Lomography Wednesday: Holga Lens Review

holga lens review

The Holga lens for Nikon and Canon is the classic Holga lens with various mount for most DSLR camera. The lens is supposed to transform your digital camera into a toy camera using the unique Holga lens to create distorted and whimsical photos without the need of a full Holga camera or using film. It has the same focusing options as the original lens (mountain, crowd, group, 1 person) and even vignettes. I’ve owned my Holga lens for Nikon for almost 2 years now and actually have the Diana version of it too (review here) and thought it was about time that I review to. I will do a comparison between the two sometime later this summer as well so look out for that. To start I thought I’d show you what’s possible with the lens and show you  side by side comparisons of my Nikon D7000 with a regular DSLR lens to the Holga lens.

Landscape and group photos

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*my Nikon DSLR has a double exposure mode built in so only possible if your camera supports it

 Nikon with regular lens and then Holga lens:

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*all of these shots were taken from the same location switching between the lens, however due to the narrow field of view I had to increase the exposure time to adjust for the light levels.

Closer look at the light disparity
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*The first image is with the Nikon lens, Left shows the true conversion from a regular lens to the Holga lens in terms of light, right is after adjustment. This doesn’t seem like much of issue in this situation however this is a bright Spring day at an hour where the sun is right above. You will have a tough time with taking shots with low lower light whether it’s in the shade, indoors, cloudly day, in the evening, or winter months.


The Good:

  • no need to own a Holga camera
  • available for a lot of various camera mounts
  • price is $30 (here or here)
  • don’t have to buy/develop film
  • able to experiment with the Holga lens without having to worry
  • retro style coloring
  • light weight
  • if your DSLR camera has video capability you can make Holga videos
  • affordable accessories (Marco, Close Up, Telephoto and Wide Angle attachments available)

The Bad:

  • very dark
  • narrow field of view
  • unable to take self-portraits or close up shots
  • unable to take inside photos/night shots without flash
  • hard to focus
  • viewfinder on camera becomes very dark and hard to use
  • no light leaks or square format
  • missing the color saturation of film
  • less clarity / sharpness
  • manually have to edit into square format

At its current price I’d say it’s worth a try if you have a DSLR camera, especially if you don’t own a Holga camera already or are hesitant about getting into film photography or can’t afford the cost of film photography. At least try it. Now with that said one of the biggest issues I have with the Holga lens is almost exactly what may appeal to a large audience and that’s the non-square, non-film format. Now there are a few Holga camera out there that use 35 film and don’t have the square format but personally I’m use to my Holga shots be square and I think that really adds to the charm of the Holga camera. As well the lens alone does not equal the Holga feel because digital just doesn’t have the same color saturation and general feel as film does. This lens just doesn’t make me feel like I am shooting with a Holga camera, instead it makes me feel like I’m shooting with an older generic film camera that could really be from any decade in the last 20 years. Most of the specialness that I feel when I get my Holga shots back from the developers just is not there for me when I take photos with this lens. If that doesn’t bother you however you’d probably love this camera. Pssst though, you can buy Holga camera for just $10 more – film photography is amazing!

Top 10 Photos:


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