« Know Thyself | Main | Color Photoshopping (and 'Falling Out of the Camera') »

Wednesday, 30 March 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My favorite thing about Holga is that it makes every mundane shot look like a still from a horror movie.

Light leak UFO: http://emptyspaces.aminus3.com/image/2009-04-21.html

Children playing sign: http://emptyspaces.aminus3.com/image/2009-02-12.html

With some kitchen sponges, extra 120 reels and rubber bands you can shoot 35mm with sprocket holes.

Most of all, it's fun to play with. And even if I never pick up my Holga again, I got my 30 bucks out of it. RIP, Holga, I think you probably taught me something.

I once bought a couple of disposable 35mm cameras and had a ton of fun using them around town. Results were "variable" but even the most blurry and light-leaked ones look great (to me, if no-one else). I've never managed to get that same feeling or freedom with any other camera.

Although you're entitled to call the enthusiasm generated by the Holga a 'fad', what you point out in this entry leads to think of it rather as a reaction.
As you say, even at the time of Diana's inception the photography industry had gone too far in the way of pursuing absolute image quality. As this pursuit of a chimera went on up to our days, so did the contrary reaction. Today's revival of film is the result of the push for ever 'better' image quality that led people to forget all about the essence of photography. The Holga user (as well as the Lomographer) is in the antipodes of the Nikon D810 owner who uses his camera to photograph his cat at different ISO sensitivities.
It's all too easy to scorn Holga, and Lomography and film photography, but the fact that so many are turning to film again - which is a movement of such vast proportions it cannot be downplayed as a fad anymore - is a sure sign many photography enthusiasts are turning away from the insanity of digital photography. (The best example of such insanity being provided by Nikon and its ISO 3,276,800-capable D5 camera.)
In a way, film provides greater liberty than digital. It ensures a more relaxed, less self-conscious experience, a ludic approach to creativity. The Holga movement, which was largely absorbed by Lomography, is the perfect example of a laidback way of photographing. Those people are not interested im creating masterpieces: they just want to enjoy the experience. I certainly envy their relaxed approach to photography.
The end of Holga production won't stop any of this. There will always be the Lomo cameras for the Holga orphans. Oh, of course - lomographers are, by digital photographers' standards, nothing more than 'hipsters', but those risible 'hipsters' helped keeping the enthusiasm for photography alive through the dark ages of digital perfection. One day justice will be done to them.
And I didn't even mention the high demand for old Polaroid cameras, or the surprising sales of Fujifilm's instant photography products.

The Holga: A notch below the Yugo.

Not sure about any relationship: http://www.holgadigital.com

Mirrorless cameras with adapted lenses can be Lo-Fi as well. Not the same as a leaky Holga, but perhaps able satisfy those looking for a Lo-Fi look. A lot of the lenses I am talking about are C mount and originally made for security cameras. Some of these lenses are sold in a bundle with an adaptor for specific mirrorless cameras.

This 25mm ƒ1.4 is a good example of these kinds of lenses. They usually say “TV Lens” on them.


I bought one and can confirm it is very low fidelity. It’s almost surprising that my three month old camera can take such bad pictures.

Now it seems the manufacturers are responding to the demand by improving this type of lens, which may not be what people are looking for. The better ones have “APS-C” on the lens.


I use Micro 4/3 mount as an example, but Fujifilm and Sony mirrorless mount bundles are available as well. Ebay has dozens of sellers. 35mm and 50mm focal lengths are two other options for these lenses.

I now have a lifetime supply of Holgas sitting on the shelf. I love shooting with them so much and they're so cheap I bought some and asked for more for Christmas.
I won't be Holga free!

Do check out Jacob Felländer's work with Holgas. Brilliant.

I confess that I was forced to shoot with Diana F cameras in photo school at Ohio University in 1969. I absolutely hated it and just couldn't understand the point. It took years to get over that. I'm a slow learner.

In more recent years I think I've finally learned the value of those cameras. I have one of those Holga lenses for my Nikon and I sometimes shoot with a variety of "lo-fi" setups, including pinholes and even drug store magnifying glasses duct-taped to the front of a camera. (My old Speed Graphic works well for that.)

But I remain annoyed by the many Holga shooters who seem to think using a Holga automatically makes anything they shoot into art. It takes more than a Holga. And, as I once told an avid Holga fanatic, "It doesn't have to be a Holga. You can shoot crappy photos with any crappy camera."

I think there are a couple Diana F's in a box in the attic somewhere, left over from my student days. (You had to buy 6 to get 2 that actually worked.) I wonder if they are worth anything to the fanatics now?

I have two, one for color and one for black & white (plus the flash unit, which I rarely use). These cameras put the fun back into photography when the pursuit for technical excellence becomes boring or tedious. For care-free shooting, I recommend loading up with ISO 400 monochrome film and developing in Rodinal 1:100, semi-stand. Nearly fool proof if shooting outdoors in daylight.

Pat Trent aka Senecabud

"All the tooling has been thrown away...." Think about that announcement before you buy your next Lenovo laptop.

Well, maybe I should hang on to my customized Holga for a couple more years and then sell it at a big markup. OMG I could double my money!

Mike, At one point I was about to buy a Holga lens for my SLR, but then Amazon India offered a low end digital camera at a price only slightly more than the price of that plastic lens. So I fell for that. Holga does not make the SLR any smaller or portable. But that $50 low end digital camera gives me a real second camera with the option of getting pictures as poor quality as a Hoga and sometimes better quality too. On top of that, it is really a shirt pocket size camera. I do not regret not buying a Hoga or buying a low end digital camera.

over the years i've gone through a dozen or so diana's and diana knock offs ending with the the holga which always seemed like the soccer mom of the bunch . . . but the real reason i'm here is to point out that the "cheap, plastic" qualifier really wasn't necessary . . . . . . . . .

Damn !!

Anyone else wonder why they felt it necessary to identify the lens as being "optical"? Perhaps there's a model with a Gravitational Lens. That would suck.

Dadburnit !! "They say change is good - but its not" Sheldon Cooper.

I often take a Holga when I go walking with my 8x10 field camera. I like the contrast between the slow precision and deliberateness of using the 8x10 and wing and a prayer experience of using the Holga. Besides, when I'm carrying the 8x10 gear the Holga's about the only other camera I have which is light enough to even consider putting in my bag.

Wasn't the Holga range going through a renaissance? Obviously my finger is as far from the pulse as ever. Slightly sad news this, though the 120N has never been my go-to machine.

I have to confess that I have never quite succumbed to the charms of the Holga. But, I have been very grateful to Holga users for helping maintain a market for film and, in particular, medium format film. I hope that the demise of the Holga does not bode ill for the ability to buy film for my anti-Holga (a Mamiya 7)!


Goodnight, sweet prince... I used various Holgas pretty heavily for about five years (~2005-2009), which happened alongside my initial adventures in dSLRland.

If you want to talk about pure photography devices, this is one of them: focal length, fixed; shutter, fixed at ~1/100th; aperture, fixed at f/11ish (there's a switch to go to f/8, but the arm that slides into place has the larger aperture on it - surgery required to make it work properly). Your only real controls on what happens are the framing and focus - both of which are also firmly on the iffy gut-feel side. I love, love, love that simplicity and directness: go find the picture and put it in the frame. Freedom through restriction.

Contrast this with the maximalism of the typical dSLR - buttons for days, a panoply of prime and zoom lenses, precise controls, video!, RAW!, cards! batteries! Oh my. In this period, I was very much settled that my dSLR was for everyday things and events, whereas the Holga was for capital-A Art. When I was going out to seriously shoot it was Holga in hand, unexposed rolls in left pocket, exposed on the right. Maybe a light meter would accompany me if I had a variety of films that day.

I was in love with that dreaminess for an extended period and definitely scored some shots that would be impossible via any other means - ones that will definitely be with me for life. But, in the end, I grew tired of the unpredictability after missing some killer shots with bad focus (the actual bad kind, not the cool bad kind). That's when we start to talk about cheap used TLRs...

And, ultimately, I've put film essentially to rest now, but that period will always be special to me. It also is what led me to eventually figure out that I am at my best with prime lenses and send me headlong into the warm embrace of Fuji.

I have one of these lenses mounted on a Canon body cap that I can put onto my DSLR. I was kind of disappointed with how good the IQ is. I mean, that's what I wanted, was a "crappy" look to the photos that I made with this lens, but they all just looked a little soft or a little out of focus. There does not appear to be any light leaks from this set-up, so maybe I should try some free-lensing with it?

For me, the Holga is a great antidote to agonizing about choices in lenses, focal lengths, speeds and apertures, ISOs, and the finer points of composition. It even blunts any desire to buy the latest gear.

If you treat the Holga as a real camera, the restrictions that it imposes can almost be liberating. I am very careful and never use ISO 400 film, shoot randomly or from the hip, or double expose.

Just use ISO 100 film (Fuji Acros is great), cover the red window with black tape, set the exposure to bright or not so bright sun, focus by the symbols (3, 5, 9 feet and infinity) and you are in business. Oh, and remember that the film sees a wider scene than does the viewfinder. And keep anything that you want reasonably sharp near the centre of the frame.

I have enjoyed taking mine with me on photo walks around town, shooting buildings and street scenes. A few years ago I took it to Cuba and shot old mansions and beach subjects. It was great fun and I still enjoy looking at the results.

My 120N has amply rewarded the time that I have spent with it and it has earned its prominent place in my cabinet of (much better quality) film gear. I'm sorry to see them discontinued.

Within a couple years there'll be a Kickstarter to revive the Holga, people will be scouring disused factories looking for the discarded tools, and the prices of 'new-in-box' models will have gone through the roof.

The Diana lives on, as the Diana F, from Lomography. As far as I can tell, mine is just like the original, but with the addition of a pinhole function, with or without lens. It makes suitably "crappy" pictures, especially the unintentional multiple exposures - one of which is my best shot with it so far.

My Holga lens mounted for EF didn't do much for me on the 5D. I think it may need the full 6x6 format to do its best work?

Wait... The Diana went away? Did that happen recently? Because I was aware of them being available at least ten years ago, I'm sure, and they seem to be still available, though the ones I'm familiar with may very well be either a reissue or even an inexact copy:


As for Holgas, I'd be surprised if plans aren't already available for a 3D-printed Holga, or something close enough. If not, it'll happen soon, so I'm not ready to admit that it's really gone.

So probably no digital Holga, I guess...

It had an 'Optical Lens'!

P.S. OK, I did some googling and I know now that the Diana I'm familiar with is the Lomography Diana+, a replica with some "improvements". They got rid of the 4x4 mask, for one, and the lens is removable, either for pinhole photography, or to replace with other optional lens.

It being Lomography, there are hundreds of flavors of Diana+ and a hundred accessories. I exaggerate, but I feel that there are way too many of either for a toy camera. On the other hand, it's a toy camera, so what's so wrong with it being marketed like other toys?

Whether it's a "better" or "worse" toy camera than the Holga seems to be a hotly debated topic (of course).

I have an "Anny" camera, which is worse, but better.

When I was doing large format prints a few years ago I was asked to take some Holga images and turn them into a photo collage for an Amanda Palmer 'Art Happening' in Berlin a few years ago. I was given the uncut roll of overlapped exposures with the instructions to 'crop anywhere,' adding another dimension to the randomness that is a Holga.

It turned out great!


I love Holgas, Diana's, Lomo L-CA's. I have two Holgas and the Holga Nikon mount lens. After I read this I went online to get a couple more bodies but the only ones left at B&H were the glow in the dark models, all basic black and colored bodies GONE.

Here's a shot of my fishing partner Rick, glassing for striper boils on the Potomac River at Fletchers Cove, taken with a Russian L-CA. There is something about the funky glass in all these cameras I just love.


Must dust off the Holga again, not used it for a while. I have had some pretty nice results from it, so well worth the twenty quid or so I paid for it.
If Fuji hadn't killed off pack film I'd have dug out the polaroid back as well.

They were what they were, and if you got one at an appropriate price level worth a punt.

I find that,through my incompetence, I can always negate any advantage to owning/using a Holga.

I sometimes use my Holga, it's a pleasure to be free sometimes from that High Tech aesthetic.
Photography, for us pure amateurs can be only pleasure! And it doesn't mean the photos have no value...

What odds on someone hatching a kickstarter project to revive it?

I've been experimenting with Fotodiox "compatible" glass adapters between old film lenses and a Nikon D90. I get Holga-like effects. Lass adapters can sometimes degrade the image quality of the lens; because you are adding a piece of optic glass that is not specifically designed for that particular lens, and sometimes there can be an adverse reaction in the optics. This can cause soft focus, chromatic aberration, image artifacts, etc. Most of which is normally avoided by most photographers. But what's interesting is the combination of sharpness and soft focus that is amazing, and very Holga-like, which changes from lens to lens...

Here's a Konica 40mm+Nikon D90:

If you would like to see what can be done with these cameras David Burnett has a gallery of Holga work on his site. His picture of Al Gore with a Holga is well known.

Just to add to a list, there are Holga lenses available for micro 4/3 and Sony, to name two that I have found. I use the lens on my micro 4/3 cameras and love it. I dedicated my oldest Olympus E-M5 to just that, making it my Holga. Whenever I feel stuck or in a rut, out comes the "Holga" I would add that a Holga that has no light leaks and good exposure is a treat. That cheap plastic lens, to my eye, really does an interesting rendition of color. Pastelly is the word that comes to mind.

Sad news. Luckily mine seems still to be in one piece after a few years of occasional use. I think 'Horror Movie' is a bit harsh! I love the 'foreign' look and when I put together a little gallery I called it Holgaland:

@ Bob:what does "glassing for striped boils" mean?

Just buy an old conventional MF camera. Might not have the artificial style of the old plastics, but hey, you can use Instagram if that's your bag

Sorry to hear this although I never owned or used a Holga - one of those things on my list I just never got around to. I bet you can get much the same effect these days with the Hipstamatic app on an iPhone.

I still have my Diana from my days at Ohio University in the early 1970s, where it was used to level the playing field among students taking Photo 101. The popularity took off with Nancy Rexroth's book "Iowa," which was actually mostly images of southeast Ohio. This was decades before Lomography hit the scene. If I remember right, the Diana was 99 cents at the art school's supply store. Had to use black electrcian's tape on the light leaks... Fun times!

Farewell to Holga.


First it is from Hong Kong not China. Really. Many of us make that difference. (Refer to a Spanish state may help you understand the emotion.). Other than a black yaschica I thought Hong Kong only produce two brand named camera. (China is worst here. Another story.)

Second it is the slide comes from one that told me to go back to film - holds, yaschica, Bronica, Leica, Hasselblad, 4x5 and then 8x10 ... Ended with a studio be my dark room! All because I saw colour in the slide which I cannot get from the digital photo.

The problem is that it is not imprefect; other than fix the light leak, it happened the one I have is a good camera (not exactly producing the rumour bad photos). In fact money wise I may now wsh it should be better to produce ugly photos.

[Thanks Dennis. Fixed now. --Mike]

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007