My Holga 135BC Review

Holga 135BC - what's in the box

Holga 135BC - what's in the box

I’ve had my eye on this camera for a while – like every Holga Nut I imagine… who could resist the temptation of another Holga, especially if it’s different to the ones we know and love? Unlike its big brothers, this one takes standard 35mm film and produces 24x36mm negatives – easily processed on the High Street.

I rushed down to the Photographer’s Gallery last week to get the Holga 135BC, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. But before I show you the breathtaking results, here’s what this camera is all about.

There are two versions: the Holga 135 and the Holga 135BC. As I understand it, the only difference is a pink sticker on the BC version, and the fact that BC stands for “black corners”. This one should produce stronger vignetting, while the non-BC version shouldn’t.

Although there are no clues on the package or the manual, it’s fair to assume that this little baby is made by Tokina in Hong Kong, along with the rest of the fabulous Holga family.

What’s in the Box

We have the following ingredients at our disposal:

  • 1x Holga 135BC (nice!)
  • 1x Lens Cap with HOLGA written on it (I think all the new ones have that since 2008/2009)
  • 1x pink box with example photos, a “drawing” of the camera featuring some monkey sticker. Note that the word “Holga” is written in a different font than what’s on the lens cap, the camera and previous boxes (I guess they’re not branding specialists – which makes it more attractive to me)
  • 1x user manual
  • and one of those hand straps that you *can* attach, although nobody in their right mind ever would

The Outside

Plastic. Cheap plastic, that’s what we like. But unlike his bigger brother, this one is really well built. The back doesn’t come off completely (it’s hinged, like on a proper camera). There’s a film counter on the top (just like on a proper camera), and the shutter button is at the top, not next to the side of the lens. Speaking of which, you can screw in a cable release for long exposures.

As for features, they’re almost identical to the 120 version: at the bottom, you’ve got a switch for “normal” and “bulb” settings, so double-exposures or as-long-as-you-press-the-button exposures are back with a vengeance. Of course there’s a standard tripod mount. Nice!

On the top there’s a hot shoe for an external flash, and we also have that notorious aperture switch. Just like the 120 version, it technically works, but both apertures are the same. Should make for easy modding I would hope. The lens barrel (if you want to call it that) has the same outer dimensions as the 120 version, so all accessories should fit like a glove. I love it when manufacturers do that!

The Inside

This is how the vignetting is created: there's a translucent cut-out mask 1cm behind the lens

This is how the vignetting is created: there's a translucent cut-out mask 1cm behind the lens

Under the hood, things look a bit different. The film winds from left to right, like on standard 35mm cameras. However, it unwinds counterclockwise (as determined by the cartridge), and winds into the camera clockwise. I’ve not seen that before! It’s a great idea though, because it makes the film less curly when you come to handle it for processing or scanning. If this is in fact the reason behind it, who knows.

Tha back pops open by lifting the film rewind knob. You wind the film with a wheel at the top right, like on a disposable. Film transport is done by a sprocket next to the film chamber, and a 1cm thick take up spool. All the components, like the rest of the camera, have a very sturdy feel to it.

If you look closely at the film chamber, you can see a translucent mask behind the lens that covers the corners – the responsible part for creating that great vignetting effect.

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