Holga 120 SF: The Original Holga Love


The Holga 120SF is my very first Lomographic camera (I bought it 2004) and I immediately felt in love with it, and thus, with the whole Lomographic spirit later on. Sure, Holga is well known by all lomographers, but what makes the Holga 120 SF so special?

Well, the Holga 120 SF is the original Holga model, in reality, the first Holga with built in flash, released in the year 2000 (the camera of the XXI° century??? ;) and now out of production.

The very first Holga was the 120 S, born 1982 in China to make a popular 120 Camera. Did you know that the name “Holga” came from the cantonese Chinese words “ho gwong” meaning “very bright” as the camera needed very bright light to take pictures….(source: the Holgapolis web site, see link below). And it was only in the year 2000 that the Holga factory released the first Holga camera with built-in flash to bring a bit more possibilities to shoot with this camera in dark light conditions: that’s the Holga 120 SF.

Like the original Holga 120 S, the 120 SF has no tripod mount and no “bulb” setting, thus only the basics of the Holga camera: the fixed aperture (at f/11) and the approximative 1/100s shutter speed. That’s enough to produce the magical Holga pictures who fascinates me (and a lot of other lomographers too…) and even if I can’t play with a color flash and the “B” setting, I simply love my old Holga 120 SF….. The flash is strong enough to bring you the light you need in the dark (try to shoot in complete darkness with flash to have a great circular vignetting effect) and you can – of course – make multiple exposures on one single frame. And I found out a “trick” to reproduce (almost) a “B” setting effect: if you can hold your cam in the same position (on a table, on the ground or elsewhere, as there’s no tripod mount) just click a few times (4-5 times or more…) to have a multiple expo that is close to a bulb mode…. not so great as a real “bulb”, but close effect (see the shot of a river in the gallery…)

When I travel anywhere, the Holga is the camera I take automatically, because I know that the pictures will be great and magic. I know also that this big chunky plastic cam is perfect to shoot people very close, because they don’t take it too seriously, thinking that it is only a big plastic toy that can’t “harm” them, even if they’re wondering if that “thing” can take real pictures. Approach people with a huge modern digital monster, and all the people will be afraid, but with the Holga you immediately have a great contact with them!

I could verify this in my last big travel to Africa, in Burkina Faso. I had always my Holga 120 SF around the neck and people always agreed that I take pictures of them with my big plastic toy. Just a little click, and it’s done! The results seemed really magic to me, the mood of what I saw was perfectly shown on these shots! :)) Have a look at the gallery, all of them where taken during my travel in Burkina Faso.

Holga I LOVE YOU!!! :))))

written by vicuna on 2008-11-23 in #reviews #120 #holga #sf #mf


  1. adi_totp
    adi_totp ·

    lovely review stephane! yeaaah holga,we love you!

  2. saviorjosh
    saviorjosh ·

    i still have the oldest holga 120s. it feels a bit different from the newer models and tends to be more "leaky".

    wonderful gallery of Africa! very inspiring!

  3. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    @savorjosh: yes, think the oldest Holga models are very leaky and the vignetting is really strong, and that's what I like! :)) And thanks for the comment about the gallery! :)

  4. laurasulilly
    laurasulilly ·

    great pictures!
    i also have a holga 120sf and i'm on my third role of film-but until now i used the frame which came with the camera and it doesn't produce square (i guess it's 6x4,5)
    how did you produce your lovely square pcitures, do you have a special mask for it or do you simply take out the mask and batteries (or tape them?) to get suare format pictures? my camera came with one mask only, maybe that's another difference from the newer holgas...

  5. shinysilverdragon
    shinysilverdragon ·

    I love the images in your gallery! Very beautiful and emotive! I am now, more than ever, looking forward to receiving my own Holga 120 SF! Thank you for sharing such passion and inspiration!

  6. vicuna
    vicuna ·

    thanks @shinysilverdragon! :))

  7. adash
    adash ·

    Awesome photos!

  8. boubert72
    boubert72 ·

    My Holga is stil new and a just put a HP5 film , epired in1996 so Ihave no idea what the result will be.

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