vintage "toy" cameras... holga and diana : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

i'm interested in the vintage 'toy' cameras such as the diana and holga models. ive seen some going cheaply on auctions like ebay.. can anyone tell me a bit more about them? not being much of an expert on photography and having only use 35mm cameras i dont have much information on them. what kind of film do they take and would it be possible to get the films processed in normal high street places?

-- david (, December 30, 2001



I've only played around with a Holga a little bit. You can get them at They use 120 film and cost about 30$ US.

There are several sites on the web devoted to these cameras; try a google search.

Basically they have an f stop of about 11 and a shutter speed of about 1/100th. The lens does not quite cover the 6x6 negative they produce. You need to tape them up some to prevent light leaks. The lens is made of plastic and is fairly poor. It has three focus positions, about 5 feet, about 10 feet, and about 30 feet. It's best to use a film with a wide latitude with these cameras, like XP-2 or Tri-X.

People who know what they are doing make marvelous photographs with them.

Holgas are technically "medium format" cameras and typically used by artists interested in alternatives to modern photography. You may get more responses from people on medium format or alternative process websites.

Good luck with your pictures.

-- Erik Ryberg (, December 30, 2001.

Hi David...When I was in photo school way back in the late 60's, One of our assignments was to buy a Diana and shoot 6 or 8 rolls of film in 1 day. The cameras cost 3 or 4 dollars at the time, used 120 roll film, and made 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 negatives. The camera had a remarkably good plastic lens. It had a fixed aperture and 2 shutter settings. One shutter setting was a fixed speed (sunny 16 rule), and the other setting was bulb (aperture open as long as the button was depressed)

It was an interesting assignment, because the camera took amazingly good photographs, and it was easy to do multiple exposures and you could wind the film while the picture was being made.

It was an interesting assignment and a lot of fun. A great break from trying to produce perfectly sharp and perfectly exposed negatives...

-- Dave Richhart (, December 30, 2001.

David, I've taught plastic camera workshops and have used the Holga for personal landscapes and streetscapes for about 6 years. The Holga is only about $15 from Freestyle, plus shipping. There is nothing "vintage" about it, hasn't been around that long. The Diana is no longer manufactured and must be found at eBay or flea markets. It's going for about $80. The main difference between the two is that the Holga is quite sharp in the middle and blurry around the edges of the 6x6 square. The Diana is somewhat soft all over, and its neg is a smaller square. I use the Holga for my work because I like the centralizing of the image -- the viewer's eye goes to the center where it is sharp. The corners are vignetted and this contributes to the sensation of being a voyeur or dreamer (as most photographers are!).

When you get the Holga follow the directions. Remove the plastic rectangular insert and throw it away -- it covers the interesting blurred parts. Using black photographic tape, tape over the two small holes inside. Tighten up the loose film spools with folded film box cardboard. Tape the back along the seams after loading your film. Using a dull knife or screwdriver carefully, push the film counter to 12. Tape the red counter window except when winding. It's best to unload the film in a changing bag or darkroom to be sure it hasn't wound too loosely. This happens occasionally and you get bad fog along the film edges. Take aluminum foil with you to wrap these loose rolls in the dark.

Some of my Holga pictures ("Imagining Antarctica") can be seen at

To see what Diana images can look like in the hands of an artist, find the book "Iowa" by Nancy Rexroth. Great book.

Feel free to email me with questions.

-- Sandy Sorlien (, December 30, 2001.

hi david you might want to check out the lomo website. good luck john

-- john nanian (, December 30, 2001.


Take a look at this:

You can find it on the classifieds.

Randy Smith makes modified Holgas. This seems to be a real art form for him.

When I'm rich again (after the holiday expenses!) I will order one of his "PinHolga" cameras...a precise pinhole Holga.

Holgas in Color! Take a look. Where will this end?

I sound like his agent, but I'm not. However, I do think you might consider what he's trying to do with these unique cameras.

-- Todd Frederick (, January 01, 2002.

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