Remember when life wasn’t so complicated, when there wasn’t a million things to remember, and when photography wasn’t a serious hobby but just . . . for fun? Holga remembers.
There is freedom in simplicity. You can pour over MTF graphs online and ridiculous DxO Mark scores, or you can do-it-yourself and experiment with something deliciously old school.
The Holga lens is available for a variety of focal lengths and mounts. We used a 25mm f/8 for our Sony A7, but other versions are available as follows:
- Holga 25mm f/8 Lens for Sony E-mount
- Holga Pinhole Lens for Sony E-mount
- Holga 60mm f/8, Manual Focus Lens for Canon EOS
- Holga Pinhole Lens for Canon EOS
- Holga 60mm f/8 Lens for Nikon DSLR
- Holga Pinhole Lens for Nikon DSLR
- Holga 25mm f/8 Lens for Olympus and Panasonic
5. The Lovely 35mm Film Look
Digital is clean, precise, and sterile. Film has a texture to it, or as Patrick Bateman might say, “the tasteful thickness of it.” But the problem with 35mm film is the time, expense, and effort of dealing with a physical media, not to mention, the way we consume photography has long changed from printed photo to digital websites.
So without Adobe trickery or in-camera filters, the Holga lens, on a digital camera, manages the closest approximation of film since, well, 35mm film. It reminds me of Fuji Provia slide film, muted tones and a subdued dynamic range. It is beautifully nostalgic, yet genuine.
4. All About the Lens Flare
Your $2,000 high-powered nano coated lens cannot do what this $15 plastic meniscus lens does. Purists be damned, but it’s a different paintbrush for a different look. The sun showers a beautiful halo of flare in backlit portraits.
At certain angles, the oddly shaped aperture reveals itself through the flare. For cameras with live view and EVFs, you can easily play around with the placement of the flare to get a unique look. The lens flare is one of my favorite aspects of this lens.
3. Worry Free Composition and Focusing
Heavy vignetting forces you to center your objects in most situations. This is liberating rather than limiting, because it frees you to concentrate on other aspects of the image. You can communicate with your model better. You can look at her expression more. You don’t have to worry about recomposing after focus lock.
I found myself taking a lot more photos than I normally would. For a three hour on-location shoot, I usually take between 200-400 photos. With this Holga lens, I was averaging 400-500. I didn’t have to worry about composition. I didn’t have to worry about focus. I paid more attention to the model. I paid more attention to the shot. It was brilliant.
2. It’s Brilliant at Night and with Flash
Sensor noise, in most situations, detract and distract from a modern digital image. However, for these Holga style portraits, noise adds texture and organic-ness to the photograph. In post, I would take away color noise but keep luminance noise to emulate film grain.
The lens is also absolutely brilliant with direct flash. In fact, most of my shots were taken with a Terry Style direct flash setup, day or night. Since the fixed aperture was f/8, I found that for portraits, the flash added a little extra pop and contrast to the otherwise dark images. I had my manual Meike MK300 flash firing at 1/32 power.
1. No Touchup Post Processing
The Holga’s soft rendering makes it an ideal portrait lens. Skin imperfections are minimized while good contrast is retained. All the images here are essentially untouched for skin imperfections, the most tedious and least creative aspect for any veteran retoucher. You are left to play with the colors, tones, and exposure.
By the end of my shoots, I had a lot more keepers and I was able to process them much more quickly because I didn’t have to retouch skin. The results are unique and I am very happy with them. Overall, the lens was a joy to use and shoot.