A Short Review of the Holgaroid Back


I’ve had an original Holgaroid back (the one originally made by Polaroid) for a while now.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).


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.


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.


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.


Analogue Daydreams

I was recently interviewed about the Holga by Jim Elson, an Australian exchange student. The result is a nice and short movie about people shooting Holga, showing them in action in a winter-y Berlin. To give you an idea, it was about -20 degrees Celsius when I was filmed. The Holga held up great, look ma, no batteries! Anyway, enough blabber, check out “Analogue Daydreams – The art of Holga photography.”

Analogue Daydreams – The art of Holga photography from Jim Elson on Vimeo.

Oh, and here’s Jim:


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.

Holga Wallpaper

Don’t you just love the focussing symbols on the Holga’s lens? I sure do. In fact, I love their simplicity so much, I used them in a recent presentation. I didn’t find a really reasonable base to work with, so I used one that was close enough to what I wanted, one that Greg Lawler made to offer t-shirts. You should totally buy one.

I didn’t stop there, but made a very simple wallpaper out of it, so I thought I’d spread the joy.

Screen shot 2009-09-28 at 21.07.37

It’s a really simple one, but I like simple wallpapers that don’t distract too much. So here you go. The resolution is 1920×1200 but you can stretch or scale it up and down however you want, I’m sure. Should you need a different resolution, let me know. Credits to Greg for making the turning the figures into something I could use.

Enjoy! Who said I’m not crafty, eh?

So What Does This Mean?

It seems I can now call myself something of a published photographer. Kind of a scary though, if you ask me, but what are you gonna do. Some of my Holga shots have seen the public face over the weekend, and I’m a bit excited about it.

But where to start. The German weekly news magazine “Der Spiegel” also runs a well-visited website “Spiegel Online.” They’re running an ongoing series of articles on analog photography, and called for submissions of all kinds of lo-fi photos. So I took my chances and submitted two Holga shots from last year’s trip to Canada, and what do you know, they published them along with an article on the history of the Holga. It’s all in German, so sorry to you English speakers. You can still check out the gallery though. There’s some really good stuff in there, I especially like all the double exposures.

Not only did they publish it, they put Lori and her yellow boots on their front page. You can [still see it(http://www.spiegel.de/) when you scroll down, but yesterday it was in the top part of the page, here’s proof (click screenshot for full page capture).


Friends of mine just finished another issue of their magazine “rausch”, and they were looking for photos themed “dare.” I had just the photo for them, taken last year in Bergen, featuring my good friend Astrid. Of course this was more of a helping friends thing, but still. Nice to see the photo printed in the middle of a magazine people can buy at the newsstand.


I’m still not sure what all this means, but maybe I’ll figure it out one day. Good start for the new week anyway, if you ask me. Hope you have a great one.