holga 35mm modifiction

35mm holga with sprockets
because 35mm film is smaller that the medium format 120 film that the holga was designed for, you get a cool effect of the image bleeding across the 35mm sprocket holes.
view examples of photos i have taken with my holga

click below for text notes…

text notes from the slideshow above:

  • i recommend gaffers tape, it is easy to use and does not leave a residue. it’s made by permacel and available on amazon .com…
  • i discarded the plastic (4×4 or 4×6) insert and covered the two plastic runners with electric tape to reduce friction as the film drags across these areas.
  • you can get the alphabet pads at a thrift store, toystore or walmart, cheap-cheap.
  • cut the pads to hold the 35mm canister in place. if your camera does not have foam under the spools you will need to add some.
  • a 1/4 inch wide piece of folded cardboard is wedged below the takeup spool to add enough friction to keep the film taut but still easy to wind.
  • the rubber bands act as guides for the 35mm film but you could probably get away without using them…
  • i always tape the film to the takeup spool.
  • it takes 34 clicks (or 1 and a half rotations if you’re lazy like me) to advance the film between shots.
    i use the 1.5 turn method because it is a lot faster and wastes less than 1 frame on a 36 exposure roll.
  • note: to create a holga panoramic photo (like this one) wind the film 30 clicks and then take the next shot. you’ll need to scan your holga panorama yourself unless you have a friendly lab 🙂
  • i add a thin piece of the foam on top of the canister to help fix it in place.
  • the film plane is nowhere near flat so i add some thin cardboard to the back of the holga to help flatten it. if you also shoot 120 film in your holga you will want to cut a hole to see the counter (unless you use the 1.5 turn method for 120 too).
  • don’t foget to tape over the counter window, 35mm film does not have a paper backing like 120 does. NOTE: Cover the window with aluminum foil and use tape to hold the foil in place, the tape itself is probably not light proof (i learned this the hard way).
  • i tape the latches up so that the back does not open by mistake (not fun).
  • after exposing your images, you will need to open the camera (DO THIS IN COMPLETE DARKNESS!) and wind the film back into the canister.
  • Color Services processes my film. They are awesome and offer a great mail service including scans of your developed film.
  • If I don’t have COlor Services do it, I scan the negatives on an epson 4990 flatbed scanner.

click here to return to my holga hacks page…

Holga 35mm photo


  1. hey i got a question about the rolling back of the roll when its finished
    should i take it back into the canister with my hands (in complete darkness of course) or is there any trick or thing else i need to do then?

  2. Love your pics!! Just bought a 35mm film adaptor off amazon for my 120 Holga. Can i still get those awesome perforations using the adaptor? What do you think. Thanks!!

  3. good tips!

  4. 35mm hack is awesome for the Holga. I should be getting some results back this week!

  5. Ok so I got my Holga a few weeks ago, and I soon realized that 120 slide film is crazy exspensive to develope. So I hit the internet to see what I can do to maybe use 35mm. I liked the pictures with the pin holes, but I wanted to get rid of them. So I followed the same process, but I used some electrical tape on the top and bottom of the film roll to hide the holes from the shutter. It is a cheap mod, but it really works, and it looks great, you still get the same effect and look as 120, but with about half the price.

  6. hello!
    i tried the 35mm trick and i ran into a bit of a problem. i took the film to my local costco and they developed the film but couln’t make prints or scan them. for some reason i didn’t realize the pic on the film would be so large. help! does anyone have any suggestions where i can take my film. oh, i also tried the local camera store and he told me the same thing.


  7. Oops. Sorry! My fault. Should be 1.5 turn.

  8. How about the turns for 35mm wide angle adaptor? Still give a 1 1/5 turn?

  9. Great info! I love love love my holga and was told I can use 35mm film but didnt know how – you gave me some great info! I am goign to go out this weekend to try it out! Wish me luck! Thanks!

  10. I just got my 35mm Holga adaptor today, so excited! I found it tough to find anywhere near me that develops or even sells 120 film lol. Going to go out tomorrow and take pictures, never used this camera before. I was worried it felt a bit unstirdy generally so your page has been really helpful. Thanks! Hopefully some pics will come out:)

  11. Hey,

    What 35mm film are you using, slide? I recently took my holga into a concert and took some pics, (fairly close to the front :)) i only had velvia 50, but i’m unsure as to x-proccess it or not..I really wanna keep it normal but i’d rather have the shots turn out x-processed than not at all!! It was pretty bright with the lights etc, but im not sure how it’ll turn out because the exposures are most likely nowhere near accurate.. any suggestions from your experience? Because this is the best 35mm holga action i’ve seen!

  12. YESSS!! I’ve finally gotten to it! I’ve opened up my Holga box, gone by the dollar store to buy foam, and have made the “modifications” you so nicely explained in your photo-tutorial-for-dummies-like-me. I’ve dropped that PJ800 film in there and am ready to rock!

    Dunno how it’s all going to go, but hope it all turns out. It’s funny how moving back to film from digital makes me nervous. I wonder what that’s all about… It’s like there’s some sort of finality to it, as in, the shot is the shot, no deleting. Oh not to mention the lack of “instant gratification” digital brings to the photo experience.

    Either way, I’m off to shoot my first Holga roll!

    Cheers mate!

  13. what ISO film do you use? beautiful shots.

  14. got my holga. let the cursing begin.

  15. mph, i’ll send you some film…

  16. okay im tired of seeing you have all the fun with a camera named holga, so i just forked out my $20 and got my own.

  17. Greg, another option for foam is available at Wal-mart (though I try not to endorse them… maybe Target has them). In the craft section, there are foam things, such as a foam door hanger for $0.67. It is half as thick as the blocks you used, so obviously it must be doubled up.

    My camera arrived today, and I’m trying a new roll of 35mm. Can’t wait to see the results. What fun trying to get used to film again!

  18. Nice one – I’ve recently bought a Holga and you guide and photos are dead help. Nice job with the 35mm shots.

  19. Fa-bu-lous!! I feel this will really come in handy in the coming weeks… 😉

    Thanks for this!

  20. man, i’ve seen plenty sprocket shot but yours are hands-down THE coolest…

  21. Thanks! Excellent resource.

  22. now UR really tempting me to buy one! good job.


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