The biggest benefit to shooting with a digital camera and a Hogla lens is the fact that you can shoot at much higher ISOs.
There are three ways to adjust the exposure of an image. Shutter speed, (how fast the shutter opens and closes), aperture, (blades inside the lens open and close to allow more or less light in), and ISO, (in the old days it was a measure of how light sensitive the film you were using is).
With a film Holga there is no way to adjust the shutter speed and only two apertures available. The only way to really adjust exposure is through ISO.
The higher the ISO rating of the film you buy , the more light sensitive it is. Most film available in the 120 and 220 formats the Holga uses are in the 100 to 400 ISO range. There are some films that’ll even go as high as 3200 ISO but the quality of the images tends to suffer when you get that high.
The images get grainy and flat. The tonal range, the number of different shades of grey between the blackest of blacks and the whitest white gets very narrow.
This means, most of the time, you’re fairly limited in the situations you can capture on film with a Holga because you need a good amount of bright daylight to fully expose the film. Outdoors, during the brighter times of day, you’re okay but later in the evening, you might as well give up trying to capture the longer shadows and dramatic scenes of the magic hour before sunset.
Digital cameras, however, have made huge advances in the levels of light sensitivity in the last decade. You can shoot a digital camera at ISOs of 6400, 128000 or even 256000 and still capture images with much better quality than you can with the fastest flims.
Throw in the greater flexibility you get when it comes to shutter speed and you have vastly improved control over exposure with a digital camera and a Holga lens. This give a photographer the flexibility of being able to shoot in much lower light situations. I captured the image above at night, under regular household lights in the office of my home. Had I attempted to take the same image with a traditional Holga, even with 3200 film, it would’ve come out black and completely underexposed.
While most of my ghost town images are shot during the day, there are quite a few times when shooting the interior of buildings for example that I;d get frames that were barely more than squares of black.
That’s probably the biggest reason for shooting digital and Holga lens. I can go anytime and shoot anything. I don’t have to wait for high noon and I’m not limited to the out of doors.