Holga 120FN
5 frames with...

5 frames with a Holga (my First Film Camera) and some Expired Film – By Frankie Bina

August 14, 2021

I know, Holga and expired film, that sounds like a total cliché of Lomography and hipsters. But for me it was the first taste of the world of a film photography. And it all started by a pure accident.

I stumbled upon this Holga while cleaning our flat, hidden in a storage space under a bed, an old remnant of my wife’s short lasting photography interest in her late teenage years. I never shot with a film before and to be honest, I had no intentions to start with it. But as the opportunity was sitting right at my hands, I decided I will give it a go. Having no idea how deep this road will take me.

I started taking photography seriously just a few years ago, shooting strictly with mirrorless cameras. So not only that the film was a completely unknown medium to me, even concepts of a rangefinder and a zone focusing were something I never really experienced before. I was confused, but at the same time so eager to learn everything about it. And luckily, I have a friend who gave me a great introduction to the film photography and Holgas.

So, my starting point was a Holga 120FN, which firstly needed a proper cleaning from all the leftover battery acid. I guess batteries leaked all over it sometime in the past decade. This also meant no flash, as its circuit simply disintegrated. Alongside it I had three rolls of 10 years expired Colorplus 200, a 35mm adapter kit and a light meter app freshly installed on my phone.

For next two months, Holga became my inseparable partner for all photowalks around my current home of Shenzhen, China. Going out with friends from our local photoclub, testing it on street photography, architecture, landscapes and anything else that offered enough light for my expired films and slow lens. And when I was not out shooting, I went deep into online sources, learning so many new fascinating facts about the world of film, analogue cameras and a photography overall. And 35mmc was very helpful in that.

How did the first rolls end up? Not as good as I hoped, not as bad as I feared. They are very noisy, some shots were out of focus or not properly framed and few shots in an early morning taught me a harsh lesson about a proper exposure. But all these shots feel unique to me and I find myself going over them over and over, something I rarely do with my digital shots.

Hanfu fan at lake

Modern architecture of Qianwan

Workers resting in shadows during lunch break

Abstract Architecture shot
Hongqiao "Red Ribbon" bridge

Was this experience enough to convince me to join the ranks of film photographers? The lovely Olympus OM-10 hanging on my camera strap and a fridge slowly filling up with new films should give you a clear answer. You might see me around the 35MMC more in the future.

Meanwhile you can check my photos from life in China on my Instagram @FrantaBina
And take a look at our recently established photoclub – Shenzhen International Foto Collective @ShenzhenFoto

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Ben Garcia
    August 16, 2021 at 10:08 pm

    Classic Holga! Nice images. Though I had previous experience with my OM-1 years ago, Holga was definitely something that pulled me back into film and the creativity/uniqueness it represents. Holga is a great intro to medium format, too. It’s a short step to buying a second-hand early-20th century 6×6 or 6×9 with a decent lens without automation. The lenses are usually glass and bodies made of metal, sort of like an armored Holga with the luxury of a few apertures and shutter speeds to choose from. New worlds await!

    • Reply
      Frankie Bina
      August 17, 2021 at 4:00 pm

      Hi Ben,
      thanks for comment.

      I didn’t get to shooting 120 in my Holga yet, mainly due to problems with developing. While I can get 135 developed cheaply and at local guy, for 120 it would have to go to special lab and the price would be less than friendly. Maybe some day.

      • Reply
        Ben Garcia
        August 17, 2021 at 10:18 pm

        Oh yeah, these are from the OM10, I guess.

        I usually send all of my film off to get developed as no one does it within a 3-4 hr drive of me. Luckily most places charge the same for 120 non-pano format and for 35mm. It’s an expense to plan around, for sure.

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