Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The "Isolga" hybrid camera

I have always loved my Agfa Isoly camera. I always thought that if I had to design a toy camera from the ground up, it would have the build quality of the Isoly. The original Diana cameras were based on the Isoly. Of course, cameras like the Diana and Holga have those wonderful cheap plastic lenses and the lens on the Isoly is pretty blah (although I like the quality of flare you get with it).

Recently, with some spare time and a lens from a busted Holga, I decided to attempt a lens transplant. Removing the lens element from both the Holga and the Isoly is a pretty straightforward process. It just involves removing a couple of screws and popping the lens element out of each lens barrel. (I am not transplanting the entire lens barrel here, just the lens element). The Holga lens has a clear plastic flange around it which does need to be filed down to fit snugly into the Isoly lens barrel. The whole process took only about a half an hour. (Sorry that there is no accompanying step by step video but that's just not my thing.)

I  like the resulting image quality from this camera. The results seem softer than I get with a Holga. It also seems to flare quite easily when pointed at the sun. You also lose the Holga vignetting as the lens is only covering a 4x4 image rather than a 6x6. But you do get 16 square images on a roll of film rather than 12. And although there is no double-exposure capability on the Isoly, there is an additional shutter speed of 1/30th of a second (in addition to 1/100th and B) with apertures
of f8 and f11.

This is hardly empirical testing since it is only based on my initial reactions to shooting one roll of film. But it is something that I will continue to shoot with for awhile and I will post more images
both here and on flickr. If anyone wants more info or has a comment, drop me an email (or leave a comment here).



  1. Jim,
    If this picture is any indication, your hybrid is definitely a winner.

  2. I like your style, use a photographic language interesting.

  3. Like a moment of clear reality glowing from within a dream world...It looks as if you've created a perfect camera!

  4. This is gorgeous and very, very creepy.