The Price of Marketing

I haven’t written much of my little cheap camera “hobby” here on the ‘geek, though I made a little mention of it on the now-abandoned mediageeeklife blog, and wrote about it in mediageeek zine #2. I’ve amassed a nice little pile of cheap “vintage” cameras that I enjoy taking weird pics with. One of them is a plastic brick-like box called the Holga 35.

By manufacturing heritage it’s a cousin of the just-plain Holga camera, a favorite of art photographers and plastic camera aficionados for its plastic lens and unpredictable nature.

The Holga 35 is much more modern by comparison, sporting early 80s type autofocus and exposure, combined with the aesthetics of a cheap knock-off brand walkman bought at Walgreen’s in 1983.

I got mine for $15 on Ebay, brand new, shipped from Hong Kong, just to mess around with (although now I see the price has gone up to $20 – $30 — hmmmm). It’s big sister, the regular Holga is about $20, but takes medium-format film which is much more expensive to buy, process and print. And, honestly, I really haven’t shot too many pics with it yet.

But the reason I’m blogging this is because I was clicking around the lomography website this evening to find instructions for my eBay’d colorsplash flash when I noticed that the Lomo people are now selling the lowly Holga 35 camerafor $55 – $65 dollars (plus shipping)!

Now, we have to acknowledge that the whole “cult” behind a sloppily-assembled, slightly obsolete Soviet-engineered camera is a clever bit of viral marketing. I won’t be the first to say this, but selling it for $180 is a bit of crookery, and just goes to show how effective marketing can be, especially when it poses as something more arty and bohemian.

It is just as much of a ripoff selling a $15 Chinese plastic camera for $65, justified by dressing it up in ironic hipness.

But of course, you knew this. I was just kind of blown away, thinking that when I bought it that this $15 pile of plastic would never be cool enough for Lomo. Either that, or I’m a trendsetter.