Shovel Point, Tettegouche State Park on Flickr.
I like panoramas and I like the dreamy images a Holga. In the past, I’ve experimented with in-camera panoramas using a Holga and with stitching two images (or more) together in the computer. Both have their charms, but I was really excited when I heard last year that Holga was coming out with a 6x12 (actually closer to a 1:2.35 cinematic aspect ratio) panoramic camera. It was initially priced at above $90, but recently the prices came down to the $50 range—-a steal for so much camera! I bought one for myself as a little gift for taking the bar exam. Anyway, it’s a perfect landscape camera, especially after a few modifications:
1. Velcro-ed half of a clothespin to the top for use as a long exposure trigger. There is no screw-in bulb shutter on the 120 Pan, but it’s pretty easy to shove a clothespin into the little space between the shutter lever (Holgas have a little lever on the side of the lens that you press down to activate the shutter, pretty simple).
2. Sprayed Plasti-Dip onto the shutter lever to provide added grip for the clothespin so that it wouldn’t slip out of place during a long exposure. Holga lenses are really easy to take off of the body (thinking about putting on on a 4x5 camera for a dreamy wide-angle; I think the image circle will be just large enough for 4x5 since it’s wide enough for 12cm film already). I just removed the shutter lever from the lens, sprayed it, and re-installed it.
3. Fit a 46-52cm step-up ring into the end of the lens so I can use my filters, especially my 10-stop B+W used in this image. The lens has no threads, but it’s plastic, so a step-up ring can be forced into the lens as a semi-permanent modification. This also allows use of a screw-in lens hood. I used a 28mm Nikon hood and there were no signs that it obstructed the image—-I think the field of view on the wide end is roughly 32mm (it’s a 90mm lens). I think the ability to use filters is really important for Holgas because of the one-speed shutter when not in bulb mode. Using the normal shutter gives you limited options as you are stuck with 1 film (give or take a stop or two depending on the film and the lighting), 1 shutter speed (about 1/100th), and 2 apertures (relatively small at f/13 and f/20). Use of heavy filters allows you to stretch out exposure time to seconds or minutes which expands the flexibility of the camera since you just need a tripod and some time for almost any lighting situation. Bright, bright sun is about 15 seconds with a 10-stop filter and ISO 100 film at f/22. The cool thing is is that you can shoot at high-noon and at dusk with the same film—-all you need to do is be a little thoughtful about filter use and have a tripod and be in bulb mode.
4. Created a chart with exposure values for situations I’m likely to encounter that I pasted onto the back of the camera. I measured the aperture opening and found aperture values of roughly f/20 and f/13 for the ‘sunny’ and ‘cloudy’ settings the Holga generously gives the user. I added shutter speeds for f/22 to my chart corresponding to the EV as well as the shutter speeds with a 10-stop filter. Now, I can keep the filter on the camera at all times (the viewfinder is separate) and don’t need a digital camera to meter or a light meter. For the above shot, I think I used an EV of 12 or so (cloudy) and had a corresponding exposure of 2 minutes. Fuji Acros has almost no reciprocity failure, so no need to account for that here.
This was a really fun camera to add to my arsenal. The images keep that dreamy Holga look, especially at the edges, but retain the detail and tonality inherent in a 6x12cm slice of film. More to come…