The Digital Holga?

Some time ago, I wanted bad to shoot some film, yes you know I was practically born into the digital era (had a Pentax “digital camera” before my first Canon G3!!!). So I played a little with some films until my son decided that the film camera is his,and I had to get a “new” one. As I had all the digital stuff I wanted, I decided to get something else and bought a plasticĀ  stupid simple camera (the one on the right side) “Holga”. As far as I know (and I’m no expert on this topic), Holga was a camera for 120 slides (square images), but some guy in China/HongKong decided its time to do a 35mm version.

What was fun about the original?

As there where no or very little quality control in the original Russian factory, and aiming for a budget and affordable camera, they went and produced a plastic lens for the camera, this plastic lens combined with some light licking into the camera and defused black corners , somehow became into a hit! There are still fans for that use that for fan and more (see flickr here). What I liked most with the my toy Holga was that sa of its plastic lens, lack of auto focus , it delivered some old looking images, the kind you have to Photoshop it if you want to get it out of your digital camera. I know I had some scans somewhere here.

So one day I get an Email from a friend that told me:

  • Friend: Hi you remember that plastic holga you got?
  • Me: Yep, I know?
  • Friend:Well, you can get it for your digital, here is the link.
  • Me: TNX!

After 10 days I got my toy plastic lens for my Canon 1000D and 30D (it won’t be good on the 5D…), and here are my thoughts about it:

  • First of all, if you are afraid to attach the lens to your camera, don’t. Its simple just like your other lens.
  • There are some differences between the original Holga and your digital Holga lens, as the film holga is about 49mm, the digital is 60mm.
  • Some other difference is by the way you can learn how to use it. While on the digital camera, you can see through the “viewfinder” the distance your lens is focusing to, this is not available with the digital version, for every time you want to shoot, you’ll have to look at the lens and see that your focusing distance is fine.
  • While with your film version you could be sure that the exposure will be correct – you have two modes sunny and cloudy (f/11 for sunny and f/8 for cloudy), its not the same with the digital, where I think it has about three stops under the film- if with the film you’ll use 100ISO with the digital you’d have to use 1600ISO for the same shutter speed. Lets say that the f/8 on the film version, isn’t exactly f/8 on the digital version, but that’s not a problem as ISO and digital camera pair together well and ISO 1600 isn’t much of a problem… `-)
  • Generally it feels a little stiffer than the film version.
  • The big advantage with the digital cameras is that you don’t need film for that and the fact that you can get the results for faster learning.
  • Ahh and there is P mode.
  • Ahh and there flash on your camera!!!
  • Ahh and there is also video available.

Liked the idea so far? Here are two options to buy The Holga style for your DSR:

The Full Holga kit for your DSLR (89$ Amazon.Com)

Just the Lens (About 25$ at

How to use your Holga lens?

  1. Pair it to the camera.
  2. Dail your camera to Manual or P exposure metering mode .
  3. Focus your lens to the desired distance. And of you go.

So lets see some examples:



I must say that I’m a little addict to this type of photography, not only for the effect of the images, but more for the concept of trying to do it the old fashion way. The lens produce some more vibrant color and the diffused look that you’d expect from the plastic lens. I think it worth the 17$-20$ if you treat it like a fun gadget. By the way, there areĀ  more stuff to add to it, like colored filters and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 + = nine