Holga 120 CFN

Accessories: Holga Lens Filters

Macro snail. Holga 120 CFN with macro filter and Fomapan Creative 200 film

Macro snail. Holga 120 CFN with macro filter and Fomapan Creative 200 film

The Holga is a sturdy brick of cast plastic. It doesn’t do interchangeable lenses, you’re stuck with the plastic lens it came with. That lens is beautiful, so why look for anything else? But every now and then it would be nice to get a bit closer with the Holga. A beautiful flower in close-up, a distant mountain a bit nearer. For these situations there are accessories for sale.

In my collection I have a set of close-up filters, a few macro filters, and a telephoto lens. Thus, my Holga is fit for all situations. In theory, that is. Those filters and lens are nice to play with, but it takes a lot of practice to actually get good pictures.

The telelens, for example, brings the image 1.5 times closer. The thing consists of a plastic case with dito lens that slides over the Holga´s lens. Make sure the camera is in the infinity (mountain) setting. A side effect of the telelens is extreme circular vignetting. It does have a certain something, but you should keep in mind that not everything you see through the viewfinder will be in the actual photo. More than ususally, make sure that the subject you want in focus is in the middle of the image.

The close-up and macro filters give a strong vignetting as well, but less than the telelens. They are much flatter filters, that you put on the front the lens (again with the camera on infinity). I am most fond of the close-up variations, which allows you to make photos at 50 cm, 25 cm and 12 cm, distance. Especially when using the smaller distances you should not depend too much on the viewfinder, because the lens is of course a few centimeters lower.

The macro filters allow a distance to your subject of 6 or 3 cm. In theory, these make for great extreme close-ups, but there are a few points of concern.

For example, at this distance – even more than when using the close-up filters – the viewfinder is completely useless. You will just have to look over the top of your camera and aim the lens at your subject. This takes some practice, and I have several pictures with just a bit of subject matter at the bottom of the picture to prove it.

Also, if you are this close to your subject, mind that it is not too dark. You can quickly block the light with your camera. You allready have an extra layer of plastic in front of the lens blocking light, so be sure to have enough iso, an extra lamp, or use the flash.

It is important for all filters to use the correct focus distance, because the depth of field is narrow. A measuring tape or ruler will probably come in handy. Or choose a subject with enough depth so that there is always something in focus.

I ♥ Holga

Holga 120 CFN shot with a Praktica MTL3 and Kodak Ektachrome E200 film.

Holga 120 CFN shot with a Praktica MTL3 and Kodak Ektachrome E200 film.

For a long time, I doubted wether I shoud buy a Holga. I liked the pictures made with a Holga and the camera is pretty cheap, but did I really need another camera? And when I actually saw one in a photo shop (as opposed to on a stand alone picture in a web shop), it looked very big and clumsy to me. But in the end I succumbed. I bought the gorgeous plastic box camera that is now known among my friends as the big green monster.

It’s a simple beast. I have the CFN-version, with plastic lens and coloured flash (white, red, yellow and blue). In theory, has two apertures, cloudy and sunny. Due to a construction error, it only has the larger aperture (f13), flipping the aperture switch has no effect. Shutter time is either 1/100s of B. Included with the camera are two masks, either to fit 12 pictures on a standard 120 roll, of 16.

It took a bit of getting used to at first. The sponges that kept the film tight in the camera were immediately eaten by the first film I shot. Film is now being helt tight by some random bits of cardboard. Soon afterwards I found out that red-scale at a dark party was not a good choice in the Holga. Or any kind of low iso film in moderately dark situations. And when it is light enough, stubborn light leaks make covering the edges of the camera with black tape necessary.

But soon enough, I got used to the peculiarities of my new treasure and my Holga became absolutely indispensable. For one thing, you can pull all the ususal Lomography tricks with the Holga: double exposures, microclicks, panoramas, colored flash, it’s all fun. But the real power of the Holga is in the fantastic plastic lens. A flashy party picture with different color layers is great, but my favorite Holga pictures are regular single pictures, with their unique dreamy appearance that no Instagram filter can equal.

It´s a great holiday camera, too: not only produces it great pictures, it’s also sturdy enough to be tossed about in a backpack, and the cheap plastic look doesn’t attract thieves.

The best spent 69 euros from 2012.