The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – A Holga 135 Review

Hi All

A few weeks ago, I borrowed a Holga 135BC from a colleage to have a play with it on a trip back down to Canterbury in Kent to see my folks. I’d decieded it was to be a ananlogue only trip as i wanted to test the Holga and a couple of types of film that i’d wanted to play around with for some time.

My weapons of choice were the Holga 135BC loaded with Ilford HP5+ and my trusty Olympus OM-10 with some Kodak BW400CN.

Ilford HP5 and Kodak BW400CN

This was the first time i’d used either of these films and I was happy with the results. I will admit that I don’t think i’d given the Ilford a fair go as it was in the Holga. I’ll post some of the BW400CN images as they are scanned and processed.

Holga 135BC

The Holga 135BC is a 35mm variant of the larger medium format Holga 120, it shares the same plastic lens setup as it big brother but uses easier to process 35mm film.

First impressions were that it was very, very light.. even the disposable cameras i’ve used in the past weigh more. The camera must weigh no more than 150 grams and thats including the film! This is down to the all plastic contraction and lack of any complicated internal parts.

A Sign

Actually using the camera was very straightforward, again this is primarily down to the lack of any sort of features. Its a point and shoot with a fixed shutter (around 1/100 second) so film choice is important depending on the weather. To focus the shot you have to choose one of the settings on the lens barrel. They tie in with approximately 1m, 3m and infinity focus.

This is one of the cameras great flaws (or part of its genius depending on how you look at it). You have to set the focus essentially blind. As its a point and shoot, you look through a viewfinder to compose your shot. I managed to make the school boy error of thinking that my focus was set when looking through the viewfinder.. so i had a few blurry shots to begin with!


The viewfinder in general is next to useless – i’ve read that it only covers about 60% of what is actually in the frame. After half a roll I gave up on it and just pointed the camera in the direction I wanted and fired away.

Mechanically the camera operates in exactly the same way as any other point and shoot but slightly cheaper! Film loads easily and the winding on the film is fairly smooth (I love the clicking noises it makes as you wind it). The film counter also gives an accurate account of where you are on the film so i cant fault it there.


One thing i would note, when i shot my test roll on the camera, i used Ilford HP5. I’d not used a medium speed film before so i though i’d give it a test. Shooting on an overcast November day was a little too much for the camera to cope with. Most shots came out underexposed which was a shame, but after scanning and brightening them up in photoshop they actually came out quite usable. Although next time i’d be more inclined to use a faster film, such as 800 iso.

Now to the important bit, the image quality! This is no doubt the worst camera for image quality i’ve come across. As the lens is made from plastic, its blurry, distorted and focusses poorly – which is exactly why I love it. The images are just more fun from this camera, if I want a perfect image i’ll shoot with my Nikon D40 – if i want character then i’ll use one of these.

Watling Street

To sum up – i think that this is one of the best and one of the worse cameras i’ve used. I love the fact that takes away all control from you, allowing you to just take the shots.

Good god i love this little crappy plastic camera.




4 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – A Holga 135 Review

  1. The focussing you describe reminds me of using a 35mm Olympus Trip. The loss of focus at the edge of the last shot (street scene) gives it a tilt-shift feel about it.

    Don’t forget that the best pictures are often taken on less than technically decent kit.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – A Holga 135 Review « Gary Danton's Digital Scrapbook --

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