Thursday, February 17, 2011

HOLGA…the amazing plastic camera!


blog by Michael Raso

It’s easy to blow-off the Holga 120n as a cheap plastic camera but hard to ignore the wonderful images it produces.

“The Holga is a common medium format 120 film toy camera, made in China, known for its low-fidelity aesthetic. It is extremely popular among teenagers. The Holga camera was designed by T. M. Lee in 1981, and first appeared outside China in 1982 with its appearance in Hong Kong. At the time, 120 rollfilm in black-and-white was the most widely available film in mainland China. The Holga was intended to provide an inexpensive mass-market camera for working-class Chinese in order to record family portraits and events. Within a few years after the Holga's introduction to foreign markets, some photographers began using the Holga for its surrealistic, impressionistic scenes for landscape, still life, portrait, and especially, street photography. These owners prized the Holga for its lack of precision, light leaks, and inexpensive qualities, which forced the photographer to concentrate on innovation and creative vision in place of increasingly expensive camera technology.”

Holga 120N

THE INDEPENDENT "The Cult of the Holga"

Reports of “Holga magic” is not new. The mighty Holga has been in the media for over a decade, never failing to make an impression

The most famous image here in the US is David Burnett’s Al Gore 2001 campaign shot. Said Washinngton Post writer Frank Van Riper (of the Holga) - “a Chinese-made Holga, a laughably crude toy that, in the right hands, can perform miracles of light and shadow.”

Holga Al Gore / Washintgon Post - David Burnett

Holga images speak for themselves, proving Mr. Van Riper’s statement that a camera – even a cheap plastic camera – can produce wonderful images in the proper hands. Film or digital, throw the technical mumbo-jumbo out with the bath water…cameras do not make an image creative…people do.

Celebrating the Holga 120 camera, I’m thrilled to showcase some fantastic images from the Film Photography Podcast FLICKR Group Pool (shot by the listeners of The Film Photography Podcast).

FPP is giving away a Holga!
FPP listener Jason donated his classic Holga 120n camera. We’re giving away this gently used camera to one lucky winner on March 1, 2011.

To enter this contest, send your name, mailing address (and tell us a little about your film photography) to FilmPhotographyPodcast (at)

Entry deadline is February 22, 2011. Only one entry per person, please.

Missed this contest? Tune in to The Film Photography Podcast. We give away film-related items monthly!

About the Film Photography Podcast
Launched in October of 2009, the Film Photography Podcast is a 90 minute, bi-weekly Internet radio program, exploring a wide range of topics relevant to the experienced and aspiring photographer using film as a medium. Hosts Michael Raso and Duane Polcou enthusiastically dissect and debate the pros-and-cons of film formats, do-it-yourself techniques, digital technologies, and vintage and contemporary cameras and accessories in a thorough, informative and casual manner. Regular features include Camera tests and reviews, “book of the month”, interviews, a listener-generated Q&A, and film-related giveaways.

Produced in the United States, the Film Photography Podcast is broadcast around the globe via iTunes and direct stream from


Topimage by i_ate_that /

The Independent article on Holga

Holga Photographer Michelle Bates

PLASTIC CAMERAS Toying with Creativity by Michelle Bates
Michelle is the author of PLASTIC CAMERAS: Toying with Creativity

Frank Van Riper's Washington Post article "Daviud Burnett's Magic Box"

David Burnett on the web:

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