Holga WPC 120 (Wide pinhole Camera)

The Holga WPC 120 (Wide pinhole Camera) is a simple plastic box with a pinhole behind a shutter for 120 film, 2 formats: 6x9 and 6x12. It was produced and sold from China, but also sold by Lomographische AG. It's a toy or fun camera, all plastic. It has just the basics. There is no finder, just an indication of its angle of view. It has a tripod socket, a bubble level, a film advance via red window and a shutter with cable release socket, which has to be pressed as long as you have to expose, which can be minutes. So a cable release with a blocking device is necessary.

There was a kind of hype about it, and as it's not produced any longer, prices for second hand WPCs have gone up, but it still can be found for reasonable prices if you are patient. The 6x9 frame and the cap usually have gone lost, as on mine, but you don't need them really. Except some fancy blogs there is little reliable information about the camera on the web.

Size (mm): 202 x 95 x 54
Weight: 217 g
Pinhole: 0.3mm, F 135
Shutter: B
Film advance: red window

Here are some photos of the camera. There is a short introduction to the use of it and how it feels at the bottom of the page.

Camera front. Shutter release.

Seen from the back. 2 red windows, slider for choice, one stays open.

Seen from the bottom.
Ttripod socket.

Seen from above. B
ubble level, angle of view indication, film winding device.

Camera open, film chamber, back detached. There is thick foam to prevent "fat rolls", if you wind slowly, it works. I had problems with Lomo Redscale film, but this just might have been bad luck. In case of doubt, unload in a sleeve and wrap the roll with aluminium foil.

Photo taken with this camera. Sunny to cloudy winter day, HP5+
(400 ISO), 3s, Calais, Fort Nieulay. Shaded edges, typical pinhole vignetting.

Another photo taken with this camera. Sunny to cloudy winter day, HP5+ (400 ISO), 2s. Calais, Fort Nieulay.
Shaded edges, typical pinhole vignetting.

As said above, this is just the basics of a pinhole camera. Loading film is easy, you slide the 2 metal bars on each side down and the back comes off. Install the spools as usual, it's all cheap bendable plastic, but it works. Safely engage the film lead and close the back. Let the according red window open, 16 for 6x9 and 12 for 6x12. Advance the film via the knob until the number "1" appears in the window. You are now ready for the first photo. All further explanation supposes that you loaded 100 ISO negative film.

You can either judge exposure time via the table on the back of the camera or you use a light meter. Except expensive professional light meters you won't find f/128 (which is the nearest to F/135 of the camera). But in any case you will have f/22 on your meter. The row is: f/22, f/32, f/45, f/64, f/90, f/128*, so you have to count 5 more steps on your scale if present. Or double the reading 5 times.

Example: on a fine, sunny day your reading at f/22 is 1/8s. 5 steps or 5 times doubling gives 4s (1x= 1/4, 2x= 1/2, 3x= 1s, 4x=2s and 5x=4s). Then there is a second factor, called reprocity failure. For long exposure times the film needs more time to expose than a mathematical row would give. The factors are:

1s x 1.25
5s x 1.5
15s x 2
45s x 2.5
2m x 3
5m x 4
10m x 5
20m x 6

Our result was 4s, which is near to the 5s factor of 1.5. 4s x 1.5 = 6s. The table on the camera says 7-9s, which is o.k because "sunny day" is relative. In any case, with modern film you will have usable results. This is just a rough help, it's not scientific. If you want more precision, please have a look on the web. In any case you will need a tripod, otherwise you will have blurry photos by shake.

Having taken your photo you have to advance your film to the next picture. As the film numbering visible in the red window is for 6x4.5 resp. 6x6 format and you are using the double (6x9 resp. 6x12) you have to advance to the next uneven number (1...3...5...7...). DO NOT FORGET THIS. So with 6x12 format the last (6th) photo is at "11", and then it's over!

Holga WPC is a nice, very light camera. It fits into a big coat pocket, but needs a tripod and a cable release. It's Holga/Lomo, so it should be fun, no strive for quality. You should want and accept some surprise results. I like it well.

* Just in case that want information on smaller pinholes or longer focal length: the row coninued is: f/22, f/32, f/45, f/64, f/90, f/128, f/180, f/256, f/360, f/512. As it's quite commonv f/300 is half a stop between f/256 and f/360.