OK, I admit it. I’m a camera geek. While most of the time, I’m happy to use my Canon 5D MkII, and I love my little Olympus E-P1, that doesn’t stop me wanting to play with more photographic toys. But since a Leica M9 or any variety of Hasselblad would be a little more expensive than I could really justify at the moment, I decided to try something a little less expensive, and indeed a little less sophisticated:
This is it. It’s a Holga 120N, which cost all of £40 including a couple of films. Yes, films. Light-sensitive material on rolls that you have to physically insert into the camera before taking pictures, then remove and pass to someone to perform chemistry on before you can see what you’ve captured.
Holgas are strange beasts – cheaply (some would say badly) made, with plastic lenses and minimal controls (four distance settings, and a cloudy or bright setting). This is the most basic kind – there are some with built-in flash, but I decided to avoid that. No batteries, nothing other than a shutter release (with a dinky spring) and a wheel to advance that film stuff. Oh, and this is none of your fancy 35mm cartridge stuff – this is yer good old fashioned 120 roll film. You can get either 12 6cm x 6cm pictures or 16 6cm x 4.5cm exposures – you have to fit the appropriate lump of plastic inside before loading the film, then set a slider on the back to show the appropriate frame counter (the numbers are printed on the back of the film).
There’s an enthusiastic culture that’s built up around these cheap cameras, with lots of odd pictures on show at Lomography. It’s about as far as you can get from the precise images produced by today’s digital cameras, and that’s probably the attraction. It’s more organic, or something. Anyway, I got it to have a play, and to see what I can get out of it. I went for a wander with it at lunchtime, then dropped off the film for processing. I should get the quite probably dire results back tomorrow.
I’m expecting odd-looking pictures with signs of light leakage, fuzziness and vignetting. Or possibly just a general mess. All good fun, or something!
 That’s in addition to being a general-purpose geek, and any other kind of geek I might be, of course
 Well, a lot, actually.
 Even more of a lot
 Some people prefer to do the chemical stuff themselves, but I recall how bad I always was at doing practicals in chemistry, so that won’t be me