Holga cameras were first produced in Hong Kong in 1982. The Holga 120 was the very first medium film format with almost all it’s parts made in plastic.
The product concept of the Holga 120 was born our of the market situation prevailing at the time of it’s creation. At that time, which was the late seventies, the photographic market was dominated by 120 format cameras. These camera’s were precision optical ‘machines’ which naturally commanded high prices that were not affordable by the public in general. From such a background there sprang the vision of a dream 120 format camera which, while encompassing the basic functions needed of a camera on the one hand, would be priced at t a level within the reach of basically anyone on the other.
The project was commenced in the year of 1980 and it took two years before it came of the drawing board in 1982. However things had changed quite drastically during those two years and, by the time the Holga was released into the market, handy 135 cameras had already become popular.
Ironically and most unfortunately, the mass market of 120 cameras was already displaced by 135 cameras when the Holga became ready.
Nevertheless, it was not the end of the world. Although the mass market was gone, the Holga 102 still found itself welcome by consumers in the educational markets because, exactly in accordance with the product objective, it was and still is a very affordable 120 camera. The Holga 120 was recommended by teachers around the world, particularly in the United States, to photographic students because of it’s affordability and general capabilities. It is far from being perfect, but sufficient for the students to taught he fundamentals of photography, explore their talents and sharpen their skills.
Life is full of amazements. Just when it was the that the Holga 120 would only stay in schools, the Holga 120 suddenly dawned on a group of unorthodox photographic talents who, unlike their conventional counterparts, spotted the beauty of the camera in it’s imperfections.
The appearance of Dark Corners, the irregular edge of a photo caused by the accidental waviness along the edge of the film, the occasional partial light leak due to the inability of the plastic parts to shut out the light completely, ect, ect… have all converged to one point – the fun and uniqueness arising from unpredictability, almost on a random basis, and the satisfaction resulting from the creation of a piece of art which is the one and only one in the whole world. There are people who, half jokingly and half seriously that no two photos from a Holga would be alike as they are acts of God. It’s the unpredictablitiy of the Holga 120 that has fascinated, if not mesmerized altogether, it’s foams’ and made itself a popular product around the world.
The design of the Holga 120 was a thorough implementation of the concept of simplicity. Despite it’s simple construction and the use of plastic as a basic material, it has the majority of the functions expected of a basic camera. When the back of the camera is opened, basically all of the mechanisms of the camera show themselves immediately.
Other then the product concept of an affordable 120 camera in plastic, the Holga 120 also amazed the market at the time with an extremely special feature which dwarfed even it’s counterparts from the major camera brands – it has a built in flash, which was almost non-existent in those days.
Although it was started as a 120 format camera, adapters to enable the use of 135 films are also available. Moreover, through the efforts over the years to satisfy the needs of users, a whole line of accessories ranging from color filters to fisheye lenses, to wed angle lenses and to macro lenses have been developed to bring more fun.
Today, Holga Cameras, not only limited to the 120 model are love by multitudes of photographic enthusiasts in all four corners of the earth. Lovers of the cameras in China even created the cute name “Big Brother Monkey” which is a Chinese phonetic approximation of “Holga” pronounced in English, for the series. We are truly grateful of the patronage for Holga products which has been afforded to us by users worldwide. It is our pledge to continue to devote our resources and the best of our efforts to developing more products in the range for the fun and enjoyment of all those who have been our patrons over the years and also those who will be joining this Holga world of fun for years to come.
Check some great Holga items that we use everyday:
The Holga 120n Camera
The Holga 135 35mm Camera
Shanghai 120 Film