How to Convert Your Holga to a 35mm Camera


Introduction: How to Convert Your Holga to a 35mm Camera

Holgas are freaking sweet cameras, but that medium format film is a pain in the ass to get processed at anywhere but a pro shop. If you're like me and don't have any pro shops nearby, then this instructable is for you!

Sorry about the blurry pictures, I did this at night.

P.S. this is my first instructable, so bear with me.

P.P.S. This modification was based on the one available at:

Step 1: What You'll Need


A Holga camera
Long, thin rubber bands (2x)
Electrical tape
35mm film
Cardboard (or any kind of padding material)

Step 2: Fix the Reel

See that the Holga works by reeling the 120 film into the spool? We want that to reel 35mm film, so we're going to have to shrink the holes. Get your rubber bands.

Wrap the rubber bands around each edge of the take-up spool so that the hole is roughly the width of 35mm film. You can adjust the size by fitting the exposed end of your film into the hole.

Now place your spool in your camera. Use cardboard (or padding) to get it to fit in snugly.

Step 3: Insert Film Here

Now put in your 35mm film. You'll need to pull a bit out.

Push some through the spool's hole and twist the knob a few times to get it to take.

You'll need a lot of cardboard (or padding) to get the film canister to stay where it's supposed to. Put a bunch above and below it to get it to stay in place.

Step 4: Blackout!

Replace the back cover of your Holga.

Wait... what's this? Your viewing window for medium-format film is going to expose your 35mm film!

Fix this problem with a little electrical tape. Cover up the window and any other visible cracks that might let too much light in (except the shutter, we'll need that later).

Step 5: Take Pictures

Take lots of pictures.

NOTE: Since there's no way of knowing what frame you're on, use the "34 click rule." This means that, after every picture, turn the winding knob and count 34 clicks. This gives you enough room on the film so that your pictures don't overlap.

ANOTHER NOTE: 35mm film is considerably shorter (as in height) than medium format, meaning that your pictures will be smaller than the viewing window. Solve this problem by setting up your shots as if the top 20% and bottom 20% will be cut out of the frame (because they will).

Step 6: Unloading!

Find a dark place (preferably a darkroom, but if you don't have access to a photo lab, then a very dark bathroom will suffice). Remove your tape and pop off the back of the camera. Remove your film and unwind it from the wheel, be careful to touch the film only on the edges, otherwise your pictures might get your fingerprints on them.

This is kind of tricky the first time: Let the film fall as you hold the canister in your hands. Find the little round knob at the top of the canister and turn it so that it retracts the film back inside. Reel it all the way in.

If you plan on developing this yourself, the have at it. Otherwise, take your film to a photo place and get your pictures printed. It's best to do it yourself so you can make a contact sheet and stuff, because most non-pro labs will just print your pics automatically. Because we're using 34 clicks and not standard automatic reeling things, your pictures may be cropped or lost completely. At least make sure you get negatives.

Step 7: The End!

DONE! Enjoy your new 35mm Holga!



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    There's a way to unload film in a sweater, if you don't have a light-safe bag.

    Basically, fold the waist & hood portion up tight & stick your hands through the arms.

    It works in a pinch!

    There are any number of Holga-ish 35mm cameras out there to play with as well, I find mine in thrift stores and consignment shops. Easy to use, easier to load and I rarely give more than a buck. Holga's and Diana clones are ridiculously over-priced for what you actually get.

    1 reply

    The only thing is that the majority of the 35mm Holgas don't have the "qualities" that most lomofans want.  The 35mm BC Holgas are probably the closest you can get to a real medium-format Holga.

    But those who want to do lomography really aren't as worried about the price-for-what-you-get.

    Thanks for this! Pretty helpful, although I'm visual and the blurry photos weren't as helpful as a sharper image would have been. Ah well I sorta got the idea.

    I think taping the *inside* of the viewing window helps to keep out light even more.

    The following link really helps with the "34 click" rule thing as well:

    You've got a nice, clear and useful instructable. I completely agree that there is no point in using a Holga for Medium Format, because the terrible quality of the lens means that you loose all of the resolution that makes Medium Format worthwhile in the first place.

    For the peeps who don't know, and might be thinking of going holga, I feel obliged to say something about holgas. They are crappy cameras. They might look cool, but not as cool as any ancient LOMO you can find on ebay for cheap from E Europe. They are ultra-cheap to manufacture - hence the "arty light leaks" and plastic lenses" - and heavily marketed as though they are something special. It's clever marketing, but think about what you are spending cash on. They now sell for more than you can get a decent (glass lens, variable f-stop, fully functioning) used medium format camera for.

    If you like the holga-photo look, and want to use 35mm film take any cheap point and click camera (even a one-use), bash it about to introduce tiny random cracks in the frame (=light leaks), and put different bits of opaque / not-100%-transparent plastic in front of the lens. Or use a digital camera and look on google for how to photoshop the holga look.

    Anyway, if you've got one already hack it!

    1 reply

    it's not for the resolution that people buy holgas, although mine does really well, better than my other MF, it's mostly for the odd effects, ability to double-expose as much as you want, etc. it's really a toy camera that takes some amazing pics, and mine focuses really sharply.

    How many pictures do you get out of a 35 mm roll? I used the 34 click rule, but I don't know when it's done. Help!

    1 reply

    I haven't done this in a while, but i remember that you can definitely feel it when it ends. My guess is a little less than 24 because I think 34 clicks gives more room than a regular camera would.

    Es una buena práctica, pero faltó la foto de cómo se ve el negativo impreso. Es esa imagen por la que vale la pena la modificación. La imagen se plasma sobre todo el negativo, incluso sobre los sprokets.

    Why? I know Holgas suck but why take a medium format and change it to a 35 mm. So wrong. Just buy one of the many crappy 35 mm out there. Other than that pretty nifty.


    That is why you unload in total darkness.

    2 replies

    Read the instructable. It says to unload it in a darkroom

    Darkrooms don't always have a safelight on. You turn off the safelight to unload your film, just like you would do if you were reeling any kind of film to develop it yourself. Total darkness. Sorry I didn't make that clearer.

    A darkroom wont do when unloading, you cant have ANY light at all, even a safe light will expose your film.

    I thought this was very well done. The pics were a bit blurry but i got the point. I have avoided holgas in junk stors and such just because of the film issue. Next time i see one i'll pick it up and try this.