The Holga gained a status of a "cult treasure", but in fact it is a very simple photographic device (toycamera), made of ugly black plastic and is sold overpriced in my opinion. But that is true for many "cult treasures". What I like about the Holga is its versatility, the vignetting plastic lens and the accidental effects resulting from its cheap construction (e.g. light leaks). The non-reproducible production of the lens and the body makes each Holga special and singular.

I own a Holga 120 CFN:

  • 120 stands for 120 roll film format
  • CF for colour flash (red, blue, yellow and white)
  • N for new (B-exposure setting, tripod thread)

Features of the Holga are:

  • Plastic lens with f=60mm (wide angle for 6x6cm format) and strong vignetting
  • Mechanical spring shutter with 1/100 s and B
  • 2 Apertures of f/8 and f/11
  • film transport not coupled with shutter cocking (easy double exposures or pseudo-panoramas)

The Holga produces pictures with strong vignetting and strange focussing. Accidents happen (light leaks, wrong exposures, lens cap on etc) but are part of the Holga feeling. Try it, it is fun to use. 

The Holga is very open to manipulations and modifications. The most popular one is loading the Holga 120 with 135 film. This is easy to do and brings up the nice "sprocket hole effect". Of course also with 135 film multiple exposures are possible (see Example 2). 

btw. all examples in this post are pictures I took within the last year with my Holga and originally posted them at flickr


 With the film transport under full control of the photographer (to the best and to the worst) pseudo-panoramic capture are easy to produce.

Other examples for Holga typical employments are colour flash double exposures (on 135 film - see below, left) and mounting of an opaque transparent paper just infront of the film layer acting as a diffusing screen (see below, right).