Holga 120 CFN
Holga 120 PC
Photo by Michael Tullberg
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E D I T I O N
E D I T I O N
Holga cameras have a near fanatical following of professionals, educators and artists. But, for those not familiar with the brand and its unique properties, a Holga is largely an enigma. This does not dissuade people from buying the camera. In fact, the Holga mystique draws people to it. In this guide, we will lift the veil that A partnership: The camera & photographer both contributed something to this image. shrouds the camera and give you Photo by Michelle Bates and her Holga. special insight into the Holga. We will explore the camera’s inner workings, show you how to use it, and discuss that special photographic “sensibility” the Holga is known for. HOLGA SENSIBILITY
The truth is something very different. Holga is not related to Diana, and the Holga was not designed with the Diana in mind. In fact, the people who manufacture the Holga were not even familiar with the Diana nor its substantial following. Designed and engineered in a factory in China, the Holga was initially introduced to the Chinese public in 1981 as an inexpensive camera using the most popular film format in the country at the time—120 size film. At that point, China was just beginning to open its doors to the world, and photography was skyrocketing in popularity. Unfortunately for the Holga, no one could have predicted the enormous impact 35mm film would have on the Chinese market, and after only a few short years the Holga was overrun by its smaller format competitors. But by then, word of this special all-plastic camera had spread west, and its popularity was growing. Tens of thousands of cameras were sold in twenty different countries with almost no change in its original design – a remarkable achievement of design stability. Then in 2000, the original Holga 120S was joined by the 120SF version which featured a built-in flash. By 2001, the Holga’s 20th anniversary, over half a million cameras had been sold worldwide. Since then, photographers have purchased tens of thousands more. In the same year, research found over one hundred Internet pages supporting, discussing and displaying photos from the Holga. A micro industry had sprung up, and people began making a living modifying and accessorizing Holga cameras. Today, the array of cameras and accessories available from Holga reflects its continued popularity among photographers. Joining the latest models, including the 120N, FN and CFN are the famous colored Holgas that make up the “Holgawood” collection, the fantastically wide-angled Holga 120 WPC, and the Holga 3-D Stereo Cameras. What’s in a name? Quite a lot, it seems, because many people still wonder With its plastic, low-contrast lens, the Holga can change how we interpret what we see in a photograph. Photo by Sherry Lee.
A Holga is a study in plastic imperfection, and to use it is an exercise in breaking free from dependence on technology, precision, and ubersharpness. The slight softness of the images, uncontrollable vignetting and peculiar light leaks create a partnership between you and your Holga. These “flaws”, accompanied by your creative choices, result in a quasiserendipitous form of art. A Holga stretches our visual perception. Using a Holga adds another facet to the way we see the world. We notice more things, and thus we examine and evaluate their status. A Holga is an educator teaching us a new visual vocabulary with which to describe our world. A Holga is a rule breaker. To use a Holga is to utterly change the terms of reference most people use to interpret photography. HOLGA HISTORY
Holga’s history is the stuff of myth and legend. Some say...