- Aperture:f/8, f/11
- 60mm f/8 plastic lens
- Zone focusing system
- Shutter speed: 1/100 sec and Bulb
- Takes 120 medium format film
- Focus range: Adjustable, 0.9m to infinity
- Hot shoe adapter, standard tripod mount
- Eye level direct viewfinder
- Lens cap, strap
- Two film masks for either 12-6×6 cm images or 16- 6×4.5 cm images.
Where to buy: Amazon
The Holga 120N is a cheap small camera that uses a medium format film, it has the ability to capture intriguing photographs. Produced in Hong Kong in the early 1980s to 2016, it was sold as an inexpensive camera for the Chinese working class, but it eventually became less popular because everyone was purchasing 35mm film distancing from medium format. The shape of the Hoga looks like a box, the material is plastic, with a few basic controls, very simple and lightweight so it is portable and suitable to put into your jacket pocket and have fun shooting.
Like I had mentioned it is lightweight so suitable to take traveling, the entire camera even the lens is made out of plastic but it is sturdy, the lens is optical with a 60mm focal length, the focus is achieved by rotating the outer ring producing surprisingly sharp images. The Holga is mechanical so there is no need for batteries, when it comes to settings it is quite limited, on the top of the lens is a switch for cloudy and sunny that changes the aperture from f8 to f11. On the bottom of the lens features the shutter speeds switch such as bulb and normal (again the options are limited). Bulb allows you to hold the shutter as long as you want, normal speed is 1/100 of a second which is fast enough to be hand held. On the top of the camera there is a mount for your flash, a viewfinder, film advance knob and to insert the medium film you undo the back and insert it in, there is nothing else really much to it, it is a basic camera, quite straightforward to use, what I’m mostly curious about is how it functions and captures images.
Because it is a cheap camera, made of plastic and not as popular, most people would tend to ignore and underestimate but there is a lot more to this small camera, once you become more familiar with the Holga 120N camera, you can capture really interesting photographs. Even with the limited settings it can still be a bit of a challenge getting used to the Holga, this camera is known for its light leaks from the borders on the back plate of the camera, applying on some tape should do the trick to prevent it, the leaks can wash out the image but I do accept happy accidents and light leaks can actually sometimes work, so this is something new to deal with this camera.
I find the viewfinder is not very useful, it’s more of a composition guide so you have to use your intuition to focus on your subjects, there are icons on the lens featuring a person, three people, a group and a mountain which represents the focusing distances that you’re suppose to guess how far your subject is from the camera and set it to the ideal focus. It can take a bit of practice getting used to adjusting, shooting your subjects and you are not going to get it right the first time which is frustrating and you end up wasting some of the film but it is a bit of a learning curve especially when you’re shooting with film and you cannot see the results and delete them, once you do get the hang of it you tend to appreciate it is unique quirks and enjoy shooting.
When I saw the results I was very surprised, the prints appear surreal which I really like, right away I noticed it has it is own characteristics with the vignette and light leaks. The center is sharper and the rest of the image is soft, it takes great landscapes, portraits it is ideal for street photography, I was not expecting the images to be sharp, I thought they’d turn out blurry but the image maintains detail, the colours are rich, the softness really adds to the image. I like the fact it resembles old photographs because I am very much into that.
The camera may be simple but it doesn’t disappoint, it’s a bit of an element of surprise, produces stunning images, with its limited options to work with and simplicity it is just really learning how to use the camera and practice shooting your subjects, it really opens your creativity. For you lomography and film enthusiasts this is a camera to try out, though if you want something more advanced or this is not your sort of camera then skip this option, this was a very interesting camera to review it may not be flashy and have some faults but the Holga 120N really is a unique camera, you get to appreciate its imperfect qualities and unpredictable results and a joy to shoot.