There is something about listening to records on a phonograph that cannot be reproduced in any other form. The sound it produces seems so precious and transitory. But although some of us may own and occasionally play records, most of us have succumbed to technology and the majority of our listening is overall of a digital format.
The same can be said of photography. Most of us have and use affordable digital cameras. Not always being the case, affordability for the masses in the 1960s and even up through the 1980s in some countries such as China, meant a cheap plastic camera.
Two types of these plastic cameras were Diana Cameras and Holga Cameras, both of them used 120 medium format film. These cameras were available for about a dollar or so, and were entirely comprised of plastic, lens and all.
These cameras produce soft, fuzzy images, with random light leaks and have a vignette, which is unstable and unpredictable. Not surprisingly, both of these cameras did poorly in the overall market because of their quirks and the rising popularity of 35mm film.
Eventually most of the cameras were discontinued and no longer produced, but through the science of yard sales and vintage shops these cameras had a resurgence of popularity with the help from artist and Lo-fi photographers in need of new and interesting tools.
It’s no doubt these cameras produce unruly aberrations, but the pleasure of their photographs seem to be in the flaws and accidents that one finds in their unexpected dream like quality.
Going Lo-fi is having to accept the unexpected, like a record that skips, it may be that some find the joy of not knowing exactly how something may turn out and simply can enjoy the pleasure of the surprise.
Both Diana and Holga cameras can still be purchased vintage or as reproduced models. Prices vary, but they are no longer about a dollar, except for maybe at a really great yard sale. Here is a sample of images from the Holga blog.