I recently received this Aura Orange glow-in-the-dark Holga HolgaGlo 120N as a gift. While I was adding a little bit of gaffer’s tape, I decided to customize this Holga by turning it into a Thelonius Monk edition using a beer coaster from North Coast Brewing Company’s Brother Thelonius Belgian style abbey ale. The Holga 30th anniversary glow in the dark camera series also comes in Ultra Violet, Infra Red, Solar Yellow, Electric Blue, Fuschia Fusion, Neon Green, and Orange Burst. If you’re looking for something less conspicuous, you could always go Commando!
Six side-by-side photos compare a photo taken with an iPhone 4 using the Hipstamatic app with a photo shot with a 1950′s Franka Solida III medium format folding film camera. Much like last year’s experiments with a Holga, I prefer the film images.
The certo6.com site has a lot of great information on vintage folding cameras. The Franka is compact, works perfectly, and looks beautiful — not bad for a 50+ year old camera. The best part is Jurgen from certo6.com does a full CLA on each camera before selling them on eBay.
The downside of shooting film is the cost — a roll of 120 plus developing ends up being $12 — $1 per shot. And then of course you need to scan the film. If you want to make prints, the extra hassle is worth it. Film has a lot more dynamic range than the iPhone. And the 5 megapixel iPhone 4 or 8 megapixel iPhone 4s can’t compare to the resolution of scanned 6×6 film. Even on my old Epson 4990 flatbed scanner at the 2400ppi setting I get a 25 megapixel file from my Franka negatives. Big enough to print a 16″ square image at 300 dpi, which is a nice size for these images.
One shot was made with a Holga toy camera loaded with Kodak 400VC film. The other shot is with an iPhone 4 and the Hipstamatic app on the Buckhorst H1 lens setting. As with previous toy camera vs toy camera app comparisons that I’ve done, the real toy camera wins. Why? The much wider dynamic range of film. The sharp center with the radical falloff to out of focus. The true randomness of the light leaks. Not waiting around for the digital file to “develop.” The longer wait before seeing the results. Talking to the friendly folks at my local lab. The only things I don’t like about film are paying for it and scanning. You can click any of the diptychs above for a bigger image.
Holga vs. Hipstamatic: Click on either image above for a larger version
1. The Holga 120N image at the top has light leaks, is only sharp in the center, and has limited depth of field. The Kodak 400VC negative film handled the harsh mid-day lighting just fine (400VC has been replaced by Portra 400). At $5 + tax for the film and $6 for developing, it’s about $1 per shot when shooting with a Holga. Plus scanning time.
2. The second monkey photo was taken with the popular Hipstamatic app on an iPhone 4 using the Helga lens, and has been color corrected and resized in Photoshop. The framing is tighter because that’s the only way the iPhone would meter for the subject. I liked the image OK until I got the film back from the lab — now I much prefer the Holga version. iPhone photography apps are fun, but still haven’t replaced toy camera goodness for me. It’s a different thing.