Holga has enlighten the analogue world of photography, alongside with Diana, Fisheye and many others. The Holga is able to produce truly unique images such as uncontrollable light leaks, soft focus and retro edge vignetting; features that are considered defects in conventional cameras nowadays.
The Invention of Holga
The Holga got its name from the Anglicized pronunciation of the Chinese characters for “very bright”. Designed by T.M. Lee in 1981, who wanted to create a camera that was low-budget and accessible to the Chinese main market for capturing family photos and portraits.
Categeorized as a toy camera due to its simple and inexpensive design, the early Holga cameras were made almost entirely of plastic, some even had plastic lenses.
Holga Meets West
The earliest models used a 120 medium format film, a format most pervasive during that time. Unfortunately, buying power and hunger for better technology increase as the Chinese middle class grew with the economic reform in the 80s.
No one predicted the influence the 35mm film would have on the Chinese market and in a few short years, Holga gave in to the new paradigm of the 90s technology boom.
Because of its all-plastic design, word of the Holga spread outside of mainland China to the West and its popularity grew. The manufacturer began distributing tens of thousands of them in twenty different countries with almost no change in the original design.
Understanding the Models
There are an array of Holga camera models like: panoramic, pinhole, stereo 3D, TLR (twin lens reflex) and many more.
In short, if a Holga model name includes:
a F (eg. Holga 120FN) – comes with a built-in flash
a C (eg. Holga 120CFN) – comes with a built-in color flash
a G (eg. Holga 120GN) – comes with a glass lens
a P (Holga 120PC) – it is a pinhole camera
a TLR (Holga 120TLR) – it is a twin lens
a PAN (eg. Holga 120Pan) – it is a panoramic version
a 135 (eg. Holga 135) – it takes 35mm film
Another unique feature of the Holga is that since the film advance knob is manual, you are able to do multiple exposures! And by advancing the film partially, you are able to create panoramic or overlapping images. How your photos will turn out entirely depend on how creative you can get.
Just check out some of the cool photos shot by a Holga below!
Are you ready to join in the Holga cult following?
People use Holga from landscapes to still life to street photography to everything else in between. Whether you are a pro or a newbie, getting a Holga is a cheap option to add to your collection. Owning a Holga will not only add fun to photography but also improve your camera skills and creativity.