Film: 120/medium format
Format/Frame: 6 x 6 / 6 x 4.5 cm

Thankfully, the Holga is a camera that is more than the sum of its parts. It would have to be; its parts individually aren’t worth much, if anything. Almost everything on the Holga is made of cheap plastic except for the shutter spring, the shutter plate, and the strap lugs/door latches and even those are made of the cheapest metal. Its overall design is similarly economical, which basically means that it’s terrible. But like Plan 9 from Outer Space or The Room, it’s so terrible that it’s entertaining.

—Casual Photophile / Josh Solomon

Check out Josh Solomon’s entire Holga 120S review HERE

My insights on the Holga 120s

I’m unsure of this, but I never heard the term “crappy camera” until the Holgas came on the seen.

I’ve ruined more film via the Holga camera than any other camera. I suppose some camera has to own this not-so-distinguishing peculiarity in any given camera collection. I’d like to think it is mostly operator error, but given other reviews here and there, it’s probably safe to say that anyone who picks up a Holga and loads film in it likes to live a bit dangerously.

Light leaks, erratic shutter speeds, weak tension in the take up spool resulting into a loosely wound roll of exposed film… so many things to go wrong—all common side affects using this camera. When it comes to the Holga, slight light leaks are cute and give an image character, but massive ones will ruin your day and send you back to your Leica, Mamiya, Canon, or whatever other “good” camera you own.

My advice: drop your film in the Holga, shoot the entire roll within a couple of hours and keep it hidden in as much darkness as possible when not in use. When the roll is used up, take it out of the camera in total darkness and process right away or store it in a light-proof container. Do all of that and you might just come away with some interesting images.

When the Holgas were gaining popularity in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, I had already acquired my Diana and was pretty happy with the results. It was hard to fathom that another cheap camera could surpass the Diana. And though I never found that to be untrue, I think having a Holga is worth the trouble and heartache it might bring because in between it all, there will be some good images. I’m sure of that.

What I really like about the Holga (along with the Diana and Brownie Hawkeye Flash) is the brilliant and unique images of ordinary compositions and subjects. I suppose some people can see in their mind how these images will turn out with the Holga, but I’m not one of them. I’m just simply surprised and impressed when I look at the freshly developed film that was exposed with my Holga… assuming everything was done right (see second paragraph).

Holga 120S