Why do people love the Holga so much ?

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Hello all,

Why do people like the Holga ( and similar cameras) so much ? To most people deliberately buying a camera that gives technically poor results would just not make any sense at all ! Are you a Holga lover or someone that it makes no sense to ? I personally love the Holga, I have no expectations of it compared to my modern Sony digital and am never really disappointed by the photos I get from it were as with the Sony I ialmost expect excellent results and only get a small percentage that I like the result of. I like film and feel that I get more from it and the fact I only have 12 shots focuses my mind a little more on what I'm shooting and if it will work with the limitations of the Holga and the loaded film , it's almost a sort of challenge to get a photo I like from something so limited.. It's also very cheap to buy removing the worry of damaging a very expensive camera that I may not wish to take out in conditions or activities that may damage it ( I guess this would apply to any cheap camera) Some how in my day job whilst sitting down with 10 or so people we got talking about photography and one of the people said that digital photography is so good now that it almost looks better than reality and I sort of got what he was saying to my eye sometimes a digital image looks far to clean than how I see life in reality ( maybe I just need glasses) The Holga or my other basic cameras seem to give more of an artists impression of what was in the frame. My particular Holga gives reasonable focus in the centre which is how my eyes seem to operate, I focus on the thing I'm looking at and the things towards the edge are less in focus and I naturally place the thing I'm looking at in the centre of my vision.

Anyway what are your thoughs good or bad ?
 
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I'm a Holga fan.

In the right hands they can produce memorable images. See Michael Kenna for instance.
 
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Some people like antique furniture, some people like faded jeans, some people like old houses, old cars, old bikes, watches, etc etc... There is no way they can be argued to be "better" than their modern, new equivalents in terms of performance, and yet still there is a roaring trade in old imperfect things of all sorts - even things that don't work any more!

Seeing the beauty in something *because* of it's imperfection is a very wabi-sabi way of thinking and very much describes me [today] as well as many many other people. I know for a fact however that it doesn't appeal to everyone! Thank goodness we're all different and thank goodness we have both Sonys and Holgas so people can choose (or have both!)
 
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I'm a fan, although I have never used one a friend of mine took hers to Iceland and has some beautiful images from it.

See Michael Kenna for instance.
That's the fellow! I've seen his book in Waterstones and had a flick through before now. Really cool stuff.

It's also very cheap to buy removing the worry of damaging a very expensive camera that I may not wish to take out in conditions or activities that may damage it
This bit always confuses me. Buy the best, most advanced picture capturing device you can afford then don't take it to places where you can get amazing pictures because something might happen to it. I have had similar exchanges on here before where folk have really cheap, inferior cameras to take to the beach, up a mountain, to the streets, or wherever. Just baffles me.
 

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I love the whole, Holga, Lomo, lo-fi camera movement, it's one of the things that has kept film photography alive.
Of course the resurgence in the popularity of film has meant that the bargains there were 10 years ago on ebay and in secondhand dealers are no longer available but at least our hobby has a new lease of life for the next few years, at least while the hipsters are still paying over the odds for plastic cameras.
 
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I'm a fan too. I always get some nice (to me, at least) photographs when I use it. It's almost point-and-shoot in it's simplicity so there's something relaxing about using it - it's just about finding the shot, not worrying about the settings, because there's really aren't any to worry about! I'll also happily put knackered film through it knowing that it will likely enhance the effect if anything (although you still need to find the right subjects, compositions, and light).

You can buy brand new ones for less than £50 too. One of very few film cameras still in active production, so it ought to be lauded for that reason too.
 
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This bit always confuses me. Buy the best, most advanced picture capturing device you can afford then don't take it to places where you can get amazing pictures because something might happen to it. I have had similar exchanges on here before where folk have really cheap, inferior cameras to take to the beach, up a mountain, to the streets, or wherever. Just baffles me.
It has also confused and disappointed me, I'm not sure why I spent so much on something I don't really like and am unable to use in a lot of the things I do, Motorcycle green lanning ,mountain biking and Canoeing take me to some amazing places but have destroyed many a device I have taken, Hiking GPS's and mobile phones being the worst hit I've soaked them bashed then and vibrated them to death. along with MTB's motorcycles and myself for that matter.!
 

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It's something that's never appealed to me. I used a Halina 35 about 50 years ago and the soft images from that gave me no pleasure at all.
Same for me growing up in an age of crappy cameras (couldn't afford anything decent) and I'm not going back to those days. And I can't believe (or understand why) anyone going to a place (home or abroad) with fantastic scenery would just use a Holga or Bencini comet or Ilford Sporti or Kodak Brownie etc etc
 

excalibur2

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This bit always confuses me. Buy the best, most advanced picture capturing device you can afford then don't take it to places where you can get amazing pictures because something might happen to it. I have had similar exchanges on here before where folk have really cheap, inferior cameras to take to the beach, up a mountain, to the streets, or wherever. Just baffles me.
erm you have forgotten it's the person behind the camera that's most important and next is the lens...so for a SLR using a top lens on a cheap camera and you get the same results as on an expensive one, or take no chances and use a cheap camera with a cheaper VG lens and still get results that you can't see the difference.
And you can take a Leica to a sandy beach etc or use a Minolta (and similar) rangefinder camera......and can you really see the difference in results.
 
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sirch

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And I can't believe (or understand why) anyone going to a place (home or abroad) with fantastic scenery would just use a Holga or Bencini comet or Ilford Sporti or Kodak Brownie etc etc
Would most serious 'togs do that though? I like good fish&chips from a chippy, I also like a high end restaurant meal, and I like lots of things in between.

I can't believe (or understand why) people have such singular views of the world. :)
 

TheBigYin

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Same for me growing up in an age of crappy cameras (couldn't afford anything decent) and I'm not going back to those days. And I can't believe (or understand why) anyone going to a place (home or abroad) with fantastic scenery would just use a Holga or Bencini comet or Ilford Sporti or Kodak Brownie etc etc
Because the holga weighs approximately bugger all, and I don't honestly think I've EVER gone out with just a Holga - it's always been a fun extra bit to throw in the top of the bag along with the rest of the kit.

Helga (the "traditional" holga) is a very liberating way of shooting - no real controls over exposure (mid or sunny) or focus (near,mid, far) and even the framing is a bit squint - the viewfinder shows about 2/3 of the 12 frame mask image, but isn't actually quite the centre of the frame... So, I tend to think "hmmm, wonder what that'd look like on cross processed out of date horrible old kodak c41..." and point the camera roughly in the direction I was looking. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but the crucial thing is I enjoy the experience.

The "PinHOLGA" is pretty much the same, with the addition of having to find a stable place to plonk the camera (be it on a wall, fence, or tripod...) and a bit of maths and elephant counting. I've got 2 pictures in the house at the moment printed REALLY BIG - read that as "about the width of a door on the short side" - suffice to say one of those is from the PinHOLGA.

They're not for everyone, and some people won't "get it" - that's okay. As a way of occupying our time on this earth, taking pictures is highly unlikely to contribute anything that will save the world - it's only for our entertainment at the end of the day - so lets just do what we enjoy.
 

excalibur2

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Would most serious 'togs do that though? I like good fish&chips from a chippy, I also like a high end restaurant meal, and I like lots of things in between.

I can't believe (or understand why) people have such singular views of the world. :)
Depends how old you are, if younger you had\have a great choice of cameras and can choose a top camera or Holga etc for fun. If old it's been there done it erm and forced to the "done it" bit because of no money.....you would have to pay me now to use a Holga, pinhole etc. ;)
 
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I have become a Holga user this year. Almost every spot on the planet has already been photographed using "high quality" cameras that produce a "realistic" image - so the Holga (along with pinhole cameras) gives an opportunity to produce something a little different.
 

excalibur2

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I have become a Holga user this year. Almost every spot on the planet has already been photographed using "high quality" cameras that produce a "realistic" image - so the Holga (along with pinhole cameras) gives an opportunity to produce something a little different.
..but you can use e.g. Rollei, SLR, LF etc and produce the results from pinhole or Holga etc in Photoshop or the darkroom. Ok maybe you could see the difference from using pinhole etc but could anyone else.
And I do get users of pinholes etc can be bit of fun for some and it's back to horses for courses and that we all agree.
 
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I do not understand the appeal at all.
however each to their own.

I would resent paying good money to guarantee poor quality.

you could get equivalent results by mounting any simple meniscus lens onto an X T4 using a cardboard loo roll tube and carved out body cap..
 
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I find todays imagery has become a technical exercise in creating very detailed clean high resolution images to the point were the details themself has become noise blurring the story in the picture. Good technical quality can be good but low fi blurriness and lens errors has its place. I ike the imagery of Susan Burnstine and Michael Kenna among others and cant help remembering the Capa images from D-day. Grainy, blurred and poorly developed by the least experienced darkroom help, a 15y old lad they (it) leaves us with a feeling of how chaotic and surreal the situation on Omaha beach was that morning that a modern detailed high ISO image of todays cameras wouldnt. A teacher on a photo school once told about a wedding he did with a Diana camera. When presented with the pictures the Brides comment was "Thats just how I felt"
Less is more.
 
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Andysnap

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I agree @soeren what happened to art and inventiveness?
 

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I find todays imagery has become a technical exercise in creating very detailed clean high resolution images to the point were the details themself has become noise blurring the story in the picture. Good technical quality can be good but low fi blurriness and lens errors has its place. I ike the imagery of Susan Burnstine and Michael Kenna among others and cant help remembering the Capa images from D-day. Grainy, blurred and poorly developed by the least experienced darkroom help, a 15y old lad they (it) leaves us with a feeling of how chaotic and surreal the situation on Omaha beach was that morning that a modern detailed high ISO image of todays cameras wouldnt. A teacher on a photo school once told about a wedding he did with a Diana camera. When presented with the pictures the Brides comment was "Thats just how I felt"
Less is more.
Did he use a Kodak Brownie? And I can't imagine the Korean and following wars guys using cheap bakelite or holga type cameras..........
edit: on the net he was using a 35mm Contax camera and Rollei?
 
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AZ6

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I must say, I'm quite bemused by the whole 'Lomography' trend that has become popular. I saw a new version of the Zenit Lomo that sold for £19.99 in about 1993 or so, selling for summat daft like £299 recently. Wow. You could buy a decent Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax, Minolta etc SLR with a nice lens, for that. It's insane. A cheap, quite poorly made and unreliable cam has suddenly become a fashion accessory.
Some people like antique furniture, some people like faded jeans, some people like old houses, old cars, old bikes, watches, etc etc...
I think at least with some furniture, clothing, bike, watches etc, you'll get summat better made than a lot of the the tat that's on offer these days. And I'd rather live in a Victorian built house than any crappy new build. Oh, I do!

I don't think the same applies to photographic tech. Newer is pretty much always better. I can understand someone wanting to use an old Leica, Nikon, etc, but why would you willingly choose a cheap, vastly inferior piece of junk just to achieve an 'effect' you could happily replicate in PS, if you so desired? I have no issue with someone buying an old cam for a fiver and sticking some film through it for a laugh, but to get all nerdy about it, like it's some sort of 'new wave', that's just testicles as far as I'm concerned.
I love the whole, Holga, Lomo, lo-fi camera movement, it's one of the things that has kept film photography alive.
Of course the resurgence in the popularity of film has meant that the bargains there were 10 years ago on ebay and in secondhand dealers are no longer available but at least our hobby has a new lease of life for the next few years, at least while the hipsters are still paying over the odds for plastic cameras.
Really? Loads of people have quietly been using film for ever. As always, hipsters come along, claiming to have reinvented the wheel, and ruin it for everyone.
 
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Did he use a Kodak Brownie? And I can't imagine the Korean and following wars guys using cheap bakelite or holga type cameras..........
edit: on the net he was using a 35mm Contax camera and Rollei?
Doesnt matter. The images bcame as is by accident. My point is that had they been Sharp, detailed and clean as by modern cameras their emotionel impact would have suffered
 

Nod

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cant help remembering the Capa images from D-day. Grainy, blurred and poorly developed by the least experienced darkroom help, a 15y old lad

Weren't the Capa images from just a couple of films that survived dunkings and other mishaps and only got published because they were the only option?
 
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Weren't the Capa images from just a couple of films that survived dunkings and other mishaps and only got published because they were the only option?
Yes but the point stands. Would it have the same impact if it was clean, sharp and detailed? I think not ( and disappeared:))
 
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AZ6

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Weren't the Capa images from just a couple of films that survived dunkings and other mishaps and only got published because they were the only option?
And weren't they shot on top quality pro equipment in the first place?
 
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And weren't they shot on top quality pro equipment in the first place?
  • I think you guys are totally missing the point. The capa image was an example of the impact I at least feel low fi images can have. A quality imbedded in the the cameras that are the topic of this thread. The goals and scope of photo journalism is not the topic and what could have been if those images only slightly. The D-day image is to me one of the most dramatic and impact full images in existence not only because of the historic importance but because of the way it conways what went on on that beach. I believe a high res low notice file would have failed miserably with a lot of details distracting the viewer from actually feeling the story
 
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Yes but the point stands. Would it have the same impact if it was clean, sharp and detailed? I think not ( and disappeared:))
If it had been sharp would people be saying it would have more impact if it was blurred and badly processed?

(BYTW It's worth searching for the debunking of the Capa D-Day photos myth.)

Graphic content warning: Sharp with impact.
 
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If it had been sharp would people be saying it would have more impact if it was blurred and badly processed?

(BYTW It's worth searching for the debunking of the Capa D-Day photos myth.)

Graphic content warning: Sharp with impact.
Yeah seen that
 

excalibur2

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  • I think you guys are totally missing the point. The capa image was an example of the impact I at least feel low fi images can have. A quality imbedded in the the cameras that are the topic of this thread. The goals and scope of photo journalism is not the topic and what could have been if those images only slightly. The D-day image is to me one of the most dramatic and impact full images in existence not only because of the historic importance but because of the way it conways what went on on that beach. I believe a high res low notice file would have failed miserably with a lot of details distracting the viewer from actually feeling the story
So you are saying the shots could have been sharp and clear but he deliberately changed them in the darkroom or whatever.....
 
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AZ6

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The capa image was an example of the impact I at least feel low fi images can have. A quality imbedded in the the cameras that are the topic of this thread.
But with the Capa photo, it's nothing to do with the quality of the camera. Wasn't Capa shooting with a Leica? What would those images have looked like, had he used a really cheapo crappy cam?

I think you guy are totally missing the point.
No. We're really not. You're trying to make an argument for using crap cams to take good pics. Which of course is possible. But it's not about the cam itself, as the hipsters etc seem to think; it's about the imagination, skill and talent of the photographer, to present an image within a particular context or visual vernacular. I think that a lot of love for the 'low fi' image as you call it (more hyperbole*) comes from people's experiences of looking at old family photos; the Gen Z's and Millenials will have grown up looking at a lot of fuzzy, poorly shot pics that were produced on cheap cams, so subconsciously at least, probably associate that with happy memories. Probs all to do with arousal etc. I'm sure old Uncle Siggy would have a lot to say about it. But a lot of us Boomers and Gen X's will have also grown up looking at crap pics shot on crap cams, probs a lot more B+W, but also, probs less crap cams, as it' was the boom in consumerism in the late 70s and 80s, that gave us all the cheap nasty stuff. Far Eastern made plastic stuff was a lot cheaper than nice German or Japanese metal stuff, and photography became a lot more accessible. So praps it's that, which has spawned the craze for crap.

If you deliberately wanted to create that look, using decent gear, it might be a little trickier. You'd have to do stuff like use a scuffed up old filter, maybe, or manipulate the image in post. Whatever, it achieves the same effect. I can sort of see the appeal, but it's not my bag, personally. Just smacks of that 'Instagram' ideal; elevating mediocrity beyond it's genuine merit. All totally subjective of course. I think that's a more interesting debate to be had, tbh.

*Is 'hyperbole' the right word here? I'm on about using 'sexed up' terms to describe mundane things. I dunno.
 
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Surely the big advantage of the Holga is that you can blame all the deficiencies of your photos on the camera, and at the same time claim you intended them to look that way all along? So it's impossible to take a 'bad' shot, and anyway, it's Art.
 

excalibur2

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Well if photographers produced VG photos in the American civil war 1861 +, by the time of WW2 it would be difficult not to get a sharp picture with a good camera..
 
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I now seldomly post on this forum largely due to discussions like these (i.e., discussions that equate photography to sharpness, pass responsibility for the results to the equipment, etc.). Honestly, just about any film camera can take sharp enough pictures, including the Holga. For most of the cameras that are discussed on this forum, as long as there aren't glaring issues with the camera that require a service, it's often the photographer's fault if the photos aren't turning out.

Personally, I find the Holga to be a great camera for travel, street photography, and candid people shots. It wouldn't be my only camera, but it offers unique features that in turn afford creative opportunities that aren't possible with my other cameras. The fact that it is incredibly simple and light also makes it a great secondary camera when travelling.

I don't look at the photos below and think, man, if I only I'd use my Hasselblad, Pentax 6x7, etc. If there is an issue with the photo, it's my fault. Bad photos from a Holga ain't the fault of the Holga. Is a bad song the fault of the guitar?

Seriously, people.



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AZ6

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Honestly, just about any film camera can take a sharp enough pictures, including the Holga
Erm, sorry, but from what I've seen taken on Holgas, they ain't sharp enough for my personal preference. And your shots, as nice as they are (and they are good, I do like them), for me, they could be improved significantly by having better IQ. I don't understand how Holgas can be so desirable, yet a cheapo compact that doesn't have so much hype surrounding it, isn't. I don't see the lack of sharpness, and the dreadful IQ anywhere but in the centre, as 'character'; I see it as an indication of poor quality. Thing is, you can't improve those images, so why hobble yourself by using such a poor cam in the first place? You could shoot the same pics on a decent, cam, add in the 'low-fi' effects in post (or with a scratched up old filter, etc), yet still have a decent quality version should you want that, at any stage.

Is a bad song the fault of the guitar?
No, but a bad guitar can let down a good song.
 
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