22 May 2011

The Holga Camera

Susan Brannon
20 May 2011

The Holga camera is an inexpensive medium format “toy camera” made in China.  The camera is known for generating pictures of blur, leaking light, distortions and vignetting (clear in the center and fades in the edges).  Some photographers have won awards using the Holga camera in news and art photography.

The camera first appeared outside of China in 1982.   Once the Holga hit the foreign market, photographers started using the Holga for its surrealistic, impressionistic scenes for landscape, still life, portrait, and especially, street photography.  David Burnett won a prize for the image of former vice-president Al Gore during his campaign using the Holga camera.

There are several types of Holga camera’s; light weight, fixed shutter speed, plastic lens, glass lens, built-in-flash, color flash, twin-lens reflex, 6x4.5 or 6x6 format, pinhole versions, 26mm versions, switchable from standard to panorama format,  in 110’s, 120’s, and 24x36.  There is an aperture setting switch from sunny and cloudy, with a normal value of  f-11 and f-8/ 

My advise is to use ISO200 speed films and shoot in the sunlight for best results. With the Holga you can shoot 16 exposures with a 6x4.5 format or 16 exposures with the 6x6 format, that you can choose the option on the backside of the camera.

However, when choosing the option by viewing the “window” do NOT look next to the red window but instead pointed to the arrow on the switch.

Using the Holga is pure fun, and you can adopt the camera to suit your needs, by learning to change its parts.  The plastic lens breaks up the sterility of the digital lens and creates colourful and blissfully innocent images. 

Here is a great link to learn to “hack” your Holga, troubleshooting, and techniques for the Holga at Life through the Plastic Lens. http://www.squarefrog.co.uk/

Related lessons:
Aperture and f/16 Rule
Shutter Speed Basics

Depth of Field
Focused Bracketing or Photo Stacking 

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