While “GAS” (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) can be a real drain on your pocket, sometimes a new camera can be something of a solution to feeling like you’re in a rut. The important thing is not to overpay and stretch your budget too thin.
The solution, for me, was a Holga. Holga’s are rather notorious cameras, famous for being incredibly cheap and also a bit “stereotypical” when it comes to Lomography aesthetics. However, I feel that analog photography has moved beyond Lomography for the most part.
Quick tangent: I think Lomography is fine as an aesthetic, but where I take great issue is the cost associated with their very cheap cameras. There is no reason that a plastic camera that doesn’t have a meter should cost over $20. And Lomography branded film is not worth it, flat out.
So yeah, why a Holga in 2018? Why add that to my collection? I’ve already got a pretty good walkaround medium format camera in the form of my Mamiya M645.
Well, again the answer was that I felt like even the M645 was “too much camera" for what I’m feeling at the moment. The Holga (and plastic cameras in general) are about what they don’t have as much as what they do have. This particular camera is as basic as one can get before stepping into the realm of pinhole photography. It’s a plastic box that holds film and has a really crummy lens and shutter. That’s it. The shutter moves via a hilariously simple spring mechanism, it moves at about 1/125s but it’s a goofy spring so who knows depending on how hard to trip the shutter. This one feels fairly ‘springy’ so I’m guessing that’s about as accurate as it’ll ever be.
So yeah, it’s a plastic box that holds film. And that’s all I want it to be at the moment. I just wanted to have something to run some rolls of HP5 through that didn’t feel like I had to coordinate or calibrate anything. When I take a shot with the Mamiya, it’s a pretty slow process. Get the meter reading, adjust the settings. Focus up… and focus up some some more. Adjust the framing just right. Make sure the shutter lock is off, possibly flip the mirror up manually to avoid any extraneous shake from the mirror slap, then take the picture. It can be fun. You feel like you’re really doing something when you photograph that way.
But it’s all just extras. All cameras are just specially designed boxes. And the Holga is among the least special, and that’s what makes it so great. I think I needed a little reminder of that. The Holga is kind of like the Coelacanth of cameras. It’s a fossil from a bygone time. It’s kind of hideous. It bares some resemblance to more advanced cameras we have now, but it just doesn’t give a shit about that new stuff.
Also mine is blue.