Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Through a Glass, Brightly



The Holga is a cheap plastic camera, noted for its random behavior- light streaks, overlaps, poor exposure and focus- high tech it isn't. It does have a certain cachet and is popular with young people (if only for a roll or two.) Its popularity has grown slowly over the last few years, keeping roll film manufacturers alive and confounding photo-lab technicians whose automated equipment refuses to respect the free form formatting of the images that result from its nonchalant design.

I met a Holga adherent last week-end, selling prints at an art fair. The images were lively, fun and colorful- nothing earth-shattering, but pleasantly ambiguous. I joked about her being a "Holga Girl" as if it were a secret cult. While talking, I thought back to all the cameras I've had over the years (many dozen) and all the formats: 35mm (full frame, half frame, stereo, Nimslo) 4x5, 120, 220, 116, 616, 620, 127, 118, 110, 126, 828, Autographic, 8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm and all the styles: Box, folding, rangefinder, SLR, point and shoot, Polaroid, view, pinhole, movie and now digital. While I've never owned a Holga, I have had a Diana- the Holga's inspiration, and quite possibly the worst camera ever manufactured.

I'm trying to cut down, I've got two digital compacts, and a Digital Single lens reflex. I might jettison the DSLR, I find the compacts to be so much handier, and their image quality (and software) has improved enough that I find that there aren't many times that I really must have the big camera.

And a cute little camera gets more smiles from its subjects than than a big old monster-zoom DSLR ever could:

By Professor Batty



8 Comments:

Blogger Jono said...

Wow Batty, I just sold off the last of my 35mm equipment (for peanuts) and am putting some money together for a DSLR. My little digital is handy, but the Cooker seems to keep it for herself forcing me into a solution. I've been trying to take pictures even longer than I have been trying to play guitar.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

Good luck! I've got a Pentax, it's OK but not a lot of fun, most of the DSLR's are too complicated for a simpleton like me. I usually use manual mode anyway, old habits are hard to break. Most of the pictures on this site were shot with my Samsungs- my old one is a NV10, one of the first 10 megapixel subcompacts. I use a Samsung TL500 now, because it has a faster and wider zoom, although it is a bit bigger- jacket pocket size, not pants pocket size like the NV10. The Pentax K20D is a beast.


Blogger Mary said...

My 26-year-old son is a film advocate - I can sort of see his point of view, but I do love the convenience of digital. Anyway, a couple of Christmases ago he gave me a Holga. Lots of fun and sort of amazing to see how good photos are with film larger than 35mm, even on this lousy camera. The Holga camera back tends to fall off, but maybe I will duct tape it on and shoot another roll.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

The random nature of the "flaws" is the attraction of that camera- there's no way a digital camera could do the same!


Anonymous Nicole said...

Did Don read this post and burst into tears??


Blogger DanD said...

When we worked together (back when film was normal) I joyously bought and tried all manner of old cameras of every format. I loved their idiosyncracies. I liked the challenge of figuring them out and making them work. It was the Yin to my Large Format Landscape Precision Yang. Hope to see you soon Prof.


Blogger DanD said...

BTW, I think of you every time I listen to Captain Beefheart.


Blogger Professor Batty said...

Nicole~ Holgas will be the death of him.

Dan~ I was cured of the film camera habit by my Kiev.

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