A Holga is a plastic, medium format “toy” camera. It was originally manufactured in China in the 1980’s as a consumer-level camera during a time when 120mm black-and-white film was the most widely available film in the country. The market changed as 35mm film became more prevalent, which then lead to the Holga being marketed outside of China. The Holgas became popular with artists for the lo-fidelity aesthetics produced by the plastic camera body and lens. The surrealistic qualities, the vignettes, and light leaks all add to the creative possibilities.
I purchased my first Holga in 2002 as an inexpensive way to shoot larger format film. At the time the camera came with a price tag of around $15.00 - $20.00, and had to be altered to shoot a square format. Though I transitioned from 35mm film to a DSLR in 2007, my Holga remained in my gear and I continued shooting film alongside digital. In 2011 the shutter mechanism began to fail, so I retired my first Holga and replaced it with a new one.
Each Holga had unique qualities. My first Holga tended to vignette heavily in the corners, and the focus seemed sharpest in the center, fading out towards the edges of the frames. My blue Holga is sharper overall and the vignettes are not as pronounced, however it tends to leak light on the upper and lower edges of the film.