I have this strange love of toy cameras. I like taking photos with my cell phone and I absolutely adore my Holga 120-S.
For those who don’t know the Holga is a very simple camera. It has two settings for light – sunny and cloudy – and the focus ring has pictures instead of an actual focusing distance. It shoots 120 film – as far as I know it is the cheapest camera on the market that does – and the plastic lens gives interesting distortion effects.
When you get your Holga you have to discover for yourself the distortion effects of the lens – every lens is different. My wife has a Holga 120-S just like mine, but it has different distortions. Her Holga has a much crisper focus than mine.
Holga’s cheap plastic body leaks light like a sieve. My Holga is covered in gaffers tape to suppress light leaks, but I have seen photos from other Holga enthusiasts that swear by the interesting effects of the leakage.
Holga does not have through the lens viewing. That means that what you see when you look through the viewfinder is not exactly what you get when you take the picture. So you have to offset yourself a bit.
Holga is a scruffy looking camera. It’s great for throwing in your car – you aren’t going to be broken-hearted if it gets stolen. It’s great for taking on exploratory trips – you aren’t going to be heartbroken if it get drenched in salt water either, and if you drop it then it is far more likely to survive unscathed than your $2,000 DSLR.
There is a lens attachment called a lensbaby that can turn your SLR or DSLR into a Holga, introducing selective distortions into your photos. Lensbabies run $65.00 – $270.00 depending on what sort of lens you are buying them for. The current line of Holgas is running $28.00 – $40.00 Of course, the lensbaby lets you control your distortions – Holga just gives you whatever distortions it is built with.