Monday, April 7, 2008

Holgaroid Modification Fun!

If your familiar with Holgas, your probably familiar with Holgaroids... a cheap plastic polaroid back slapped on an even cheaper plastic camera. Fancy, right? Well, I finally bought one, and I've been messing with it ever since. The polaroid back uses 3.25x4.25 peel-apart packfilm(Type 669, etc.). Peel-apart Packfilm was the first of the polaroid film way back when.
If you don't know, Holgas are medium(square) format cameras, therefore the film designed for them is square, the polaroid film that is. Type 88, Type89, etc. And as I'm sure your aware, Polaroid(or rather the heartless owner of the Polaroid company) has decided to discontinue all of their instant film. This leaves the Holgaroid user in a quite a pickle... here's why:

The Fujifilm company started producing instant film of their own, this includes instax, which I won't go into right now, but they also make packfilm. They produce a few different types of 3.25x4.25 size film, and a few types of 4x5. This is good for Land camera users(old style polaroid cameras which use it), and also good for people who have polaroid backs for their cameras. The problem is, is that the film is landscape, they did not pick up square instant film. The image produced by a holga, is square, so you are going to have extra space on the polaroid itself. So the Holgaroid user is left with a few choices; Use 3.25x4.25 film and have a black space on the side of your image, try to find expired square polaroid film, or modify your back to take landscape film.

Well, being the very hands-on type person I am... I thought, heck, why not rip apart a camera.

The things you will need to create your own Holgaroid, Landscape, picture-takin' Monster:

Holga Camera - any version will do, although I didn't use the flash, so you probably don't need to bother with a flash version... keep in mind you'll be darn-near destroying the thing for future, film use.
Holga Polaroid Back - this is where it gets a bit expensive... if your lucky you might be able to buy one off somebody for less than $100. Good luck there
A Second Lens - I've found the Holga lens just did not want to cooperate with the distance from the film plane. I guess you could say that this is an optional choice, but unless you want your images to look like this:

You'll need a new lens. I've chosen a Diana+ lens(Diana+ is another cheap plastic toy camera) I like the blurring around the edges, and more importantly, it is a 75mm lens. Farther away from the film plane...don't ask why, it just seems to be necessary.
Lots o' tape
Exacto knife
Dremel tool
Hand saw
ok ok I'll stop, just uh... things to cut up plastic, got it?

Let's start with the Polaroid Back... If you look at where the square image is created, you'll see right away that the image is off-center. Now , why the manufacturer didn't just center the area is beyond me, regardless you'll need to cut that extra away. I used a Dremel tool, just put holes in it all the way down. Don't worry about making it straight, it most likely, will not be seen on the polaroid. By the way, I've since put polaroid type 88, 89 and the back still works fine... so no worries on ruining the back.
Next is the Holga body... this is the fun part.
You'll need to remove the lens/shutter mechanism, easy enough, it just screws off. If you have a flash, you can just cut the cable, it will get in the way. Next I took out all the battery parts, if your using a Holga FN of course. I then cut out the vertical plastic "walls" on either side of the window. An Exacto knife worked just fine.

Now, since the image projected on the back will be off-center, you'll have to reposition the lens. By doing so, you'll have to cut away some of the inside of the window, like so...

I guess that's about it for the body, when you're done, it should look something like the above.

On to the Lens! the Diana+ lens just pops off the camera body. But you will have to open the aperture on it in order to get a wide frame. Doing so, will require you to take off the plastic piece behind the lens.

That's the key to this whole mess, if a wide open aperture wasn't required(and it is trust me) then you could just use the holga lens/shutter or the Diana lens/shutter... but neither of those will give you a large enough hole. After you've done that, you need to position the lens 75mm away from the back. Now since it took me a while to realize that, I tested it at a few different distances, it may be 5mm up or down, you'll just have to take a couple test shots. I used the screw mount from the Holga lens, since the Holga is trashed now anyway... and wouldn't you know it, it's pretty darn close to the right distance away.

I've found that you can stop down the aperture a little, I used a washer that was slightly smaller. with the wide open aperture you have to have such a fast shutter speed in daylight, that your hands can't move fast enough. So, to compensate I've stopped it down as much as possible without getting too much vignetting or dark edges. This might be a trial and error type thing for you.

Now tape that lens on the front, slightly off-center... the first thing you'll notice is that you have no shutter now! well, this is fine for the time being. Luckily Holga Polaroid backs come with a piece of plastic that slides right in front of the film plane. So, you can use your hand in front of the lens for test shots, until you build a shutter.
Currently, I'm using a piece of cardboard with a hole in it as a shutter mechanism. I put a hole between the screw mount and the lens and slide the piece across. One very big problem is that the cardboard is right behind the lens, and it is in the way of the lens focusing all the way to infinity. Leaving me to stay focused around 1 to 4 meters. Not a huge problem, I like focusing close anyway, plus it's a temporary fix anyway.

Tape, Tape and more Tape...I know, I Macgyvered it. This particular camera in my opinion is a Diana Polaroid. Since none of the Holga parts influence the final image, it's basically just the box.
My first successful shot:

Lots of test shots, lots of mistakes, and a few gems. This is an imperfect science and many of these steps can be improved/skipped/mocked... I'm by no means an expert. I'm just someone who loves plastic cameras and Polaroids... and trying to create beautiful images with them. Hope this helps, Good Luck!
Much credit goes to the Flickr folks for the inspiration, you know who you are.
See my Flickr for more.

P.S. I'll show how to make a "real" homemade shutter in an upcoming post. So be on the lookout.


Stevie said...

Love this tutorial - will you be putting this shutter instructions up soon? I'm very interested!

Anonymous said...

Love this tutorial - will you be putting this shutter instructions up soon? I'm very interested!

Option8 said...

Next time, save some film by using ground glass inside an empty film pack.

Dont have glass?

Tracing paper works just as well, but youll need a dark hood.

Anonymous said...


腰痠 said...

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Option8 said...

You inspired a customer of mine awhile ago...forgot to post the link:

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