Most helpful positive review
81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
holga lens is limiting, but fun.
on November 14, 2011
A couple weeks ago, I randomly came across these lenses (they have them for both Canon and Nikon mount).. I knew of the Holga film cameras making some what of a come back, and they sounded fun, but no chance was I going to buy a low quality film camera and film.. Even if I did buy that stuff, I won't lie, I'm a child of this here digital era, and I'm just WAY too lazy to go get pictures developed - just not going to happen! Are you kidding me?? You need to be seriously dedicated to go THAT far out of your way to get some really poor quality pictures..
But right! Then I discovered this Holga lens for your DSLR! And it is CHEAP (in price)! So I said what the heck, and I bought one! Seriously, as anyone with a DSLR knows, even a cheap lens is pretty danged expensive! But this little guy? Not expensive!! And after playing around with it, it's worth it just to have as something fun-and-different to spice up your DSLR bag/kit! Really, if you can't think of anything, just toss this lens on your camera, try reeaally hard to see through your view finder, and it's kind of amazing how that really boring normal ol' tree in the back yard all of a sudden looks cool and completely different through this piece of sh-glass (plastic, really..)! : D I'm telling you this little guy is a whole lot of fun!
And I'm also telling you, your pictures are going to look pretty danged bad! This is NOT a regular lens! It's made to take POOR pictures. And it excels at it!! : D So don't go complaining when you buy it that your pictures look less-than-stellar.. And don't forget it's MANUAL FOCUS, so your camera won't focus for you! (Here's my quick and dirty guess for focusing: the closest subject is 5 feet away, the mountain is for something 25 feet away or more...)
However, let me get a little technical real quick about a couple things...
Focal Length: When I was reading about this lens, I kept seeing 60mm "equivalent"! So I figured they were implying it would be a 60mm lens on a Canon Digital Rebel series (which has a smaller image-capturing-area than full frame digital or 35mm film cameras). NOT SO! This is labeled just like any other lens.. It's a 60mm focal length for 35mm film.. So if you put this on a Canon 5D (or 1Ds, if you're really awesome enough to own both that camera and this lens), then you'll have a straight up 60mm focal length.
But on your trusty Canon Digital Rebel or xxD series (or 7D), this 60mm must be multiplied by 1.6 to get the "actual" focal length.. which is 96mm. Putting it another way, if you have the standard Canon kit zoom, 18-55mm, the field of view is going to be pretty similar to when you have that zoom zoomed all the way in to 55mm. Go try that, and you'll get the idea of what it'll be like.
I was a little disappointed by this at first, since I'm more of a slightly-wider-field-of-view-kind-of-guy (translation, give me a 35mm lens for my crop sensor digital rebel, rather than a 60mm lens, and I'll be much happier), but after playing around with it and its limitations, I kind of like the tighter field of view. I'm forced to step back, and also stick with 1 subject(ish), and there's so much vignetting (blackness / light-fall-off around the edges), it's pointless to really construct a full on shot.. You lose a lot of your composition to the vignetting. IE stop trying to compose like normal! Think old-school point and shoot!! Find a subject, shove it into the middle(ish) of the frame, and take the picture! Forget what you've been taught about photography! (Welcome to lomo-style photography! Lomography, as it were..) Okay, moving on...
Aperture / F-stop: This guy is advertised as an f/8 lens. That is NOT correct... It's more like an f/32 lens! The day I got this, I didn't get a chance to use it til night time, so I (tried) to snap a couple pictures in the house.. HAH! This lens is absolutely not f/8! Measuring the outdoor light requirements, it's pretty much an f/32 lens, which is 4 stops slower than f/8.. Which means a few things..
a) You need a LOT of light (more on that later..) AND high ISO. Seriously you need both. OKAY, or you need a tripod.. but that sort of defeats the purpose of this lens..
b) Pretty big depth of field.. The "focus" ring is a joke and shows 1 body, 3 bodies, a group of bodies, a mountain.. choose your depth based on what fits in the frame, haha! : D Pretty much no matter where the focus ring is set, you'll still get a moderately-acceptable image..
c) Focus will always be a little bit soft (forget sharp detail when you zoom all the way in!) due to the nature of digital imaging sensors and high f-stops.. This will NOT be a problem, I'm just letting you know.. And a lot of post-processing programs can sharpen up edge detail very nicely... You may never even notice! I'm just saying.. Don't get frustrated when you never seem to land that perfect focus.. You can't. It's just not possible with f/32. But there's a huge difference between soft-focus and out of focus / blurry! : D You won't get the absolute detail, but edge detail will be just fine! Embrace the softness and love it!
d) Looking through your view finder, it might be pretty dim! The view finder shows what's coming through the actual lens, and f/32 is nottt a lot of light, so it might be a bit hard to see.. You will probably be able to see the center of the frame OK, but the edges may look pretty dark.. Another reason for not bothering to compose too much! : D
Back to how f/32 affects your ability to take pictures...
Indoor photography.. Long story short, indoor photography will be extremely limited with this lens.. If you have a camera that can do 3200+ ISO, perhaps you can get a few shots with a flash, otherwise they will be long-exposure images. Well, I'm talking about candids.. If you toss your camera on a tripod, and are taking pictures of indoor still life, go to town! No problem..
Outdoor photography, you're looking at ISO 800 in FULL SUN LIGHT. If you ask me, that's not really a problem, since it'll just add some grainy-ness to your already "stylized" picture.. And modern DSLRs handle auto-ISO well over ISO 1600, so you should be fine shooting in Auto mode. Just to overdo the explanation, though, let me give you a break down... A normal sun-light photo is about 1/250th of a second at f/8 at ISO 100. Since you're dealing with 4 stops slower (f/32), you need to go to ISO 1600 to do 1/250th of a second.. Or you can stay at ISO 100, and drop down to 1/15 of a second.. Which will most likely be blurry no matter what, due to camera shake, if you're hand holding.. ISO 800 and 1/125th is just dandy. HOWEVER, that's full on sun light! Got some clouds? You're maybe looking at 1/125th (if you're lucky..) at f/8 at ISO 100.. 1/60th of a second at ISO 800 is about the limit of hand-holdability, unless you have a very steady hand. Sure the extra blurriness might add to the already-bad-image, but I'm not a fan of camera shake blur.. It isn't really the same as a soft-focus f/32. Moving on (I'm sorry you're still reading this..)!
Minimum focus distance: I really didn't try very hard to find out. I'd say 5 feet-ish? Anything closer than that was obviously out of focus.. And again, don't expect miracles.. At f/32, you have a pretty big depth of field, but nothing is going to be mind blowingly sharp.. Let's say your subject is about 8 feet away, then stuff from 5 feet to about 13 feet away will be in focus.. (Let's assume that's the 1-person setting..). The mountain setting is probably good for something about 25 feet away or more.. Because focusing on a subject at 20 feet will give you focus from 10 feet to infinity... So guestimate off those numbers.. 20 feet, 25 feet, with the huge depth of field and slight softness this thing gives you, you'll never even notice if you didn't focus right...)
That covers the lens technicals..
Here are the physical attributes of the actual lens:
a) it's plastic
b) it's about 1.25 inches tall, and about 2.75 inches wide (only because that's the width of the Canon mount area, haha.. the barrel is only about 2 inches wide..
c) it weighs like 2 ounces? I have no idea, haha.. It might as well weight NOTHING. Seriously. Did I mention it's plastic?
d) it fits kind of loosely onto the camera.. But then again, I'm used to machined metal mounts, etc.. It's not going to fall off or anything, but it's probably not going to keep out the fog from the movie The Fog either (not that that even matters, since if the Fog gets you, you're done for well before your camera will be...)
e) the focus "ring" is beautiful, in a Bride of Chucky sort of way (which I've sort of already covered.. how it just goes from 1 person, to 3 people to a big group, to a mountain....).
f) the hole on the back side has tiny holes all around it, which I guess gives you the ultra vignetted image. It might also "help" limit the light getting to the sensor, which gets you more like an f/32..? I'm not really sure... The actual aperture (you can see it through the front) is larger than the hole on the back..
g) there's a white mark that matches the Canon white-square (for canon EF-S lenses) to indicate where it mounts to the camera.. it's like the white-square on the Canon 18-55mm kit lens. It's not exact, but it's pretty close.. : D
h) the lens caps are just pop on/pop off caps over the front element and the back aperture.. Large fingers may find it difficult to remove the rear lens cap.. You can alternately just get a generic rear canon lens cover and use that, which is what I'm doing, but it adds an extra 1/2 inch of length to the stored lens.
Alright. I've run out of stuff to talk about.. Check out my pretty pictures that go along with this for a lovely visual hop and skip down Holga lens lane.
Pretty much, this lens is a lot of fun, but you need to realize it needs a lot of light (just go outside and you'll be fine!) and high ISO, and you need to get a grasp on the poorly described focusing distances.. Once you understand those two things, you'll have a lot of fun! Without those two things, you might get a bit frustrated. Probably more because of the light requirements..
But right. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your friends! It's totally worth it! : D Just tell your friends to go outside in the daylight, toooO!