Why every photographer should try a Holga

If you prefer to watch videos, check out my video review of the Holga 120S!


Alright, now on to the in depth review!

Okay so if you've gone through the trouble to find this blog post and skipped the video (or better yet already seen it) you want to know what is all the fuss about this camera. The Holga 120S is a unique toy camera. This camera is one of a kind, every image is very different from the next. This particular camera appeals to a subset of photographers called "lomographers". Lomography is a style of pop photography based around quirky cameras.

So what is a Holga anyways?

It came from China and went around the world. In 1982 a company in China began producing the Holga camera, it was originally only intended for the low end Chinese camera market. But today it has attained cult classic status. I believe that it can be a great camera so introduce photography to beginners, or bring a spark of lo-fi inspiration to even season photo veterans. Despite it's humble beginings and unassuming looks, there's a reason this camera has been dubbed the, "plastic fantastic".

So how do the pictures look?

The photos that come out of a Holga are really one of a kind, you really can't quite reproduce it with a simple Instagram filter of digital effect. There is the ever present vignette which to some is ugly and distracting but to the many fans of the "lo-fi" look it is nostalgic and interesting. DP Review phrases it nicely stating in their review, "characteristic vignetting focuses the viewer's eye and adds to visual impact". Unlike many other toy cameras, like the popular Diana F+ and Lomo Lubitel, the Holga lens makes really sharp images in the right conditions, mainly bright sunlight. Although the camera has frequent light leeks and film burn throughs that is part of the ultimate looks of the images, and a coveted features for many lomographers.

Here's a gallery of images I took on my 120S and Lomography 100 speed color film.

But isn't super cheap and plasticky?

If you really want a camera thats so light you'll forget that its there, this is the one for you! However if you area bit rough with your equipment this camera can come apart easily. As the Lomography.com staff review puts it, "the Holga is extremely lightweight and fuss-free". It is important to remeber that even though everything on this camera is plastic, even the freaking lens, its not exactly exspensive. If you might constantly regret not taking a "higher quality" camera when you go out to shoot, frankly, this camera isn't meant for you.

So how much does this cost?

This is where the catch is right? A cool vintage film camera for hipsters has got to be overpriced right? Actually this camera can be had for only $25-$35. At this point there is really no reason not to give it a try! This is one of the very few toy cameras that is currently sold at a price that doesn't feel like your getting gouged. You get what you pay for, and in this case it's a rather fun toy camera! The Holga cameras feel very raw and ungentrified, with their cheap build lo-fi images and low price to match. All in all it's very easy to enjoy shooting when your using this camera, and that's something that we seem to forget today, when we have high tech Sony cameras with 45 megapixels, and AR dual phone cameras, we forget to have fun sometimes... and nothing is more fun than using this little toy camera!