The Holga's cheap construction and simple meniscus lens often yields pictures that display
blur, light leaks, and other distortions. The camera's quality problems have become a virtue among some
photographers, with Holga photos winning awards and competitions in art and
The Holga camera was designed by T. M. Lee, and first appeared in 1982 in Hong Kong. At the time, 120 rollfilm in black-and-white was the most widely available film in mainland China. The Holga was intended to provide an inexpensive mass-market camera for working-class Chinese in order to record family portraits and events. After the cameras began to be distributed in the West, some photographers took to using the Holga for its surrealistic, impressionistic scenes for
portrait, and especially,
street photography. In this respect, the Holga became the successor to the
Diana and other 'toy' cameras previously used in such work. A Holga photograph by David Burnett of former vice-president Al Gore during a campaign appearance earned a top prize in a 2001 White House News Photographers' Association Eyes of History award ceremony.
Most Holga cameras use a single-piece plastic meniscus lens with a focal length of 60 millimeters and can focus from about 1 meter/yard to infinity. There is an
aperture switch on the camera with two settings: sunny and cloudy. Due to a manufacturing oversight in early production cameras, this switch had no effect, giving the Holga only one true
aperture of around f/13 — although these cameras are easily modified to provide two usable apertures. both this restriction and the 6×4.5 film mask as well, finding the resultant vignetting a desirable effect. Later Holgas were shipped without this film size restriction but still with the single aperture (Holgas can even be modified to use 35mm film.).
Modifications and variants
Holga cameras are often modified:
A Holga's interior can be "flocked"—coated with matte black paint—in order to limit the effect of light bouncing off the plastic interior from light leaks.
The Holga's aperture switch can be modified to provide a large ('cloudy') or small ('sunny') aperture.
The lens, and sometimes the entire shutter assembly, can be replaced with a pinhole (the "Pinholga").
The plastic lens can be replaced with a glass version (the "Woca").
Newer models of the camera come with multiple optional frame inserts (4.5 × 6 cm and 6 × 6 cm). Shooting without an insert can lead to problems keeping the 120 size film flat against the film plane.
Holga cameras may be fitted with a Polaroid back, allowing use of Polaroid 80 series instant film, or with newer models, 100 series film (but the image is not centered). This modification, sometimes termed a "Holgaroid" or "Polga", renders the viewfinder unusable, but allows for instant Holga prints.
By sandwiching a normal 35mm roll of film into the Holga's 120 spool, "sprocket hole" exposures may be taken that expose the entire surface of 135 film.
Cameras such as the Hasselblad have been modified to make use of a Holga lens.
Holga plastic lenses have also been adapted to the
Canon EOS, the
Olympus and Minolta. An f-mount, 'melted' plastic Holga lens has been used on a digital f-mount camera while the EOS Holga has been mounted to the latest
Canon DSLRs. Adapted lenses are also commercially available.
Holga camera Glossary. Basically, you should be
pretty much able to put any of these letters
together and buy that specific camera (i.e, want a
glass lense 120 holga with standard, no-color flash,
then what I need, is a Holga 120GFN).
Standard, as in
the original Holga 120S
means the new standard, the 120S was
replaced with the 120N
Glass, A glass
version of the standard plastic Holga lens
means the holga has a flash built in
Wide, for a
wide panaoramic holga
these letters will always be together, the
color flash enables you to change the color
on the flash that is built into the holga.
Anytime you see PC, it means the holga
doesn’t have a lense, but a pinhole instead,
along with a permanent ‘B’ bulb mode.
Corners, The standard 135 camera lacks a lot
of vignetting, so holga introduced the BC
version to ‘bend the corners’ of your photo
giving that much loved holga effect.
Dimensional. Basically, a holga with 2
Reflex, a holga with one lens for framing
and one for taking the photo.
A Holga 120S with a
Japanese-supplied glass meniscus lens, since
discontinued and replaced by the Holga
120GN, which recalled the lens nomenclature
Takes 120 Film
A standard Holga 120S, with
A Holga 120CFN with a
twin-lens reflex (TLR) viewfinder in lieu of
the standard viewfinder, with a relocated
A Holga 120TLR with glass
Takes 35mm Film
Takes 110 Film
Holga Medium Format Roll Film Cameras
1/3.2 inch CMOS color sensor, 8 Mega Pixels, 4:3 or 1:1 ratio, f/2.8 or f/8
Holga 120GN Medium Format – A Holga 120N with a glass lens
Holga 120GFN Medium Format – A Holga 120FN with a glass lens •includes a built-in flash Discontinued
Holga 120S Medium Format – The original Holga. Fixed shutter speed,
Holga 35mm Film Adaptor Kit
For Holga 120 Medium Format Cameras
This 35mm Film Adaptor Kit allows for the use of 35mm film in
any Holga 120 medium format camera. Supplied with easy to follow
instructions that will get you started quickly. This kit
includes a plastic insert that replaces your existing battery
cover/120 insert with one that guides 35mm film through the
camera with a solid back without red window. Please Note: To
remove 35mm film from your Holga camera after it has been
exposed you must use a changing bag or go in to a light tight
darkroom! You cannot take out the film from the camera in a
regularly lit room. Check Price
Holga Polaroid Instant Film Back
HOLGAROID IS BACK! This newest version accommodates both T80
series and 669/690 series Polaroid films! Turn your Holga into
the most unique instant camera you've ever seen with the new
Instant Film Back! It's custom-built to fit both all Holga and
Woca cameras, installing easily onto each of them within
seconds. It comes with a Polaroid type film back, a mask to hold
batteries in place in a Holga 120FN or 120 CFN camera, built-in
tripod socket a .3x diopter which adjusts the Holga's film plane
to accommodate the Polaroid back and newly designed plastic
viewfinder (included). This film back will accommodate Polaroid
T-80 series films as well as 690/669 size films. Please Note:
T-80 series films result in a full frame image. 690/669 type
films images are slightly off center. Check Price
Slip On Filter Adapter
Finally! An easy way to use filters with your Holga. This
adapter slips easily over the lens of your Holga or Woca camera
and stays firmly in place. No glue, hooks or tape needed.
Specially designed filters slide easily into place. Expand your
Holga universe and spur your creativity with this incredible
adapter. (Filters sold separately.) Check
12" Shutter Release Set
This Holga Shutter Release Set comes with shutter release
adapter and premium 12" shutter release cable with auto
lock/unlock mechanism. A custom adapter fits snugly over the
lens of your Holga camera allowing you to use a cable release.
Will not interfere with the new features of the Holga 12 0N, FN
or CFN including tripod mount and Bulb setting switch. A real
must have for every Holga Camera! Check
Holga Manual Shoe Mount Flash
With a GN of 22 meters (72 feet)
This all-manual compact light-weight flash features a
a hot shoe with a locking ring and a constant guide number of 22
meters (72 feet). It is designed for the Holga 120S camera, but
may also be used with other manual cameras.
Holga Four Color Filter Set
For Color or Black & White Film.
Includes: Red, Yellow, Blue, Green Filters The colored filter
set includes red, yellow, blue, and green filters and can be
used to create bold, vibrant images or adjust the tonality of
black and white photographs. In true Holga fashion, there is no
contrast or color-correction numbers on the filters. Must be
used with Holga Lens/Filter Holder Item #147120, sold
separately. Check Price
Split Image Filter Set
Includes: 1 - four-facet lens with center-focus, 1 -
three-facet vertical lens, 1 - three facet pyramid lens. See the
world in new ways with this three-lens set designed especially
for the Holga camera and the Holga Lens & Filter Holder. Each
lens in this set will surprise and please any photographer as it
splits, repeats and blends in totally unique ways. Set includes
1 - four-facet lens with center-focus, 1 - three-facet vertical
lens and 1 - three facet pyramid lens. Must be used with Holga
lens/filter holder Item #147-120. sold separately.
Holga Plastic Auxiliary Fish Eye Lens
For Holga 120 Cameras.
Holga Plastic Fisheye Lens.... This lens makes your extreme
wide angle images looks even more Holga-like with extreme
wide-angle distortion effects for a very reasonable price. Make
sure that subject is not more than 2 meters away when using
electronic flash. For use on Holga 120 cameras only. Not for use
with Holga and Holgaroid Polaroid Film Back. Check Price
Holga .5x Wide Angle Adapter Lens
For Holga 135 & 120 cameras.
The Holga Wide Angle Lens (approximately .5x) yields a wider
field of view than the standard Holga lens, allowing you to get
more subject in your photo! Easily fits over the existing lens
on all standard Holga 35mm and 120 cameras. Includes front and
rear lens caps and carry bag. (Holga camera shown for
illustration purposes only. Not included with purchase of Wide
Angle Adapter lens.)
K202 – Meow Kitty Camera
In the shape of a cat face with
The Holga K202 Cat Camera emits a meowing sound that aims to attract the
attention of the younger ones, causing them to stay
rooted. I guess using this 35mm film camera will
probably end up with plenty of shots where kids stare at
you looking puzzled, wondering where the sound came
from. Check Price
Shop for Holga Medium Format Cameras at These Stores