The Holga 135 Pan: Getting to Know Your Camera by Alec Pain

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
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Written by Alec Pain (Alastair Place)

Over the past year, I’ve become obsessed with buying different Holgas. I don’t think I can possibly own every Holga – and there’s really little sense in me owning both an S and an N, which are more or less the same thing, but I think at heart I am a bit of a hoarder/collector.

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
If I could hold you for a minute

The Different Holga Models and Variations

I started – like most Holga owners – with a Holga 120N. The N in this case denotes for New. It’s the updated version of the Holga S – which stood for Standard and was the original Holga. And these letters proliferate into each Holga that gets produced.

The Holga N models have a GN (glass – instead of plastic lens – added), an FN (flash added – there’s also a Holga SF with flash), a CFN (color flash added), a GFN (glass with a flash added), a GCFN (yes, you are right a glass Color flash added).

Then there’s an SF (standard flash), a TLR (twin lens reflex), and a GTLR (TLR with glass lens). And then there’s the GFN – which has a glass lens and flash and formerly called the WOCA GF.

There’s also the Holga 120-3D stereo – which is seemingly super rare (and yes, I have just found one on Etsy). The Holga 120-PAN (Panoramic) seems to be a close cousin – with one lens (no glass – as yet). It is the same size but with just one lens which takes six 6x12shots.

But Holga also do Pinhole Cameras – the PC (stands for Pinhole Camera) – of which there are – I think – three versions – the PC, the WPC (wide – 6×12), and the 120 WPC-3D. Have I missed any out? Answers in the comments below.

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Pan d’oro
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35mm Holga Variants

If you’re still with me, I’m writing about a 135 Holga – a Holga which takes 35mm film. And, of course, there are quite a few 35mm Holgas!

The standard 135 has a discontinued version, a BC (black corners) – which added a more “Holga” vignette feel to the original, and FC with build-in flash. There are also two half frame cameras: the new HC and the old TIM.

If that wasn’t enough, there is also the Holga 135PC (a pinhole camera), a TLR (twin lens reflex), and a BC TLR (black corner TLR).

Have I mentioned the Turret version? Yes, I need help to find a copy of it! There’s also a number of point and shoots which are very rare: the 35KF, 35KFB, 35MF, 35AFX (auto-focus?), etc. Plus more Holga Ks (I’m not sure what the K stands for!), but one which is shaped like a kitten.

And, of course, there’s a WOCA 135 NF-4 which hovers tantalizingly on eBay waiting for me to purchase.

Lastly, we come to the Holga which I am writing about – the Holga 135PAN, a panoramic 35mm Holga which I found on carousel in the Philippines. I’ve never seen another one for sale, and yet there must be copies out there! It’s incredible difficult to find. I paid more on delivery than the actual camera, but it’s been my favorite purchase and one that I bring everywhere with me know.

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Mum says I’m God’s gift

The Holga 135 Pan

So what’s the 135 Pan like?

Well, the winder doesn’t even wind properly, it has eaten my film in places and also cut it as I’ve tried to rewind it – losing two rolls in the process when I opened the back and realized the film hadn’t spooled into the film canister.

All this aside, I love it and the results it has helped me to create.

The Holga 135 Pan creates panoramic images that are 24x72mm, so twice the length of a standard 35mm negative.

Other than the panoramic framing, it has similar features to other Holgas: zone focusing, sunny (f/11) and cloudy (f/8) aperture settings, a pinhole feature, and double exposure capabilities.

The 135 Pan also comes with two lenses: a normal 55mm lens and a f/236 pinhole lens.

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
55mm lens and a pinhole lens for the Holga 135 Pan

My Experience with the Holga 135 Pan

I started taking pictures in Llandudno – a seaside town in North Wales – using Candido 800 film. The shots had generally run into each other – you can double expose intentionally – but the Holga 135 Pan seemed to have its own ideas on where I should start my shot and where the next shot would enter, creating a lot of overlapping frames.

The winder clicked, but it did it very intermittently or too soon for one shot to finish and the next to start. It also left a pleasing black “smudge” of a line on the top of the film, which I just love.

You can see this in this first shot. You could also ask yourself which way up should it be presented?

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
On the rails

This was the promenade – it made a very pleasing Holgarama, but I could also crop them down into their originally intended four images:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
The sea calls

At other times the overlay seemed to work in mysterious, magical ways:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Roll on summertime
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Pier Pleasure

I did manage to get one without any overlays. Whilst it’s not a Hasselblad XPan, I do think it works brilliantly as a Holga Pan – there’s the typical Holga central focus with a gradual blur at the edges:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Piering out to sea

And you can do all of the usual Holga things – like double-exposing – intentionally – and using a home-made splitzer.

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Not really sure what’s going on
(using a homemade splitzer lens)

I tried the camera again during Holga Week – in London at Paddington station. It meant that I’d learnt from the experience of using the camera in Llandudno – I wanted the feeling of a busy station – with doubles and overlays:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Paddington stares

And by the time I came back to London in November, I had, I think, figured out that I should wind the winder 12 times to get a non-overlapping image.

The light and shadow on the walk from the Photographer’s Gallery off Oxford Street through, Carnaby Street, Soho and down to Piccadilly Circus was a perfect mix for the Holga and Kodak Gold 200.

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Liberty
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Imagine
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Piccadilly Parlare
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
After a rainy night in Soho

Once I got to know the camera, I think it became easier to second guess where the doubles or run on shots occurred.

I had a thirty minute wait for my train, so I wondered into Oxford on my way to London:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Early morning, St. Michael’s Street

By the time I had reached St. Pauls, the autumn sun was calling out to me. As I passed through Paternoster Square near St. Pauls, I took almost a 360 degree image of the same scene:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
If I could hold you for a minute
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
If I could hold you for a minute
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
If I could hold you for a minute

And I made a number of single and double exposures of the cathedral itself too:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Inspired
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
On the low
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Cathedral
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Projection

Back home in Charlbury, the following week and with a few shots still left, the fog stayed around until lunchtime so that a walk through the woods was magical:

35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Autumn is your last chance
35mm panoramic film image with the Holga 135 Pan on Shoot It With Film
Where we go running when we want to hide

I hope you’ve enjoyed the results I’ve got with the Holga 135 Pan – I think it’s incredibly important to get to know your camera’s foibles and learn from your what you’ve taken previously.

Thank you so much, Alec! Alec is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and be sure to check out his other articles, like Long Exposure Film Photography at Night: Learning From My Mistakes and How to Shoot Holgaramas.

You can also check out more of his work on Instagram.

Leave your questions about the Holga 135 Pan below in the comments!

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Alec Pain

Alec Pain (AKA Alastair Place) is a pinhole and experimental photographer and a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his other articles here, such as How to Shoot Holgaramas.

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Marvelous images. Fine article! Congratulations!

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Alastair Place/AlecPain

Thankyou Curtis 🙂

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