Open Source Project Aims to Breathe New Life Into Classic Holga Camera

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 06, 2010

Photography buffs revere the Holga camera as something of a cult classic. Originally created as an inexpensive mass-market camera in China, professional photographers fell in love with the way its limitations created unique images that fancy high-end cameras could not.

Industrial designer and photographer Saikat Biswas plans to improve on the original Holga by upgrading it to a digital device while still retaining its original charm. His open source project, Holga D, aims to crowdsource the development of a second-generation Holga that uses today's digital technology to pick up where the old design left off.

Biswas hopes to develop the Holga D with the input of photographers, software developers, and hardware designers, then release the software and schematics under an open source license. His long-term goal is to create a digital version of the original Holga camera that encourages small camera manufacturers to inexpensively produce for the photography industry.

"This kind of open-source product license would open up a lot of new possibilities," writes Biswas. "For example, manufacturers would be able to produce lightweight and cheap plastic camera as well as more expensive and rugged metal body based on the same design. The manufacturers would also be able to develop simple or complex accessories like lens adapters for current or old lenses from other brands, lenses, viewfinders etc. Likewise, on the software/firmware side, the open source code would also open up new possibilities."

Biswas anticipates a high demand for the Holga D because today's high-end cameras don't offer photographers the ability to reproduce the "vignetting, chromatic aberrations, barrel distortions" and other elements of photos taken with older cameras. To learn more about the Holga D, visit its project page, then head over to Biswas' blog and share your thoughts on his idea.