The Holga 120 WPC

Last year when I asked if there was anything in particularly I wanted for Christmas, one thing I immediately rolled off was a Holga 120WPC. It's a camera I've wanted for a long time, but one I had never actually bought. I'd spent hours looking at various pinhole cameras like Zero Image, and Noon but the price would always put me off for what was, to me, a bit of fun.

Holga 120WPC

Holga 120WPC

If you're unfamiliar with this camera, it is a plastic camera made by Holga and the WPC stands for Wide Pinhole Camera. It takes medium format film and comes with two masks to create a 6x9cm negative or a 6x12cm negative. On top there is a rough guide to the field of view and a spirit level to help you set up the tripod. The field of view is 120° which grabs a lot of the scene into one frame, couple that with a 40mm focal length and you can be very close to a building and yet the negative will look like you were far away. A good example of it's field of view is a shot I took of St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile and the photo I tweeted of the that shot being taken.

St Giles Cathedral - In Progress

St Giles Cathedral - In Progress

St Giles Cathedral

St Giles Cathedral

When I first picked up the camera, I loaded it up with Ilford Delta 100 and headed to Calton Hill. This has to be one of my favourite locations in the City for getting to grips with any new camera. It is home to the National Monument, Nelson's Monument, the Old Observatory, and provides a great view across the City - so you've got a diverse range of shots to play with.

It immediately grabbed the attention of passers-by including a digital photographer, out snapping with his Nikon D700, who chatted to me for a while and I ended up persuaded him to dig out his Zero Image pinhole camera from the garage when he got home.

The first photo I took, and still one of my favourites, is one of the National Monument - it was convenient for a big rock for me to sit on, let me get to grasps with the camera and calculate my exposure times.

Ilford film is rather unforgiving with reciprocity failure so anything over 1 second will need compensation. A member on Flickr has kindly put together a conversion sheet from f/16 to f/135 and including reciprocity failure for Ilford films. That was fantastic as I could meter to the shadows in any scene by setting my 35mm camera to f16 and then using the table to convert this to an exposure time on the Holga. It worked every time. Typically they would be 1/8 second at f/16 which converted to 28 seconds.

120 2012 Roll 001 F001.jpg

This is easily one of my favourite cameras now and results like the National Monument have made me all the more serious about pinhole photography. The Holga is a perfectly priced camera for the job so don't be fooled by the Holga's dreamy brand - there are no plastic lenses so you're only dealing with a plastic box and a pinhole.