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120: Medium Format film invented in 1901 by Kodak. The first Original Holga Camera’s used this format. Comes on a spool with protective backing paper.

135: Invented by Kodak in 1934 and is the most common film format. Comes in a light-sealed cartridge

3D (Camera): Stereoscopic camera which can produce 3-D images. The images need can be mounted and viewed with a special viewer. Holga produce 3D cameras in both 120 and 35mm format.

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Analog (Photography): Generally meaning film photography rather than Digital.

Aperture: The ‘hole’ through which light travels in a camera to reach the film. Adjusting the aperture affects the exposure as well as the ‘Depth of Field’. Up until 2009 the aperture setting on a Holga Camera actually had no effect on the image produced (due to a manufacturing fault). From 2009 onwards most Holga Camera’s offer aperture settings of f/13 (shown as Cloudy) and f/20 (shown as Sunny).

ASA: Used similarly to ISO to indicate a standard for film speed. General advice for film photography is to use the right film speed for the right lighting conditions.

Aspect Ratio: Used to denote the ratio of the width to the height of an image. The aspect ratio of 135 film is 2:3 whereas for 120 film can be 1:1 (if using a 6×6 format/mask) or 3:4 (if using a 6×4.5 format/mask)

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Blur: Refers to parts of an image which are not perceived as ‘Sharp’. Used creatively by Holga photographers.

Bokeh: A term to describe the aesthetic quality of the ‘Blur’ or ‘Out of Focus’ parts of an image. Comes from the Japanese ‘Boke’ meaning ‘Blur/Haze’.

Blown-Out: Used to refer to Overexposure when the Highlights of an image contain no tonal detail and the photograph as a whole is overly bright.

Bulb: An exposure mode used for keeping the shutter open for as long as desired by the photographer. Available on most Holga models and particularly useful for ‘Pinhole’ cameras where ‘Exposures’ need to be long.

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Cartridge: Used as a light sealed container for 35mm film.

Close-Up Lens: An attachment to the front of a camera lens which allows the taking of pictures at a closer distance than would be possible without it. The Holga Close-Up Lens CLS-1 will fit most Holga camera models.

Cross-Process: Otherwise known as ‘X-Pro’. The process by which color negatives are processed in (E-6) chemicals designed for slides or by which slides are processed in chemicals designed for color negatives (C-41). The end result is highly saturated and contrasty images.

Colorsplash: A flash unit built-in to some Holga Camera models (120 CFN, 120 GCFN). A dial on the Holga camera allows colored gels to affect the light used in the flash. Holga models which have a ‘C’ in the model code have the built-in Colorsplash (eg, 120 GCFN).

Contact Print: A sheet of thumbnail images produced from negatives/slides so that images can be viewed for selection/review.

Contrast: The range of difference in the light to dark areas of a negative or slide. Different films can exhibit different levels of perceived contrast.

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Darkroom: Where the magic happens. Where film is taken and processed into negatives and thereafter into prints.

Diaphragm: The lens opening that controls the amount of light which reaches the film. It usually contains 2-8 blades the number of which can affect the reproduction of light sources and ‘Bokeh’ within the image.

Depth of Field: A measure of the distance between the nearest and furthest acceptably sharp points in an image. Controlled by aperture, focal length (of the lens) and the distance from the lens to subject.

Double Exposure: See ‘Multiple Exposure’.

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Enlarger: A device used to project an enlarged image from a negative onto photographic paper.

Exposure: The amount of light which reaches the film while the shutter remains open when taking a photograph. Controlled by the aperture and shutter speed.

Exposure Latitude: The range of exposures from overexposure to underexposure that produces acceptable images from a particular film.

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F-Stop: A number that denotes the size of an aperture. Bigger numbers mean smaller holes mean greater ‘Depth of Field’. The common F-Stops are f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22. Each successive number indicates a halving of the size of the aperture. Used in conjunction with Shutter speeds to determine Exposure.

Film: A piece of Chemical wizadry that allows images to be captured. Usually a sheet of plastic with one or more layers of chemicals on top.

Film Speed: See also ASA or ISO. Used to denote the sensitivity of a film to light. The larger the number the more sensitive or faster the film.

Filter: Any material or object that is used creatively to alter the ‘raw’ image otherwise produced by a camera. There are a number of filters available for Holga Camera’s.

Fisheye (Lens): An Ultra Wide angle lens used to take in a very large field of view of a scene. Invariably results in some distortion to the scene when captured. The Fisheye lens FEL-120 fits the 120 format Holga models while the FEL-135 will attach to the 135/35mm bodies.

Fixed Focus: A non-adjustable lens for a certain distance.

Flash: A device used to provide an artificial but intense burst of light to facilitate the taking of a photograph which would otherwise not be possible with existing lighting conditions. Holga model codes which contain an ‘F’ have a built-in Flash.

Focal Length: With the lens set to focus at infinity the distance between the optical centre of the lens and the film. The standard Holga focal length is 60mm.

Focus: Using the camera to enable the subjects in a scene to reach the desired level of sharpness.

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Grain: The effect of small grains of metallic Silver Halide on the final look of an image on film. Generally ‘faster’ (or higher ISO) films have ‘larger’ grain.

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Half Frame: See ‘Twin Image’.

Highlights: The areas of an image which contain the brightest parts of the scene usually where some tonal detail is still desired to be captured in the photograph.

Ho Gwong: Meaning ‘Very Bright’ in Cantonese and thought to be the origination of the word ‘Holga’ being an Anglicization of this.

Holga: The camera we all know and love.

Holgaroid: A replacement back for the Holga which allows the taking of Polaroid photographs.

Hong Kong: The birthplace of the Holga in 1982.

Hot-Shoe: A standard flash connection point on a camera. Usually standard on most Holga’s where there is no built-in flash. The Holga models which do not contain an ‘F’ in the model code usually have a Hot-Shoe.

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Infrared Photography: In this type of photography, special film which is sensitive to infrared light is used. The wavelength for this light ranges from about 700 nm to about 900 nm. In addition usually an “infrared filter” is used; this lets the infrared (IR) light pass through to the camera, but blocks all or most of the visible light spectrum (the filter thus looks black or deep red).


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Lens: An optical piece of equipment used to collect and focus rays of light in conjunction with a camera body to make an image.

Light Leak: Usually a red or white streak of light on a photographic image caused by light which has seeped or leaked through the camera body onto the film during. A sought after behaviour by many Holga photographers.

Lo-Fi (Lo-Fidelity): A reference to analog and/or simple or basic cameras with little of todays modern technology.

Long Exposure: A long enough shutter speed used either to create movement in a scene where there is some or to keep the shutter open long enough to capture a scene in low light conditions. See Bulb.

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Multiple Exposure: The taking of photographic images over the same piece of film resulting in a collage or montage effect.

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Negatives: A reversed tonal image produced by the development of negative film.

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Overexposure: A photographic image which has received too much light during exposure resulting in excessive brightness or ‘blown out’ highlights.

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Pinhole (Camera): A camera which instead of a lens has a very small ‘pinhole’ with a single aperture. Due to the very small aperture the image usually is incredibly sharp but requires a very long ‘Shutter Speed’. Holga produce Pinhole cameras in both 120 format (120-PC and 120-WPC) and also 135/35mm (135-PC) formats. Also see Long Exposure.

Plastic: The main material used in the manufacture of Holga cameras.

Polaroid: A special kind of film that develops on its own shortly after exposure.

Pull (Processing): Involves Over-Exposing a film (for example using exposures as calculated for a ISO 50 film when actually shooting an ISO 100 film). In conjunction with Under-Development this effectively decreases the sensitivity of the film.

Push (Processing): Involves Under-Exposing a film (for example using exposures as calculated for a ISO 100 film when actually shooting an ISO 50 film). In conjunction with Over-Development this effectively increases the sensitivity of the film.

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Reciprocity Failure: Refers to the point in the spectrum of shutter speeds at which a films characteristics may change. Such changes may include a loss of contrast, effective film speed or color shifts. The manufacturer of each film usually publishes the points of reciprocity failure.

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Shutter Speed: The length of time for which the camera shutter remains open. Used in conjunction with the aperture setting to determine Exposure. The standard Holga shutter speed is 1/100 second.

Slide Film: A reversal film which when processed in E-6 chemicals produces a positive image on a transparent base. Slides can be viewed in on a lightbox or projected.

Soft Focus: A special effect used for producing excessively soft images. Can be produced either using a special filter or selective focus. A Soft Focus lens is available to be attached to most Holga models.

Sprocket Hole (Photography): The perforated edges of 35mm film are referred to as Sprockets. The technique of creating images which fill the film to the edges on top of the sprockets is called Sprocket Hole Photography.

Stop: See F-Stop.

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T.M. Lee: The father of the Holga having designed the first model in 1982 in Hong Kong.

Transparency: See Slide Film.

Twin Image Maker: The Holga 135-TIM is an innovative model which allows the capture of images on a ‘half frame’ of a regular 35mm film.

Twin Lens Reflex (TLR): A type of camera that holds two lenses with the same focal length. One is used for framing usually through a waist level viewfinder and one is used for the actual taking of the photograph. Holga TLR models are available in both 120 (120-TLR, 120-GTLR) and 135/35mm (135-TLR, 135-BCTLR) formats.

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UEI (Universal Electronics Industries): The Hong Kong based company which manufacturers Holga cameras.

Underexposure: Refers to an image where insufficient light had reached the film at the time of capture. Results in an overly dark image.

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Vignetting: A visible falling off of light intensity in an image resulting in dark corners. A characteristic usually much loved by Holga photographers.

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Wide angle (Lens): A lens which has a shorter focal length resulting in a wider field of view which can be captured. A Fisheye is an Ultra-wide angle lens. A Holga wide angle lens can be attached to most Holga camera models.



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