The Holga 120 camera
is a simple plastic camera, often called toy camera, which
appeared late on the market in 1982, when the Diana camera and its
clones were already disappearing. It is said that the Chinese had on
overstock of 120 film, but no cheap 120 cameras anymore. It was built in Hongkong, not integral part of China then and it had great success on the Chinese market which converted
late to 135 film. It seems as if the original inventor sold the factory
to Tokina, I have a 2010 Tokina catalogue which contains all Holga
models. There is a lot of misinformation around about the Holgas and
the main seller, Freestylephoto, is trying to create mystery around it.
In 2015 they announced that Tokina had shut down the factory and
immediately distroyed all machines and molds. I doubted this
information, perhaps they wanted to boost their sales, as the Holgas
were still available from them. In 2017 Freestylephoto announced that
the machines and molds were "miraculously" refound and the production
would be resumed. In any case, you can still buy new Holgas without problems.
lens is simple
60mm plastic meniscus lens (wider than the 75mm Diana lens) with some
vignetting. Light leaks are frequent, you may have to put black tape
over the seams. The original model, the 120S (Standard), has only one shutter
speed of ~1/100s and 2 F-stops, sunny and cloudy, supposed to be F8 and
F11. It is said that due to production errors pre-2009 models have only
one F-stop of about F13 on both settings. 2009 and later models have 2
stops of ~ F13 and F20. The Holga can shoot 2 formats, 6x6 and 6x4,5
and has the according red windows and frame masks. There are pictures of the 120S at the bottom of the page. The 120S was
replaced by the 120N (New) model, adding bulb speed, a tripod socket and some
minor improvements. There are plenty of variants, G stands for glass
lens and F stands for built-in flash.
the hype of toy cameras 135 and 110 film versions appeared. There were
pinhole versions, panoramics, pinhole panoramics and even a TLR-version. Plenty of
accessories were available and there is a Holga community of DIY enthusiasts. The first
camera presented, a 120 GCFN, has a glass lens and a built-in flash with colour
filters, it was on sale as a white version for very little money. I
wanted a Holga because of the possbility of an Instax Mini back as I am
into instant photography. Its main features are:
simple plastic menikus lens, ~F13 and F20, zone focus 1- ∞
Size 140x104x74, Weight 227 gr., 120S 197 gr.
2 frame masks, 56x56mm and 56x43mm
back. Flash switch, flash ready lamp and red window.
Camera top. Flash colour selector, film advance. Not visible: F-switch
near the lens,
Camera bottom. Tripod socket, speed selector.
The basic set.
Film compartment with 6x6 mask installed. If you take out the mask, you
have access to the flash batteries. There is a photo of this on the TLR page.
The camera presented above, is a 120 GCFN. The original version was the
120 S. The 120 N (N
for new) was an updated version with an additional B shutter setting,
foam inserts for film tensioning and a better red window. G
stends for Glass Lens, CF
for Colour Flash. Further down the page there are 120 CFN versions, so it's a plastic lens
with colour flash.
camera is heavier than the Diana and feels more solid. As the Diana it is a basic plastic camera
with only one speed, no automatic exposure, no automatic film advance,
no autofocus, not even a rangefinder, cheaply made plastic lenses that
produce heavy vignetting and random results.
because it's more solid than the Diana, it has attracted more DIY
people, Holga-mods are famous. There are plenty of discussions across
the forums worldwide about the Holga. You shoud read some of them, they
are interesting. I have even a Holgamods 612 Pan wide
landscape camera in 6x12cm format that has a Schneider Angulon lens adapted (link opens in a new widow).
for the Diana, I don't
think about measuring, I guess and I try. So for me the Holgas are nice finds.
A Holga with plastic lens and its original box and accessories.
An old black Holga which came in a plastic camera lot.
A Lomography version, as usual a pack with a
book. It took me a while to put my hands on one, as people try to sell
it for a good part of the high Lomography price. But in the end waiting
payed (much less).
What's in the box: plastic lens version with built-in colour flash, film
mask, a book, instructions and a leaflet about the Lomo LC-A.
The camera hasn't been used much.
And, as promised, the original Holga 120S:
Camera with lens cover.
Simple plastic lens.
Hot shoe and film advance.
Aperture selector and distance setting via symbols on the lens barrel.
Nothing to see from below, no tripod socket (wouldn't make sense with only one speed) and no speed selector.
Film compartment with 4.5x6 mask installed. No foam inserts to tension the film. I would highly recommend to glue some.