A Holga is a 'toy camera' designed in the early 1980's in Hong Kongs to feed the country's lust for photography. The concept was simple; a minimal, inexpensive medium format camera that uses 120 film. Giving the photography mad a chance to enter the world of medium format photography, the film of choice for professional photographers.
It wasn't amazingly popular in its birth country, but sold enough for the manufacturers to keep up production. However over the next few years it become more and more popular with photographers and creative people around the globe. Due to the unique characteristics of the camera, the plastic, or basic glass, lens and the camera body's simple design you can never really be too sure what you're going to get out of a Holga.
The Holga made me enjoy photography again!
The Holga camera has a bulb switch that allows you to keep the shutter open for as long as you hold down the shutter allowing long exposure shots
The plastic and lofi glass lenses of the holga camera create beautifully dreamy soft focus edges to your photos, as well as vivid bright colours
The Holga Camera takes 120 medium format film and allows you to take regular rectangular shots or super fun square photos.
As the Holga is a real film camera you can put REAL black and white film in it and get all the gorgeous tones and contrast that you can't fake with photoshop or camera apps
The shutter release and film advance on a holga are decoupled, so you can shoot as many images on one frame as you want, overlaying them to create bonkers double exposures.
This is a hard question to answer, especially when we're trying to sell you one. But basically (from a technical photographic point of view) the camera isn't really built very well. It has either a plastic or low quality glass lens. A lot of the cameras have light leaks and not much effort in the manufacturing process has been made to limit the vignetting.
But it's these 'features' that create the brilliant lo-fi images that Holga users love.
Mechanically, the camera is very simple. It has a simple meniscus lens, two aperture settings (sunny (f/11) and cloudy (f/8)) one shutter speed (about 1/100) and an interesting zone focusing system which requires you to decide whether your subject is most like a single person, a family, a large group of people or a mountain. There is also a bulb setting for long exposure shots and a tripod mount to keep it steady when doing so. Some versions also have an inbuilt flash.