Long Live LoFi: The Fuji Film Instax 7s & The Holga 135
Living in foreign country can be quite an eye-opening experience, which, for a casual shutterbug like me, provides plenty of opportunities to indulge in my photography hobby. For the most part I shoot with my DSLR, the Sony A200, which never fails to impress me with it’s ease of use and high quality images. Lately, however, the crystal clear resolution of the A200, though impeccable, just hasn’t been doing it for me. Do I really need to see every pore on that person’s face? Do I really need to be able to count the nose hairs of the random guy standing in the background? The answer, at least for me (I don’t know what you weirdos are up to) is no.
Thankfully I’ve found a few lo-fi escapes from the digital world. The first is my new Fuji Film Instax 7s which I bought in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronic district for about $65. The instant film camera is an able replacement for the now deceased Polaroid camera of yesteryear. The controls are dead simple. Just pick your light setting – indoors, cloudy, a little sunny, really sunny – point, and shoot. Though the film is expensive (about a dollar per snap) the photos turn out just the way I like them: soft and fuzzy, washed out and warm. My favorite part about the 7S is that it takes business card-sized photos perfect for stashing in your wallet or sharing, you know, with actual people.
The second camera in my growing lofi fleet is The Holga 135, which I picked up in Seoul for about $50. Though it’s billed as a “toy camera” because of its plastic lens, this little guy can actually produce some pretty impressive results. With a rudimentary aperture and shutter settings, photos tend to turn out slightly dreamy and blurry; the perfect antidote the razor sharp clarity of digital cameras. It also has a non-coupled advance mechanism, which means you can take multiple exposures on the same frame before moving on to your next shot (see above right). The 135 model provides the same vignetting, light leaks and other random – though not unwelcomed – imperfections as other Holga cameras, but uses regular 35mm film which can be developed over the counter, perfect for anyone who lost their dark room access when they graduated high school.
I still love my A200, but these two lofi options have a charm that digital just can’t match.