Holga Camera

Holga Camera – technical specifications and working methods


Lens: plastic optical lens, f8 / 60 mm

Shutter: Leaf shutter

Shutter speed: 1/100 second at “N”, and open as long as the shutter is depressed (Bulb) at “B”

Apertures: f8 (cloud/sun), f11 (sun)

Film format: 120

Frame formats: 6 x 4.5 cm (with insert); 6 x 6 cm

Focus: 4 ft to infinity


Due to the minimal exposure controls on this camera, it is best to use films with a wide exposure latitude, such as HP5 at 400 ISO

Black and White:

for general daylight shooting or flash – Ilford HP5 (ISO 400), Ilford Delta 400 (ISO 400), or Kodak TMax 400 (ISO 400);

for overcast days to brightly lit rooms, no flash – Ilford Delta 3200 (ISO 3200)

Color neg.:

for general daylight shooting or flash – Fuji NPH (ISO 400), Fuji NHG II (ISO 800) or Kodak Pro PPF 400 (ISO 400).

Frame Format

Holga cameras come preset to expose at a 6 x 6 cm frame format. See the manufacturer’s instruction manual for more information.

Light Leaks

Use black photo or ‘gaffers’ tape, or some other low-tack opaque tape to reduce light leaking into the film chamber. Consider taping all four edges of the camera back. This can be inconvenient when changing rolls, but is often worth the trouble.

Make a flap to cover the red frame counter window on the camera back.

You may notice a slight roughness along the ridge of the frame inside the film chamber; unless this is taped over, and thereby smoothing the edge, film can get scratched as is is transported from one side of the chamber to the other.

Focus distances

Head and shoulders: about 4 feet

Small group: about 8 to 10 feet

Large group: about 15 to 18 feet

Mountains: 30 feet to infinity

Film Loading

Load and unload the camera in deep shade or subdued light. Along with the normal procedures described by the manufacturer, some extra steps need to be taken after opening the camera back:

Open the back and carefully remove the exposed roll of film from the right side of the chamber (unless loading a camera for the first time). Tuck the film leader (or ‘tab’) under itself, then tape up the roll. Make sure it is tautly wound up to prevent light leaking onto exposed film. Date the tape label, and store film in its original carton or in a dark place.

Transfer the empty spool from the left to the right chamber.

Insert the unexposed film spool into the left chamber, such that the out paper layer continues to face you as you advance the roll. With Ilford HP5 for instance, this means the lettering on the tape seal, “Ilford HP5” reads upside down.

[This only applies to older models, without the foam ‘pad’: Insert a small piece of folded paper or card (the sleeve used to wrap 120 roll film works well) between the bottom of the film spool and camera base in order to keep the film taut as it is wound on. The insert should create just enough tension to allow comfortable advancing of the film.]

Remove the seal on the roll, hold the roll in place with a finger, pull the leader out about 4 to 5 inches and insert it into the take-up spool on the right.

Rotate the film advance knob a couple of times. Make sure the film is advancing comfortably and parallel to the top and bottom edges of the film chamber. Advance the film until you see a double-headed arrow appear on the left side.

Close the back, and advance the film to frame number 1. You will see ‘1’ appear in the red frame counter window. With Ilford HP5, the numerals are all upside down.

Unloading Film

Unload in deep shade or subdued light.

Rotate the film advance knob until you feel a release of tension. The paper backing around the film should now be completely wrapped around the take-up spool in the right chamber.

Open the back.

Gently remove the film.

Fold the tab under it self ( about 1/2 inch or less), moisten the seal and wrap it tightly around the film. Store in a cool dark place until ready to process.


Holga Manual

Holga on Wikipedia

Holga Lomography web site – loads of information and more links


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