Looking for a fun way to get kids interested in photography? Want to break into the art yourself but cant spring for a pricey SLR? Looking to upgrade to medium format but don’t know if you should spring for that Seagull TLR? Are you trying to break out of the formality of 35mm photography? A Holga might be the camera for you.
Personally I’m not sure what made me want to go out and buy a Holga. I had been thinking about working with Medium format film for a while, but I had the option to rent a camera from school for free. The reasons are as lost to me now as they were the day I sent my friend Kelly an instant message during our Art Criticism education class.
Me: I think I want to buy a Holga
Kelly: Do it!
Me: I think I’m going to pick one up on my way to work.
Kelly: Do it!
Obviously Kelly was all on board, she is a Holga fanatic herself. Luckily for me I work right across the street from Precision Camera so after a quick bus ride from campus to work, I went into Precision and checked out the offerings of Holga cameras. They had almost every color but my favorite: purple. This was slightly disappointing, but I decided to go for the black camera. I was thinking I would eventually resent a pink one for not being purple, and the black one had a built in flash a feature that the colorful models lacked. After plunking down a mere $45.00 I picked up some 120 film and headed out. This camera was everything I hoped it would be. It is fun, experimental, and really broke me out of the shell I was growing with photography.
Why are Holgas great for kids? They are relatively cheap, so if they loose interest you haven't wasted too much money. And the negatives are big, so if you are going to try printing the photos rather then having them done at a photo lab, then the child can see the image better then they would on 35mm negatives. And there is always the crazy experimentation that kids love, the Holga was made for that.
If you are getting a Holga know that out of the box there are no instructions on how to use it, so your going to have to go online to figure out things like how to load the film, what the buttons on it do, and what the quarks of the Holga are. I’ve tried to put some of that info here so you don’t have to look too far.
Helpful Holga Facts:
The Holga is a rangefinder, this is different from most cameras that everyone knows.
Distance settings- Shown with images. you can select portrait, small group, large group and infinity.
F-Stops- The Holga has two F-stop settings, cloudy/ flash and Sunny
Shutter Settings- shutter speed can be controlled by the F-stop or be held open for long periods of time, this switch is located at the bottom of the camera.
Flash- The batteries that power the flash are located behind the mask in the camera. In cameras that do not have a flash there is an attachment spot for a flash to be attached.
Holga Halo- the vignetting around the edges of the photo that occur on a sunny day. this is caused by the over hang of the plastic around the lens.
Blur- Holga photos often turn out blurry around the edges. This can be frustrating, but it is one of the things that gives the Holgs its charm.
Light leaks- Due to the inexpensive nature of the camera there are often light leaks around the edges. this can be controlled by taping the camera at the edges. Some people enjoy the leaks as they are each unique to each camera.
Printing tip: Holga negatives tend to be flat, embrace using filters, they will make your images rock.
General Holga Info: this includes info on the odd quarks that your camera might have, along with photo examples. This should give you pretty much all the info you need.
Wikipedia 120 film
Until Next time, check out some of my Holga images above.