As you may have noticed from our Blog and recent media attention there has been a lot of interest in the recent release of the Digital Holga lenses. We get asked a lot about these products from our customers to the HolgaDirect Store. In addition we are quite often contacted by customers who have purchased one or more of the Digital Holga lenses with advice about how to get the best out of them. On the back of this we have decided to produce a series of articles describing the lenses and provide advice and tips on how to use them. This article is the first in this series and covers the ‘Close Up’ Lens Set (CLS-1) and ‘Macro’ Lens Set (MLS-1). The piece was written by one of our favourite Digital Holga Photographer’s Chris Nitz who has produced some great images using the Digital Holga lenses. Please do check out Chris’ website HERE. Anyway, on to the article!
Getting the Most of Your Holga Close-up and Macro Kits
I love my Holga HL-N lens, so much so that I have no reservations in telling people how much fun it is to shoot with. However, I tend to do a lot more close-up and macro work, and so the 60mm default setting is a bit wide at times. Enter the Close-up Kit. This great little accessory contains two macro adapters and three telephoto adapters, all which quickly and easily pop onto the front of your Holga lens. Yet, how do you get the most from this setup? Well, it is easier than you think!
1. Know your expectations. Holga invokes many photographic thoughts, but toy photography is the most common. Just like the film based cameras, the digital lenses and accessories are all made from plastic. This maybe a cheap way to go, but it adds in a lot of character to photos. Before you head out with your Holga kit of choice, know what your expectations of the day are. If you are looking for super sharp macro shots of flowers, this is not the ideal setup to take. However, if you’re looking for imperfections, a lot of character, and a few surprises along the way, this is needs to be on your camera when you walk out the door.
Now I’m not one for missing “the shot”, and I like variety. So while I know what kind of results the Holga will provide me, I also take a backup lens as a “just in case” solution. Yes this means I’m lugging around more gear, but it affords me sharp photos when I want them, and the freedom of retro looking shots when I want those. Know your expectations before you head out, and have fun doing that which you enjoy!
2. Understand the working distances of all the adapters. This trick will save you time and headache while out in the field, but you should take some time to learn the working distances of the close-up kit. First on the list are the macro adapters. Do keep in mind, these adapters are great for things that don’t get scared, or will kill you with a bite in self-defense. The macro setup requires that you get extremely close and personal with your subject. The ML-30 will require you be within half an inch of your subject, while the ML-60 will give you about an inch of working distance. Actual distances will vary depending where you want the focal point, but this gives you an idea of just how close you have to have the front of the camera to your subject. It also means you have to be creative with lighting solutions.
Next we have the close-up adapters. Essentially, these cut the normal working distance of the standard Holga lens, which by default is roughly three feet from the front of the lens to your subject. The CL-120 will work about six inches, the CL-250 about 18 inches, and the CL 500 about 36 inches. Think of these as more of a telephoto setup, so you get more compression with this kit while reducing the amount of space among you and your subject.
There is one caveat to this distance game, and that is your camera. I shoot on a Nikon D90, which has a sensor with a crop factor of 1.6. This means my camera will add a 1.6 magnification to any lens I put on it. For example, a 35mm prime lens on my D90 will equate to about a 56mm lens. If you have a full-frame camera like the D700 or 5D MkII, you will have different focal lengths than what I listed. If you own a micro four-thirds camera, your will have an even greater magnification than what I did (usually about 2x magnification in these). So, make sure you try these adapters long before you get out in the field and start taking photos for clients, or yourself, as it will aid you in knowing your expectations of your gear.
3. Prepare for the unexpected. The fun thing about the Holga equipment is that you never know what to expect, as every lens behaves differently. Mine, for example, produces heavy vignetting on the left side. I have seen friends who do not have this issue, but rather end up with some nice vignetting all over the final frame. It is fun to sit and compare the “personalities” of these lenses!
However, this close-up kit will sometimes enhance, or detract, those unique feature, all while adding in new quirks to the final image. For example, the macro kit does away with my vignette on the left side, yet it adds in some crazy vignetting on the upper corners. I have also found the close-up adapters add in a bit more noise to my shots, but create little to no vignette. My experience may not be your experience, but that is part of the enjoyment of this kit. Take the time to learn the quirks of your gear, and then utilize them to make your shots explode with creativity.
4. Just have fun with it. The most important factor of all of this is to have fun with it. Challenge your creativity by taking a “normal” shot with this lens and its adapters. Everything from portraits to landscapes can change drastically. I have taken photos of toys, food, and people, and this setup never ceases to impress me with all the new ways it helps me see the world. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.
5. The ever asked for “what is your setup” question. So just how do I setup my camera to help add just a bit more to this kit? When I switch to my Holga gear, I will instantly go in and crank the ISO up to a minimum of 800, and sometimes going even higher. This adds in a nice amount of noise, thus aiding in the imperfections of the final shot. I also set my camera to shoot Vivid photos to aid in a more saturated look. Finally, I almost always use a tripod as this allows me to easily swap between the Holga lens and a more “traditional” lens if the situation calls for it.
The Holga Close-up kit is a steal for all the extra options it gives you. I continue to enjoy using this kit, and it is one that is always in my camera bag. If you like getting close and personal to your subject, yet want to add in some new effects to tired old photos, then this is the lens combination you want! Have fun, and happy shooting!
Thanks to Chris Nitz for the above article
If you are interested in the Close-Up and Macro lenses then there are a few options for purchase. If you already have a Digital Holga lens that you can buy a ‘Close Up and Macro Kit‘ which combines both lenses or if you don’t yet have a Digital Holga lens you could purchase the Digital Holga Starter Kit – Close Up and Macro. Alternatively if you wanted the greatest flexibility you could check out our ‘Kitchen Sink Kit‘ which combines the Close Up and Macro lenses together with a Wide and Tele lens combination on top of a Base Digital Holga lens.
Are you interested in writing an article for HolgaDirect? Please contact us and we can discuss any ideas you might have. We’ll happily provide full credit to your own work and images and link to your own website or blog. Anyway, if you have any questions about any of the products or anything else please feel free to contact us with our contact form HERE
The HolgaDirect Team
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