while some are just about giving you as much detail as possible. There’s 25 speed films from ADOX, and cheap film like Efke and Fomapan (still good films I’ll have you know).

Go ahead, buy some and shoot it. You need to look a bit more for contrast instead of color, but it’s totally worth it. After all, film photography is a lot about experimenting with the different films, at least for me.

World Toy Camera Day

All of the shots were taken on World Toy Camera Day, when it was rather grey and a bit rainy outside. The film totally made up for that.


6 thoughts on “Put Some Black & White Film in Your Holga

  1. You got some really good shots! I especially like the first three. And I agree with you on the black and white film… I love it. I still haven’t tried out all of the ones that are available though!

  2. Great stuff, Matt. I am headed out to shoot some b/w in the desert tomorrow, and you just made me even more excited than I already was. Have a great weekend!

  3. i bought a kodaktmax400 because they had no ilford ( I was in bosnia, in a very small village) and actually I really liked it.it was full summer. i’m shoting with a rollei retro right now and i’m going to develop it myself next week, let’s see. 3200 scares me a little- but, as you said, when everything is so grey out there.. 🙂

  4. oh i’m just crazy about the b&w film, especially the ilford delta 3200. in fact, i’m off down to seattle for the weekend for 3200 evening with molly and a large pizza- i can’t wait!

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