Holga Wide and Tele Lenses, Part II

Time to get down and dirty, eh? As I wrote yesterday I ran two rolls through the Holga with the new lenses to get a feel for the images they produce. I did some shots just switching the lenses, and then a couple of shots varying the focus. Let’s have a look at the former. It’s wide lens left, normal Holga lens in the middle, and the tele on the right. I’ll spare you the technical details, since there aren’t many. See for yourself. I’ll venture some guesses at why I think the results are as they are. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Holga, Wide and Tele

Excuse the awful colors, it’s my stupid scanner’s software. I’m not at all happy with how it tries to automatically balance the colors. Even turning off all the available options didn’t help. Sucks. It also makes it a bit hard to tell if and how much light the lenses block from getting inside the camera. Usually these attachments reduce the light, but I guess I’ll retry with black and white film, where my scanner won’t screw up.

Holga, Wide and Tele

As you can see, the tele lens vignettes insanely. I even dare say that it creates round pictures, which nicely confuses scanner software, while we’re on that topic. There’s also a pretty weird distortion on the lower edges. But most of what’s visible seems to be without blur. Seems reasonable since the blur usually is on the outer side of the picture, hidden here by the vignette. The odd distortion seems to be the only visible sign of the normal blur, but in this case increased by the lens and its loupe-ishness. Most of the picture looks in focus. Let me crop that for you.


It does however do a nice job of being a tele lens. Comes in handy when you need that extra bit to zoom in. Obviously depending on the distance to the object it makes it a bit harder to guess what’ll be in the picture, but hey, it’s a Holga.

The same is true for the wide lens, it distorts quite nicely on the edges, but even more noticeable is the barrel distortion. When you look at the lens you’ll notice the convex lens causing it. Not really a surprise, being a really cheap wide lens. It also gets a lot of blur on the outer edges of the photo. Looking closely there’s not much that really looks in focus here, seems to be just the center.


Now, for the focus tests, I’m not sure if it’s worth it putting up the photos here. I put another Holga about a meter away from the one I shot with, dialed through the four different focus zones and fired away. The manual for both lenses suggests to put the focus on infinity. Which I did for all the shots above. The most important thing to know when you’re deciding against it is that there’ll be even less light coming in, and the vignette will be even more noticeable. That’s especially true for the wide lens.

The wide lens really is wide. I consider the normal Holga lens to be quite wide already, but this definitely adds a nice 0.5 factor. However I’m not too fond of the barrel distortion and that fact that nothing is in focus. But then again, it’s Holga. I’m not mad at the lenses, they’re fun in their own right. Considering what they cost you can’t ask for more, but also not for less, they are just right.

Holga, Wide and Tele

I’ll repeat the experiments with the focus, especially with the tele lens, it was hard to tell what was in focus at all when doing a “close-up” shot of an object only one meter away. More on that next week then. I’ll be sure to use a tripod too, because this round wasn’t exactly a professional endeavor.

The lenses look like neat new toys, but obviously they don’t come without new caveats. It wouldn’t be Holga if they wouldn’t. They do however come with pouches with a big Holga logo on it. I found those to be rather cumbersome though, because it’s not easy to fiddle out the lenses. You do want to keep on the lens caps though, because the outer lens element has quite a big surface and at least looks a bit delicate. But I’ll leave it up to you to try out how scratching it affects the pictures.

The crazy vignette on the tele lens is almost too much for my taste. I do like a good vignette, but in this case it’s too round. Maybe it’d work better with black and white, we’ll see about that. Get them if you feel like playing, and if you don’t, get them anyway. They’re a nice accessory, and sure come in handy from time to time. Do keep in mind though that they take away some of the Holga’s constraints by adding features. For some people, the constraints is what it’s all about. That includes me, but I also like playing from time to time.


2 thoughts on “Holga Wide and Tele Lenses, Part II

  1. Thanks for the review! Very informative.I´m thinking of buying them here in Argentina but i´m a bit put off by the fact that they cost double the price. Just my 2 cents: maybe the crazy vignetting of the tele lens would be more pleasant in the 6×4,5 format and more useful for portrait shots where you would want to increase blur/distortion in the surrounding background.

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