What is a Holga?

It's an inexpensive medium format camera made in China with a plastic body and plastic lens. It has one speed (around 1/100th of a second) and one aperture (F8). It comes in three varieties, the standard Holga, the Holga with built-in flash, and the Holga with a glass lens which is known as the Woca. It is focused manually by turning the lens barrel to little icons of one person, three people, a bunch of people, or a mountain. It can be set up for twelve 6x6cm exposures or sixteen 4.5x6cm exposures on a roll of 120 film. The Holga is the only currently produced medium format camera that you can buy for less than a hundred bucks. You could (and should) get all 3 variants of the Holga for less than $80, whereas the lens cap for a Hasselblad could cost that much.

The Holga is prone to vignetting (i.e. the corners turn dark) and gets more blurry the further it gets from the center of the frame. It can be prone to light leaks if you don't know where to put the black duct tape (my personal favorite). Hey, if you want cheap normal looking pictures, get a Kodak. The Holga is for people who want photographs with character. It is a paradox of blurry detail. When you scan a negative from a Holga, you can see that it is not exactly sharp, but it is not exactly sharp zoomed in to a point where you would have just a collection of dots from a negative made by an APS camera. (That is, if you could see the negative from an APS camera. Those cowards, they hide in a cartridge, like little babies.)

The Holga is like drugs that somehow make your life better. You try a Holga, then a Diana, then maybe a Brownie or the hard stuff like a twin lens camera, maybe a Lubitel or a Seagull. You begin to realize that pictures can have charm, and that people don't want cookie cutter pictures any more than cookie cutter lives. You start looking through ebay to find all those off-beat cameras because the chain stores won't have them. You find out that most people who sell them, don't just take your money and run! They're honest! Total honest strangers!  Before you know it, you will uncover a love for humanity that was buried long ago beneath the heaping crap of mass marketing and 15 minute fame.

In short, a Holga is a way to find yourself.