If you are looking to get into a wide angle pinhole camera on the cheap, other than building your own, the Holga 120 WPC is a rational choice. Now that these pieces of plastic fantastic are being manufactured again, they are readily available from Ebay to Amazon, typically for between fifty and sixty bucks. To use the camera adequately, you can forget the cheap bubble level that comes implanted on the top (mine broke the first time out in the field). For a few bucks, you can superglue a rectangular bubble level that both works and is accurate (such that your horizons are not tilted, which looks particularly funky when it is a lake). Next you will need to find a spare hot or cold shoe from another camera (I ordered one from an ebay seller for a few bucks) and superglue it to hold a viewfinder. I use my Voigtlander 21/25 viewfinder from my 4x5 pinhole and just swap it back and forth. While there are many pinholers who do not use a viewfinder, I find it much easier for composition than guessing, especially with ultra wide angle. If you don’t have more than one use for the viewfinder, you can forget the hot/cold shoe mount and just superglue the viewfinder to the top of your Holga and you are set to enter the world of pinhole photography. Most people would find this amazing, but this is the FIRST Holga I have owned (in about eight or so) that has actually had light leaks. It seems to be the rule, more often than not, that these cheap pieces of mass produced plastic will give their owners more than a modicum of light leaks, with resulting negatives with blown out highlights in the area of the leak. This WPC leaks at the top of the back. The very cheap and simple solution known by most, if not all Holga users-Gaffer Tape. I always use a strip of Gaffer Tape over the red frame counter window, as it too is suspect in light leaks. If these inconveniences bother you, spending about twice the money and getting a nice wood handcrafted pinhole is your ticket. There are many on the market and they are also quite beautiful to look at. For myself, the notion of spending a hunk of change on a plain box without a lens makes little sense. I frequently have gotten feedback on Flickr and this website from viewers who remark that the images are very crisp for being from a pinhole. Without sound Photoshop or LIghtroom skills, your images will in fact be soft-a trademark of lensless cameras. If you want them otherwise, you must have the requisite software and develop the post processing skills to achieve the effects that please you. I find it no different than the dodging, burning, and use of various paper grades I fiddled with for decades in the traditional darkroom. There is also something innately satisfying about not having a lens to fiddle with, but on the other hand, shutter speed calculations, including reciprocity failure adjustments for your film, add another dimension-especially for digital photographers with no analogue background. Purchase a pinhole exposure calculator, use a light meter or download one for your smartphone, and find the reciprocity corrections for the film you are using online. Here is the sequence, if you are interested:
Take a meter reading and record the shutter speed for any F-Stop. Turn the dial on your pinhole exposure calculator to that selection. You can then look on the calculator for the F-Stop of your pinhole (the Holga is F/132) and read the appropriate shutter speed. Then you have to add the appropriate time for reciprocity failure for exposures longer than one second (which is virtually ALL of your shots on a pinhole). I keep a chart for reciprocity failure glued on the back of my calculator. It might turn out like this…..Your meter reading says 1/30th of a second at F/60. You enter that on your calculator and find the exposure to actually be 4 seconds at F/132. When you look at your reciprocity chart, you see that to achieve the appropriate exposure, you need 30 seconds. Done and perfectly exposed. Sounds daunting but it is a piece of cake after a few trials…you will do it without thinking. Good luck.
“When we miss someone, often, what we really miss is the part of us that with this someone awakens.”
― Luigina Sgarro
a classic Grateful Dead performance during the days when Bruce Hornsby was touring with them.