Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holga 120GN: A Review

I've been thinking of going back to shooting 120 films for some time now. Regrettably I've sold off the Yashica Mat that I had earlier. So recently I bought the Holga 120GN from Holgadirect, took a couple of weeks and costed just RM127. Now you don't expect much from images taken from a holga, it's never going to be as sharp or technically accurate as the DSLRs, but that's the point. It's unpredictable, sometimes you get really good fun images and sometimes it's just mediocre. What I wasn't expecting when the package arrived was that it was cosmetically...well, mediocre.

I definitely got a used unit from, the hot shoe had been scratched, there was dust all over indicating that it's probably a display unit, and the sticker on the film advance knob is almost brown and peeling off. A quick check online showed that my model is older than 2009, all new models have the tripod mount more central, mine is the one that's to the side. I'm a bit peeved by this, but after some discussion with Wee Siang, decided that it's not worth taking it up with holgadirect. I decided to give it a test and if the results are ok, then keep it. But here's a warning to those who are planning to get from them, if you are particular about these kind of things, make sure you get them to confirm they are sending you a new unit and not one that is used. They're cheap, but I'll definitely think twice before getting anything from them again.

Anyway on to the review of the camera...why I've decided to try 120 film is that sometimes I feel the 36 exposures from the 135 format is a bit too much. If I have a day out with the family, 12 exposures is just nice. I can limit myself to taking just 12 meaningful shots through the whole day instead of always having the feeling to burn through 36 just to get it developed.

I've also added a mask to it, to get the jagged edges around the frames. All images are shot with the Fuji Pro 400H.
First shot I took, long exposure.

I don't really like zone focus cameras, but it's a good tool to learn how to estimate distances

You can see the distortion from this shot, look at the staircase

Again, the distortion, but I love this pic anyway

I love shooting with this camera. It's so light! But that said, I was shooting with it yesterday and the whole back fell off exposing the film...I haven't finished that roll yet so I don't know how it will turn out. The latch at the sides must have slid off when it was in my bag. Light yes, flimsy yes, but results are great! The centre is sharp and the edges blurry.

Should you get this camera? Definitely. You have to be aware of the limitations though, with the fastest aperture at f/8 you are going to need a fast film indoors coupled with a flash. That's the reason I opted for a model with a hot shoe, the CFN model has a flash but it's not very powerful. With your own flash unit, you have more options, bounce flash, off camera flash and what not. This camera comes very highly recommended from me, and will be with me on my January trip to my friend's wedding.

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