Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Holga 3D camera: it works!

I like stuff that works the way it's supposed to.

With its light leaks and distorted, vignetted pictures, the original Holga gained a cult following for its results- and a reputation for being a terribly-built little machine that might or might not produce usable results on any given roll of film. At least it was honest: it never promised anything other than the occasional lucky accident. And if you knew its limitations, you could use it to take pictures with some degree of confidence.

But I had my suspicions, when I saw the 3D Holga, that the same company which could barely build a simple camera had decided to produce a more complicated version. Making one shutter trip when you press a button is one thing, but synchronizing a pair of shutters is quite another. Would it even work?

Much to my surprise, the 3D Holga actually does work- and it works well. The pictures it produces are exactly what you'd imagine: distorted, vignetted, and occasionally discoloured, just like you'd see from the original, except in 3D.

It works by taking two side-by-side 6x6cm images at the same time, which means you get 6 pictures per roll of film. The two lenses are focused individually, and film advance is accomplished the old-fashioned way, reading numbers through a little red window. It's all as simple as can be.

The camera is very similar to the standard Holga, with the same lens (times two) and the same general body shape and build quality. But like the Holga Wide Pinhole camera, which we wrote about last month, there have been a few improvements: the shutter button is now equipped with a built-in cable release socket, the dual flash units have the later Holga's built-in colour wheel, and the extra heft makes the camera feel a bit more substantial.

The manual recommends using 400-speed slide film, which can later be cut and fitted into 3D slide mounts for viewing with the (optional, $39 +tx) viewer. But you can shoot negative film just as easily, and view the prints or scans by other means, including the entirely free (but somewhat undignified) method of crossing your eyes. I'm still experimenting with viewing techniques, so watch this space- I'll try to post any breakthroughs.

In the meantime, the 3D Holga is probably the cheapest way to get big, bright medium-format stereo pictures, and I'm having a great time with mine. More sample pictures are available here.

The 3D Holga includes a cable release and two lens caps- plus an instruction manual- and it's available now for $169 +tx.

Contact us or stop in to our shop for more information.

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