Which Holga do I Choose?

Since the launch of the original Holga 120S there have been a number of new models introduced by the manufacturer. Deciding which Holga camera and lenses to buy either for a first camera/lens or to add to an existing collection can be confusing. Hopefully the information here in the Help section will make it easier to make that decision. In order to get to that decision there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself:

Film Format

The Original Holga Camera (120S) and most subsequent models up to recent times use 120 Medium Format film rather than 35mm film. For those who are not familiar with these terms here are some basics:

  • 120 Medium Format Film: Introduced by Kodak in 1901 this is a ‘Roll’ film (meaning it doesn’t come in a cartridge but on a ‘spool’). The term ‘Medium’ is used because it’s larger than 135 or 35mm film but smaller than 4”x5” beyond which is considered ‘Large’ format. Because the film does not come in a cartridge it has a backing paper to protect it but still needs to be handled with more care than 35mm as it doesn’t have the protection a cartridge offers. Frame number markings are printed on the backing paper to facilitate winding of the film. Due to the larger size of the film the images produced are bigger than 35mm (2.7x bigger if using a 6×4.5cm mask or 3.6x bigger if using a square 6x6cm mask)
  • 135/35mm Format Film: Introduced by Kodak in 1934 as a ‘Cartridge’ film this is what most folk are familiar with if they have used a consumer film camera in the past 20 years. Images are generally shot in a fixed size of 24x36mm

So the questions you need to ask yourself about Film Format are:

  1. Do I want the ‘Original’ (squarer) Holga 120 look or am I happy with a 35mm (more rectangular) look? (With a 120 format you can use an adapter to get a rectangular image but you can’t go the other way)
  2. Which film format am I able to purchase easily and cheaply at a store or online?
  3. Which film format can I get developed conveniently? (Almost all labs will develop 35mm but only a some of those will be able to handle 120)

Lens Choice

Up till recently there was only one choice when it came to lenses on a Holga camera being plastic. However recently the manufacturer has started offering a choice of either Plastic or Glass in many of the models. To be honest there is a lot of debate and talk on the net about the merits of each and the differences between them when it comes to the final image. To summarize it looks like there isn’t really much difference between Plastic and Glass. Probably the point most agreed on is that a Plastic lens does produce more ‘Vignetting’ than a Glass one.


There are three choices when it comes to Flash:

The Built-In Flashes on Holga Camera’s are very simple low powered (usually with a couple of AA batteries) parts and will really only add a small amount of light to your image. The ‘Colorsplash’ effect can be fun and certainly allows you to be more creative. If you are serious about Flash photography and controlling light then you will probably need to use one or more dedicated external Flash units possibly combining the Built-In flash of a Holga as a trigger flash.

General Use vs Specialist

Recently there have been a few Holga Camera models introduced which offer a more ‘Specialist’ type of shooting images. Amongst them are:

  • PinholeHolga Cameras (120 or 135 format)
  • 3D Stereo Holga Holga Cameras (120 or 135 format)
  • TLR – Twin Lens Reflex Holga Cameras (120 or 35 format)
  • TIM – Twin Image Maker Holga Cameras (120 or 35 format)
  • Wide – Panoramic Format (120 format)

Not all of these are currently available on HolgaDirect but subject to demand we hope to stock these exciting models shortly.


Okay, so you got this far down the page and you still don’t know which model to buy. In order to try and help please take a look at the ‘Model Comparison by Features’ page. If you are still stuck and just want a suggestion for a first time Holga camera purchase you can’t really go wrong with either the Holga 120N (if you can get 120 format film) or the Holga 135BC (if you cannot get 120 format but can get hold of 35mm film).


At the end of 2010 after realising that there was a high level of interest in Holga style images from Digital Photographers the Holga designers created a lens specifically for Digital SLR bodies. These lenses would be essentially the same design as the standard 60mm lens that was attached to the regular Holga 120 Medium Format film cameras with a fixed aperture of f/8. The first two models to roll off the production line were designed for Canon and Nikon SLR/DSLR cameras. After a few months on sale there was sufficient feedback for Holga to refine the design to offer an increased level of ‘Holga-ness’. In actuality this mean a higher level of vignetting and a softer focus than the first versions of the lenses exhibited. This new design was released in March 2011. As of August 2011 the Holga lens for digital cameras can be found for the following mounts:

The HolgaDirect Store
After reading all the above information we hope you have some idea of which Holga suits you. To see more information about the Holga Camera’s and Lenses in more detail please head over to our Online Store. If you have any questions about any of the products contact us through the contact links within the store and we’ll respond as quickly as we can!

Article by The HolgaDirect Team


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