The Holga lens HLW-OP is a plastic lens with a 25mm focal length for the Olympus Pen series camera. Versions are also made for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Panasonic cameras to give Holga style results on your designated camera.
Holga Lens HLW-OP: Features
- Focal Length: 25mm
- Aperture range: Fixed f/8
- Focus mode: Manual Zone Focus
- Lens type: Plastic
- Dimensions: 38x57mm
- Weight: 38g
Being plastic, the HLW-OP Holga lens is really light weight. It certainly feels like it belongs on a vintage toy camera - which seem to be one of the appeals of this latest fad in photography. There's a fixed f/8 aperture so you're limited on exposure control (perhaps the next version could have a sunny/cloudy setting!) And the focal length is indicated to be 25mm which is equivalent to 50mm on the Pen camera.
The aperture is surrounded by eight smaller holes that are no doubt added to give the Holga look to out of focus parts. It has an accessory rim on the front to hold a range of add-ons to increase the Holga effect.
The bayonet mount is plastic and is a bit lose when it is on the camera, but at least it doesn't grind away when you rotate it in.
The rear view of the Holga Lens HLW-OP with a close up of the unusual lens aperture.
Holga Lens HLW-OP: Performance
I don't like the focusing control - it's really crude as a result of the plastic construction. It reminds me of adjusting an old Halina 35x which was a dreadful camera to use (no doubt now quite fashionable).
The adjustment is on a single helicoid style screw and I'm sure it could have been made a little loser. You feel as though you're going to wrench it off as you turn, especially as it's tighter at the extremes.
With the f/8 aperture the LCD screen is dull, so focusing becomes harder to do with the naked eye. getting sharp focus is, as a result, a bit hit and miss.
The lens is marked as 25mm which would be about 50mm on Pen with its four thirds sensor. I took a photo with this and one with the Olympus 14-42mm and found that the true focal length is closer to 30mm (or 60mm in 35mm terms) That makes it a little restrictive for some kinds of photography where a wider lens is better, such as groups, landscapes and architecture (although wide/telephoto adapters are available).
I took a wide range of shots from close to infinity. Having the heavy vignette made me look at the subject in a different light and I tried things I probably wouldn't have done with a normal lens. Half of the fun is choosing the right subject for the lens, rather than going out with a subject in mind and using the camera as the tool to record it.
Below is a selection of shots taken using the Holga HLW-OP.
You can click on any of the above photos to view the full size version. Notice some weren't as sharp as they could be. This is down to focusing error on my part due to the small aperture and lack of clarity on the EP2 screen. A focus magnifier is needed. When I got it right the centre of the image was sharp, and the vignette suits some subjects really well, and on others looks poor. It's up to you to find the right subject. I did find working with the EP2's Art menu and selecting grainy gave some really interesting results too.
Holga Lens HLW-OP: Verdict
The Holga lens is great fun to use, it's annoyingly crude, but cheap and chearful spring to mind, and the results remind me of the type I got with the old Russian Lomo - sharp in the middle and crude round the edges. This is the appeal of Holga photography and one that is achieved with the cheap Holga 120 film cameras. If this appeals, here's a way to shoot digitally on your existing cameras and no film needed!
Holga Lens HLW-OP: Pros
Holga results from digital
Fun to shoot with
Holga Lens HLW-OP: Cons
Stiff to focus
|VALUE FOR MONEY
The Holga Lens HLW-OP is available from HolgaDirect for $24.99