A Short Review of the Holgaroid Back

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I’ve had an original Holgaroid back (the one originally made by Polaroid) for a while now. It’s a great accessory, but unfortunately can only use type 80 film, which is almost impossible to come by these days. Unfortunate, because I like square. I realised that shopping mistake only when it was too late, when I already won the auction. Oh well, it’s still a nice toy to have in your collection, it’s an original! Here’s how the photos taken with it look like, a sample shot using Polaroid Viva film (a great film, by the way).

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Anyhoo, this year I decided I like the combination of Holga and instant film way too much to just leave it be with the Holgaroid back I had. So I went out and bought one of the newer ones, produced by A-Power in Japan, and sold by folks over at The Impossible Project. These are almost sold out, so I went ahead and bought me an early birthday pressie.

I have a lot of expired 664 film left in my fridge, so I went a bit nuts with it, with mixed results. First of all, I’m happy to be able to shoot with Holga and peel apart film again. Black and white film goes really nicely with the Holga I think. I was a bit skeptical at first, because obviously, using a type 100 film with a square format camera like the Holga leaves an unexposed area on the photo, but I figured I can live with that, and it’s really not a big deal. The overall exposure is larger than with a Hasselblad Polaroid back.

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First things to notice: compared to the original it just looks cheap and poorly manufactured. That’s sort of okay, because well, it’s for the Holga, and it’s good enough. Judge for yourself if it’s worth the money though. The original Polaroid back was quite nice that way, it felt sturdy and not cheap, and was just nicely designed for the Holga. The quality just felt really good, it came with a proper dark slide, and it didn’t leak any light. Which isn’t what I can say for this one.

The package already comes with a note from the folks at The Impossible Project, saying that it leaks light. When you take out the dark slide, all bets are off. The note suggests to leave the dark slide in about one fourth of the length, but even that doesn’t help. Depending on the sun’s angle there’s still a lot of light coming in through the side.

I ended up covering the slot with the dark slide instead, which helped in some cases, but I’ll have to figure something out to properly cover it in the long term. I can live with some light leaks, but this is pretty insane. I’d rather have the option of working with or without them as I see fit. Here’s some examples of what you may end up getting as results. The leaks and streaks depend on the sun’s angle as you can probably tell, and sometimes trying to cover the slot with the dark slide doesn’t do anything.

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The back costs somewhere between $150 and $180, which is quite a lot, but I really like the combination, so it’s worth it to me. Also, the ones sold by Freestyle Photo don’t even support type 80 film anymore, but as that’s very hard to come by, that’s probably no big deal.

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6 thoughts on “A Short Review of the Holgaroid Back

  1. I found this very useful! I purely had no idea why there was a dark unexposed part of the picture. When you pull out your polaroid out of the camera, how long do you wait before peeling it apart? I waited 4 minutes, and then 4 and a half minutes and both pictures came out black.

  2. If all the pictures turn out black, that’s probably not related to development. Either you forgot to take out the dark slide, or you took pictures in a took dark environment. That’s my guess at least.

    Development time depends on the temperature. If it’s warm enough, it shouldn’t take longer than 90 seconds.

  3. Nice review. I’ve been thinking about picking up a modified Holgaroid from Holgamods. He alters the back so that the square image is centered on the type 100 film sheet, rather than to one side. I haven’t heard of any problems with light leaks for the modified Holgaroids, but will have to check in to it before purchase. Like you, I would rather have some control over when I get the light leaks.

    @ Isabel – The Polaroid pull apart films (which you can only get expired, if you can find them at all) generally take about 60 seconds for development, adjusting up or down with temperature. The Fuji type 100 pack films (which are still being made by Fuji, color and black and white) are self-terminating, so it takes a lot of the guesswork out of when to peal – just leave it for a few minutes and you will be fine. I have even waited until coming back from shooting to peal my shots, which was a couple of hours later, and everything was fine. The Fuji is good stuff.

  4. Hi there. I just scored two packs of 664 so I dug around in my boxes of junk and found an original polaroid holga back. What was your issue with these backs?

    I believe they made a second version that increased the print size? OS this part of your issues? The original wasted too much film space?

    Any thoughts on the matter appreciated!

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