Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First Impressions: Holga 29mm Lens for Samsung NX Cameras

The Holga lens that I ordered from China arrived in the mail today. I ripped open the package and attached the 29mm lens onto my Samsung NX200.

If you don't know what a Holga is, it's a cheap, plastic, extremely basic medium format film camera. But it can capture images in a unique and interesting way. I bought one for $20.
Horse At Fence - Onyx, California
Captured with a Holga 120N camera.
Holga recently started making their cheap, plastic lenses available for use on popular digital cameras. They have lenses compatible with Canon, Nikon, Pentax and others, including Samsung.

I paid $15 for my 29mm lens, and that included shipping.

So why would anyone want this lens? Well, first, it's fun and different. Second, you can create the Holga look without having to purchase and develop 120 film, so it is much more convenient than using an actual Holga camera.

I captured a few photographs at my home just to try it out. I discovered that there are some differences between using a Holga lens on a Holga camera and using one on a digital camera.

First, exposure is controlled exclusively by ISO on a Holga camera, while it is controlled by ISO and/or shutter speed on a digital camera.

Second, on a Holga camera one has the choice of either rectangular or square images, but on a digital camera it is restricted to rectangular images. Yes, the images can be cropped to square, but you will crop out the desirable vignette.

Third, no light leaks. Light leaks are fun surprises with Holga cameras, but you won't find any on your digital files.

Fourth, focusing is less guesswork when using the lens on a digital camera. You use zone focusing (sort of, anyway) with a Holga camera, but you can actually see the focus with a digital camera.

Fifth, even with a 20 megapixel camera, there is not nearly as much resolution from a digital capture as there is from a high-quality scan of medium format film.

So while attaching a Holga lens to a digital camera gives a Holga effect, it is not exactly the same as actually using a Holga camera. This is both good and bad.

Below are the Holga photographs that I created today using this new lens attached to my Samsung NX200.
Red Flower Blossoms - Stallion Springs, California
Apple Thought - Stallion Springs, California
Hose And Faucet - Stallion Springs, California
Window Unicorn - Stallion Springs, California

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