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Holga Lens HLW-OP Review

Holga HLW-OP Lens for Olympus PEN Micro Four Thirds Cameras reviewed.

|  Holga HLW-OP Lens in Interchangeable Lenses
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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.

Holga Lens HLW-OP rear view Holga Lens HLW-OP rear view detail
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.

Holga Lens HLW-OP

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.

Fern taken using Holga HLW-OP lens Poppies and shed taken using Holga HLW-OP lens
Road sign taken using Holga HLW-OP lens Canal steps taken using Holga HLW-OP lens
Poppies taken using Holga HLW-OP lens canal ladder taken using Holga HLW-OP lens
Swan taken using Holga HLW-OP lens Wind turbine taken using Holga HLW-OP lens

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
Low cost

Holga Lens HLW-OP: Cons

Cheap construction
Fixed aperture
Stiff to focus



The Holga Lens HLW-OP is available from HolgaDirect for $24.99
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User_Removed 18 17.9k 8 Norway
6 Jul 2011 7:05PM

Quote:Holga Lens HLW-OP: Cons
Cheap construction
Fixed aperture
Stiff to focus


** THUD **
davidburleson 15 3.0k 3 United Kingdom
7 Jul 2011 9:36AM
Looks cool if you know what your doing
alan53 14 United Kingdom
12 Jul 2011 9:07AM
Mount a bit loose? I bought this lensí cousin, the pinhole lens for Pen mount. Itís so loose it rattles. Itís so loose Iím worried about dust getting in between the body and lens mounts. Itís so loose you could force in a shim on one side to turn it into a tilt lens.
1948custom 14 6 United Kingdom
14 Jul 2011 5:17PM
What is the price of it in the Uk ?

Might be a bargin if you can live with the faults !
Paul Morgan 21 19.6k 6 England
15 Jul 2011 12:25AM
Its as cheap as tricks, twenty quid or less, not bad value really.
2 Sep 2011 8:43AM
Anyone have a £1 note? I've got £10 and £5 notes, but alas without the £1 note I can't burn £16. What a waste of beer money Tongue
Hi, i have bought this HOLGA lens pack for my Samsung NX100 but can't take any picture. When i press the button to shot it says "check lens" any idea of what i should do in order to use them correctly? Any suggestions?
ChiliMan 16 135 17 Singapore
12 Aug 2013 11:01AM

Quote:Hi, i have bought this HOLGA lens pack for my Samsung NX100 but can't take any picture. When i press the button to shot it says "check lens" any idea of what i should do in order to use them correctly? Any suggestions?

Try switching the cam to Manual Focus mode. I don't know what the NX100 is like but there should be something like that. You basically want no electrical communication between the lens and the camera. This is just off the top of my head. Hope it helps.


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