Holga has gone 35mm. Huh? Yeah, I said the same thing when I first saw this thing on Ebay. I was somewhat dubious as to it's authenticity. Maybe it was a Frankenstein camera created by someone else to capitalize (in a Communist country, no less) on the Holga name. A cheap pirate camera of a cheap camera. Plus, the 135BC moniker is actually stolen from a Russian LOMO camera. I couldn't help myself, though, and ordered one. So I'm sitting and drinking my hoji-cha, and what shows up today from Hong Kong? Duh...my new Holga 135BC, of course. I love getting new cameras in the mail. It's like a little bit of Christmas wrapped up in a brown box. So, let's open up that brown box (or envelope, in this case).
Fancy packaging, eh? I'm sure that will be spiffed up at some point.
I smell camera under that bubble wrap. Well, actually I can see it. And here she be! Purty? Purty ugly, in that cute Holga kinda way.
Okay, it looks like a camera...with a Holga lens? Yep. I'd still be dubious as to its legitimacy, but it has a UEI logo on it. Tokina is part of UEI, and they make Holgas. So I guess maybe it is real. It is an odd mix of actually built fairly well to bits of cheap. The labels are clear stickers. Even the figures on the focus ring are on a clear sticker. On a 120 Holga, the Holga logo is a sticker, but on black, but the focus ring is painted. I'm sure that at some point, there will be a LOMO sticker in place of the UEI, when Lomography starts to sell these things. I've also read that this camera is actually still in testing phase, so maybe this isn't the final version. The box and no instructions maybe lend to this theory. These might be straight from the factory before a distributor gets ahold of them.
Compare the 120 and 135:
The front lens on a 120 has raised text. On the 35mm, it's just painted on flat. At least it's not a sticker. It also says 47mm, as opposed to 60mm. How is this achieved with the same lens mount?
You can see that the lens is set deeper in the mount, using an additional piece of plastic. The lens SEEMS to be made of glass, but it's hard to tell without scratching it. Not in my plans. The aperture is a bit smaller than on the 120, also. It has the same sunny/cloudy aperture switch that the Holga has. I've read more than once that the switch on the 120 isn't hooked up to anything and does nothing. This is only half true. You can see the aperture plate slide over to another setting when you switch over...it's just that both apertures aren't any smaller than the camera aperture, so it doesn't make any difference where you set it. It kind of looks about the same for the 135BC. I can see it switching over, but I can't really tell if it makes a difference. I can see the edges of the plate on the sunny setting, but they seem to be about the same size as the camera aperture. I'll have to take a few duplicate shots on both settings to see if there is any difference.
So, what does this new camera offer? It has a couple nice features. You can see the hotshoe for a flash. Also a screw for a cable release. Why? Because of this, I assume:
It has a bulb setting! Kind of cool. On the bottom, you also see a tripod mount and the button for rewinding the film. The other hole just has a screw in it. It went through Quality Control. Wheee! You can also fire the shutter as many times as you want for each frame, but the film won't advance to the next frame until you fire at least once. Another nifty feature. Makes for easy multiple exposures...or easy mistakes.
The back pops open by pulling up on the film winder.
The inside is one piece that doesn't come out, like a 120 camera, so only one size....135. There are some metal parts here and there for added strength. Like I said, it's put together fairly well...a bit better than your basic thrift store plastic camera.
So...what does the output look like? There are a few sites that have some supposed examples. Check out Snaps. There are a few other Asian sites with examples. I will be using mine today and tomorrow, so I should have a roll done and samples in a day or two. I'm going to use black and white film, as all I've seen are color shots. I'm very curious about all that vignette! Be sure to check back soon! I'm sure that these things will be VERY popular when they appear outside of Hong Kong. 35mm is a lot easier for most people to stomach than 120.