Holga 135 TIM : Nice But Dim

I was quite entranced by the Holga 120N and with prices rising I thought I’d try this little plastic Half frame 35mm  camera that also offers 3D stereo shooting

Holga 135 TIM. Half frame #35mm #film camera. Cute or Creepy ? You decide
Holga 135 TIM. Half frame 35mm film camera. Cute or Creepy ? You decide

That said it isn’t a camera without issues.

Holga’s demise last year has led to a slight shift in prices although the 135 TIM is often the cheapest I’ve seen. The camera is based on the Holga 135 chassis  which has spawned a range of sub versions. The TIM (Twin Image Maker) features 2 lens  each shooting a half frame. These lens can be used independently and as they are ever so slightly angled they allow you to shoot 2 shots at the same time for 3d Stereoscopic images – a technique that dates back to the early days of photography. As you’d expect from Holga you can buy pretty much in any colour you want.

Stereo Midsteeple Diptych
Holga 135TIM shot taken with both lens open using Expired Kodak BW400CN film. If you were to use the images in stereo viewer you would swap over left for right etc.

Holga 135TIM Specs

  • Lens: Twin 29mm 1:8
  • Focus: Fixed
  • Metering: None
  • Aperture: f/8, 11 & 22
  • Shutter speeds: ~1/100 & B
  • Frame:  18×24 (x2)
  • EV (100ISO) : 13-16
  • Filter:  Proprietary Push on

This all is matched with twin plastic lens that are fixed focus and a choice of 3 apertures set my moving a slider in a curved groove set to look like a smile below the twin lens. The face like appearance is intensified by the paint work on the lens covers. I’m still undecided if the whole effect is super cutesy or just plain creepy. Probably it would look fine with a ten year old shooting with it – their dad might just look a bit weird.

Surveillance Diptych
Carlisle 2016. Holga 135TIM with AVP200

Both lens share the same shutter but whether they take a shot depends on whether you open their respective lens cover. The shutter needs to be cocked (an odd design choice as the Holga 135 and 120 usually will happily take multiple exposures). If you’re shooting with both lenses open this easy as the thumbwheel winder will do this for you. But is using the lenses independently there is also a multiple exposure (MX) switch (this is the only camera I’ve used with 2 methods). My biggest gripe with independent shooting is that it becomes hard to remember if you have or haven’t taken the second shot and you risk winding on with only half of the full frame exposed.

Holga 135TIM with Expired (2014) Kodak BW400CN. 2016

Another gripe is the Viewfinder is lifted from a normal 135 so isn’t adapted to show the portrait smaller field of vision for the half frame. Luckily if you use the centre it lines up well enough for both lens. For general use the camera manual recommends a minimum distance of 0.7 metres but I suspect the focal sweet spot is around the 3 metre mark. You must align the aperture correctly as it uses waterhouse stops so if you set between the aperture with be blocked. 100 ASA is the film speed which all the icons match for but as usual with a bit of nonce you can shoot any speed with it

Midsteeple detail
Dumfries Midsteeple 2016. Holga 135 with Expired (214) Kodak BW400CN

And it is really a game of 2 quite spectacularly different halves. If you get the exposure right  with the aperture closed down the lens is actually pretty good from a sharp technical viewpoint if under 10 metres (and probably best in 1-5m). I ran a roll of B&W 400 ISO C-41 film through and was pleasantly surprised. Widen the aperture and things become more woolly and with a general softness. Shots are best at nearer distances . There is a bit of a pincushion distortion at distance but less noticeable and the focal plane seems more even than the 120N.

Red Man
Carlisle 2016. Holga 135TIM with AVP200

For 3D shots the camera relies on 19th century cunning.  Just as then you create 2 images that are taken at just slightly different angles (obviously easy with this camera- but actually you can do with any camera just google it). Once the shots are printed out you swap the shots over and place them in a stereo view frame which you hold up to your eyes. The Holga intended version costs at the moment just a few quid as do the pouches to stick your shots in but if you are truely skin flint you could try printing your own paper/card 3d viewer like this viewer.

T.P Bell
Carlisle 2016. Holga 135TIM with AVP200.

The camera has a built in cable point and tripod mount both of which are neat given the fact there is a Bulb mode. A standard hotshoe mount is also a bonus but you’ll need a proprietary filter mountand filters

Odd camera really. If you get exposure right and remember where you are exposure wise has flashes of brilliance but can be a tad frustrating and not good wide open. If I had the chance to buy again and it was cheaper I suspect the Superheadz Golden Half would make more sense for me. It would have looked better too.

Why Buy ?

  • If under 18 y.o styling
  • Currently cheapest BNIB of Current half frames
  • Offers Stereo shooting
  • 3 apertures and 2 shutter speeds
  • Easy multiple exposure

Why not ?

  • If over 18 y.o. styling
  • Poor at open aperture
  • Lens not that distinctive
  • Hard to remember if taken second exposure

What I Paid

  • Paid £20 with free postage. BNIB with strap, lens cap and manual  on eBay in 2016


  • Superheadz Golden Half – Retro styled half frame shooter
  • Lomography Diana Mini – Retro plastic with half frame option
  • VUWS – Full Frame plastic fixed focus with corking plastic lens

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