What I Learned When I Went To Japan With a Holga Digital (Preview)

Being a fan—rather than an expert—of photography, I normally leave serious camera-related features to the pros. However, the excitement of having a Holga Digital in the office, paired with a personal trip to Japan, was opportunity enough for me to take this little puppy out for a walk: against the better judgement of my peers, I might add!

On paper, what I liked about the Holga Digital was the omission of an LCD screen and the allure of capturing snapshots without knowing how the final result will end up. A novel throwback to a bygone era with the added quirk of an SD card slot for casuals who still like to keep a toe dipped in digital.


Holga selfie

I won’t comment on the technical aspects of Holga Digital since Bokeh! video has got that covered, but what I will talk about is the experience I had using it while on holiday.


We’re all going on a summer holgaday

As I sat in the departure lounge, I toggled on the Holga Digital and a red blinker lit up to indicate its readiness—unfortunately, the indoor shots appeared underexposed in the 4pm light. I knew they gave it a hotshoe for a reason but didn’t expect it to be such a necessity for dimly lit environments.


This could be a case for Mulder and Scully

Oh well, not to worry—Japan was forecast to have plenty of sunshine anyway!


My eyes are over here

Once I touched down in Kyoto, I turned tourist mode on and went about my cheesy photo walk. It seems this bird statue thing was an unfortunate casualty of ‘objects in viewfinder are closer than they appear’.


Yosakoi dancers spreading summer cheer

I guess Holga Digital isn’t really about perfect framing, so it’s best not to trust that viewfinder all too much anyway. Where it really shines is in well-lit open spaces.


One of the shrine’s many guardian wolves

Framing snafus are easier to forgive when outside because there’s so much more interesting stuff going on than a big bird. It turned out that Inari Shrine was the perfect backdrop for showcasing these on-the-fly candid moments


A pair of beanie boppers in the sweltering summer heat

However, there was one big problem. The little red blinker was unreadable in daylight and I couldn’t tell whether it was ON, out of batteries, or in the middle of processing an image I had just taken.



Sometimes I had to trust in blind faith when taking photos which wound up a bit iffy given that at times the camera didn’t turn OFF or ON when I wanted.


They see me strollin

Still, it was fun to sow photographic seeds and reap their rewards at the end of the day.


Just a bit of overly cute Japanese signage

My Japan trip became as much a nostalgia trip as it was a holiday, but the ‘throw away to keeper’ ratio was way too high for my liking and sooner made me appreciate bringing my Canon G16 that much more!


JJ Abrams approves this lens flare

Holga Digital still has about two weeks to go on their kickstarter campaign and it should be noted that the version used is an early release prototype model with many of these kinks hopefully ironed out come release.

Update 07/10/2015:

Holga Digital contacted us with confirmed improvements to the final version.

  • Extra indicator light added inside the view finder
  • Power save mode after standby for 5 mins
  • Tactile dial that will “lock” into place with each toggle

Holga Digital will be released 31st January 2016 retailing at USD $70.