Holga HL-N for Nikon SLR: I just threw up in my mouth

holga hl-c lens for canon slr.jpg
This is the equivalent of finding a really hot supermodel, then making a pornographic movie with Wally Shawn. Holga HL-N for Nikon SLR [Holga Direct]


  1. For one thing, that’s a picture of a Canon DSLR, not Nikon.

    For another, what’s wrong with playing around with a cheap lens? Just because a camera is expensive and can produce sharp images doesn’t mean that sharp images are inherently better. I’ve taken a lot of out of focus pictures that ended up being pretty great.

  2. I know it’s available for both Nikon and Canon, but don’t you think the picture should match the title?

  3. Also, it’s such a shame to pay all that money for such a great lens only to have it cropped on one of those cheap sub full-frame DSLRs.

    1. Also, it’s such a shame to pay all that money for such a great lens only to have it cropped on one of those cheap sub full-frame DSLRs.

      All that money? It’s 25 bucks.

    2. i dont get your comment? Maybe im missing something but the camera is a 5d2 which i believe is a $2500 full frame camera.

  4. It’s a nice camera. A VERY NICE CAMERA.
    The lens attachment? It’s made to make your pictures LOOK like they were taken with a crappy camera. A VERY CRAPPY CAMERA.

  5. No. It is the equivalent of buying a high-performance computer but running GIMP instead of Photoshop on it because you prefer the toolset.

    An artist is not defined by their tools, but by their art. A high powered camera is only as good as the photos you take with it. You can take very good photos with a holga lens. You can take completely horrible photos with an expensive lens.

  6. So… it’s the greatest accessory ever? Because I’d watch that porno. And hey, we could film it all on our Holga-enabled Nikon DSLR!

  7. Looks neat. You could probably cobble something similar together with a holga, body cap, hacksaw and some glue. But it’s only $25 and a holga itself runs $26. I suppose you are also disapproving of the lensbaby?

  8. Yes, misguided post from Jason. As a long time Toy Camera photography hobbyist (where the Diana and the Holga reign) having effects happen through the lens during the moment of capture, rather than running a photoshop filter is the whole point. This is a great thing. Now, if only we could get legitimate light leaks into a digital image… :)

  9. A porno with Wally Shawn would be AWESOME! Weisberger is crazy. But he’s right about the cheap lens.

  10. The lens is just a tool, and in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, it can make some really nice images.

    Here’s an example: http://www.bobcooleyphoto.com/ssp_director/albums/album-24/lg/bob-cooley-nyc-flatiron.jpg

    Crappy plastic lens on a Nikon D3.

    It’s the carpenter – not the hammer that makes the good house.

    Now, that being said, one of the wonderful qualities of the older Holga and the (original) Diana (not the crappy Lomo version) was the light leaks. It led to some really interesting and truly analog experiences in photography. You won’t get this same experience from putting one of these lenses on a DLSR.

    But in the right hands, you can make some nice images with them:


  11. Which is the super model which is Wally Shawn? (and who is Wally shawn). This rant disguised as a blog post is a mess. Sorry dude I just have no clue what you’re trying to disparage or why.

    1. Wally Shawn is actor and playwright Wallace Shawn. He’s most popularly known for playing Vizzini in The Princess Bride and for writing and starring in My Dinner with Andre. He’s also done quite a number of other similar character roles and written a number of plays. He also played Kathy Ireland’s love interest in the film Mom and Dad Save the World, so the original post doesn’t even win originality points for suggesting combining a supermodel with Wallace Shawn.

      As for which is which in the metaphor, I couldn’t tell you. Wallace Shawn is a clever and deep-thinking actor and playwright but short and bald, so often not thought of as being particularly attractive. Supermodels are attractive but frequently shallow and vapid. So the camera is deep and the lens is shallow? Or the camera is attractive and the lens is short and bald?

      I honestly (and this really isn’t me just being oblique) do not have a clue as to what that metaphor is supposed to mean. It sounds like it’s being critical rather than praising, but I’m not entirely certain of that. And assuming that they are being critical, I’m not sure which object they’re criticizing or what they’re criticizing about it.

  12. Actually there are some really cool, cheap plastic lenses that you can do creative stuff with on an SLR. There are some neat 3D lenses, for instance.

    I took a series of shots with my Canon SLR a few years ago with NO lens: I taped a piece of aluminum foil over the front and poked a pinhole in it.

  13. I like the way holga’s do black and white for some shots but this is a nice way to go if you want to skip the expensive film purchase and developing. I spent >$500 on film and prints for just one 2 week trip. So if you can actually replicate the feel this is totally worth it.

    I actually made one of these for myself a couple years ago. I had trouble getting it close enough to the body to focus to infinity so I didn’t use it much.

    I also recommend a Lensbaby. I have the 2.0 with aperture kit and it is a lot of fun.

  14. Ooops. I think I’ve stumbled into a brier patch of camera snobbery? The only thing worse are those people who freak out over Arial/Helvetica.

    1. I see you’re unfamiliar with audiophiles and the wooden volume knob (or ceramic outlet face plates). I’m not sure anything compares to that mess.

    2. What’s to freak out over Arial? It’s not like you’d use it (now that would be freak out worthy).

      Anyways, it’s a cheap lens and the 5d is a cheap camera. Perfect match :)

    3. davejenk1ns – I was wondering that when I saw the article as well, but from looking at the Holgadirect website, it’s not so much snobbery as parody, kind of like getting a VWBeetle hood for your Rolls-Royce.

  15. Yes, how dare some photographers use an inexpensive specialty lens to get their visual effects. REAL photographers spend a grand for an imported lens that does the same thing. I myself refuse to even look at a mere Polaroid picture– how common. In fact I won’t even go to sleep at night and allow my eyes to peer at my disgusting little flesh-and-blood eyelids, I place gold coins under my eyelids so that my dreams may also be of the purest gold.


  16. Looks like fun and for 25 bucks I ordered one. IF I want light leaks I will have little regret improving it so that it has them.

    The cheap things bring me joy in photography, the $30 set of ebay filters from india, the filters I made myself, a subtle gel kit. They go miles and miles.

    It is so much better to find or craft something cheap than to pay huge bucks and wait and wait for the hot just released lens only to find you just don’t like that new bit of crystal and rarely use it.

  17. I think hes trying to point out its pointless to put this on a thousand dollar+ camera body, when a new holga is worth 25 dollars.

    UNLESS you wanted to hook this up to dragon and make some beautiful holga-like stop-motion, which would be kinda cool. I wish i had a DSLR.

  18. I haven’t weighed in on one of these things in a while, but I just had to. Then I decided I couldn’t be bothered, except to say this.

    Street Photography, it’s a thing.

  19. You seem to have gotten your ass handed to you on a platter here.

    I made a pinhole camera out of a Quaker Oats box back in the early ’80s and one of those photos continues to sell regularly and for a large sum of money.

    1. if you want to take pix that look like they came from a cheap camera, buy a cheap camera. buy ten of them. fifty! make a hundred of them from leftover oatmeal boxes!

      but why buy a $1000 DSLR and make it perform like a $20 drug store disposable ?

      it’s like buying a Ducati Streefighter then putting plastic wheels on it because you really like the way Big Wheels sound.

      1. Because then instead of carrying around a bunch of plastic cameras, film, etc; I can just carry my DSLR which I have anyways, and add a couple of cheap plastic lenses to the smaller pockets for those rare occasions when a crappy lens is a good tool to use.

        The assumption in selling these is that people already own the DSLR, this is just an accessory.

      2. “why buy a $1000 DSLR and make it perform like a $20 drug store disposable ?”

        Because you can, Johnny NoImagination.

      3. It’s another tool which creates a specific effect; it’s not like it’d be a primary lens.

        And I would have left your question at “Why buy a $1000 SLR…”.

  20. Weisbergerem delenda est. :P

    Kidding above, but maybe sex with Wally Shawn is rilly rilly hawwt? The pillow-talk must be incredible! Anyhoo, artists use tools in so many ways, so this seems a strange post to see at BB. . . .

  21. Jason – I bet if you tried real real hard you could come up with an analogy for “something cheep used with something expensive” that didn’t involve sexism or objectifying women. Let’s all try it shall we?

    1. radicalbytes – I bet if you tried real real hard you could come up with an analogy for “something cheep used with something expensive” that didn’t involve artificial sweeteners or animal cruelty. Let’s all try it shall we?

      Or we could try not looking so hard for things to get offended about. I’m game ;-)

  22. Amateur photographer gear snobs are HILARIOUS. “Ewww you CAN’T put THAT lens on THAT camera!!!”

  23. I got it!

    It’s like Barack Obama, the greatest orator of our generation, reading the menu at Denny’s!

    Anyone else?

  24. I used to get irritated by the it-seems-so-hipsterish crappy-fx-accoutrements-for-expensive-camera until I started lugging around multiple cheap cameras, each which only achieved the one awesome effect.

    Instead, I could lug around a more expensive digital camera, and revel in the abstracted luxury of the virtual effects achieved by the one object in my pocket or bag.

    But on the other hand, I also comment in online blogs, so I’m a bit of a technophile, and obviously not a hardware purist, or I’d be typing up my missives on my manual typewrite and thumbtacking them to telephone poles about town, or mailing them to the editor of a (printed, gasp!) newspaper.

    Dear Sirs,

    It has come to my attention that there are certain misguided digital photographerists who persist in obvious whackjobbery &c &c

    Your truly,

  25. Well, isn’t the whole point of Holga photography the trouble you take working with old-school, poorly-manufactured equipment and film?

    There’s a sense of charm and care that comes from knowing that the photo that was taken by a Holga was actually taken by someone who was charmed by the photography, got one of these crap-cameras, and planned their shot knowing the box’s limitations, using actual – well, film.

    The quirkyness of Holga photography comes from its cheapness and its badness accidentally creating awesome, atmospheric art. Anyone with sufficient funds can get a high-end digital camera and attach a lens to it now that makes it take pix like a cheap analog camera …

    Like I said, it kind of misses the point. You know that everything that made Holga photography real is gone. It’s just an affectation now.

    1. Well, that’s a nice lens and all, but it’s no f1.4. Only the purest L glass ever touches my camera. Harumph!

    2. The “Nifty 50” only has a plastic body – the lens elements are glass – some of the Holgas and Dianas lenses are all plastic!

    3. @wrybread – The Canon 50 f/1.8 isn’t a plastic lens; the lens is hiqh-quality optical glass inside of a plastic housing.

      That’s why is inexpensive (comparatively) – but it’s not ‘toy camera’ plastic like the holga, diana, lina-s, etc.

  26. The complaints about this are the same ones that get levelled at LensBaby. But thanks for the snarky post, I just bought one $29 including shipping to the UK and I’m sure I’ll get a few hours of fun out of it alongside my more expensive lenses.

    1. Those who scoff at the LensBaby have quite simply just never used one. They are too fun to scoff at.

  27. I think a more apropos analogy would be:
    “Like putting Barbara Streisand’s nose on Sofia Vergara’s face”.

    Coupling something hideously ugly with something exquisitely beautiful is nothing new (people have been reproducing for like 2 1/2 million years now…), it just seems an odd combination whose product can be easily mimicked in post process. This is something for people who seek attention through accessories and gimmicks. As for the kinds of images this arrangement produces, I am curious.

    1. Streisand’s nose isn’t hideous. She’s just not Barbie. Some people prefer faces with character.

      1. Of course I agree with you, I still think Sandra Bernhard is effing hot! This is simply another exercise in the subjectivity of attraction, mixed with my [particular] need for attention.

    2. If you had said it was like the day Jennifer Gray hacked off that beautiful nose and went from heart breaking stunning to ordinary you might have had me. Babs is a pretty Jewish girl even now, they look blindingly beautiful or maybe normal those that have ’em, but for those of us who love em we are glad they do.

      But the cameras, if someone wanted to get a starter DSLR even if I had to use Canon Hackers Development Kit http://chdk.wikia.com/ to unlock raw and other stuff. What camera is bicycle travel tough but cheap used and still worth buying?

  28. What’s wrong with the GIMP? Maybe you’re thinking of MS Paint.

    Nothing wrong with Wally either, if you ask me.

    As for Arial, it is truly a poor-quality knockoff. Don’t get me started on Comic S…what were we taking about? Cameras?

  29. I’m in favor of putting whatever lens you can onto whatever camera body you have available, then seeing what sort of image you can get. There’s probably a porn metaphor for that, too.

  30. Jason
    Like most of the other comments have eluded
    You don’t know enough about The Holga
    or about Lomography or about experimental photography to have a relevant opinion.

    if you want to learn something
    check this site
    its a very high end camera customizing studio where people
    pay BIG money to have all knids of bizarre lenses mount to all kinds of cameras


  31. You threw up in your mouth, eh?

    If I already owned the phatty camera, and could use this lens to produce results HALF as good as this guy ( http://www.faustinusderaet.com/) produces with an actual Holga, I’d be okay with having a bile-soaked uvula.

  32. oh this is awesome…and ordered.

    i use a $5k DSLR (Canon 1Dmk4) daily and i love non-traditional lenses – late 60’s vintage glass, lensbaby, nikon FD mounts, weird east euro fisheyes as well as my 35/1.4 and my other L lens.

    y’all outraged purists keep only using L or nikkor glass and arguing on the interwebs about it. i’ll keep on getting paying photography jobs.

  33. I hate gear snobs.

    I know someone doing INCREDIBLE work with one of these lenses on her Nikon. She’s almost certainly a better photographer than 99% of you gear snobs, I’d bet any money on it. And you know why? Because she has the open-mindedness to experiment and the authenticity not to take herself so seriously and to disrespect what happens not to be her thing.

    And me… I’d love to experiment with one of these lenses. I don’t care what you gear snobs think, you go shoot cars and birds and leave the rest of us alone.

  34. and it’s not just the lens that makes a holga image, it’s the light leaks. Thats why you are supposed to throw them against a wall before you use them.

  35. The ‘…threw up in my mouth’ meme was always clumsy and an over-reach. It might have had some degree of impact, some value as an enhancement to the art and science of communication the first time it was used. Ever since, it just suggests that the speaker/their observation is not going to be interesting.
    …On second thought if that’s what you’re after, great job.

  36. Definitely would get this if I had a few extra bucks to spare. I’d love to throw it in my bag and break it out every once in a while just to see what I’d get.

    Gear snobbery I hold no truck with. I’m currently professionally using a 5 year old DSLR and one of the regular lenses in my bag is a cheap, refurbished kit lens. It works and it’s effective so why throw it out just cause it’s not an elite piece of gear? And getting a Holga may only cost me $10 but then you factor in film, processing, film scanning, etc. Add that to the bag space it takes up in addition to my regular gear and it’s just not worth it.

  37. “UNLESS you wanted to hook this up to dragon and make some beautiful holga-like stop-motion, which would be kinda cool. I wish i had a DSLR.”

    Considering that a lot of these cameras have rather nice video capabilities, one will be able to make Holga-styled videos. Yes!!!! Ordering mine now!

  38. Ha, I just bought one.

    Ya, I didn’t really understand the issue either. I love film cameras and I have a DSLR so this will be a fun thing to play around with. Anyone have any examples?

  39. Some of the greatest photos of the 20th century were made with very simple equipment- but usually because the photographers were poor as church mice and had no alternatives.

  40. This reminds me of the time I attached a cheap lens to my newly aquired Hasselblad body by way of a Pringles can. (I was still saving up for the lens) The resulting Pringleblad was a thing of Frankensteinian beauty.

    Toy cameras are fun. Don’t let your fun be spoiled just because a handful of hipsters try to share in that fun.

  41. Don’t be elitist tosspots, boingboing. I’d kill to be able to afford an SLR camera, let alone be snobbish about lenses. I’ve still got a bag of 35mm films from my trip around Europe that I’m waiting to develop, and I’ve probably lost most of the photographs to degradation by now in not being able to afford the development yet.

    SUCK IT.

  42. Sounds like good porno to me. Feed into the whole ‘even somebody like you could have somebody like that if you just had enough beer/wine/fancy clothes/fast cars/etc. motif.

    As for the lens, eh. You can take a terrible picture with a nice sharp lens, or a great picture with a foggy, mold eaten lens from the 50’s. Also, sometimes glass breaks, and you need a quick, cheap replacement, and sometimes you find a cheap body, and need something to plug into it. Those who own a DSLR tend, by and large, to have at least a vague idea of what they want. More power to Holga for tending to the cheap, junky glass crowd.

  43. If Jason’s purported plans for Carthage were wrought with the same stubborn inattention to detail that allowed him to misidentify the camera maker in the headline (and then let the error stand uncorrected), I’m surprised he didn’t raze Utica instead.

  44. Pssshhh this is just a toy for those same idiots who buy COLOR cameras and still shoot in black and white.

  45. Wallace Shawn totally deserves to be having sex with supermodels, whether or not it makes for good porn.

  46. Not much irritates me more than when someone takes a photo, then alters it to look old/ damaged/ vintage/ whatever.

    I hate this trend.

  47. Sometimes, I think the BB posters throw one out to test us. I imagine it goes something like this:

    “Our readers,” asks Jason, twiddling with the brass dials of his deep leather armchair, “are they really the kind of people who think it’s cool to hack and be cheap and imaginative, or are they really just a bunch of fashion-followers who agree with anything we put out? Let’s put out a post about how expensive stuff can only be used with expensive stuff, and see if they bite…”

    “Yes, but what?” replies Corey, by semaphore from his lofty perch high above.

    “Well,” Jason replies, “we’ve already done fonts and audio stuff to death, they’d spot the deliberate irony. Mac stuff? No! That’s overdone too. Cameras! There are lots of photographers reading, but they’re used to posts about rights or cool pics…”

    “Hurry! Make flames! I need more hot air for my balloon!”

    And so this post was born.

  48. I’m not a camera snob. Is this bad because it’s a crappy camera, or because it’s a crappy lens?

  49. This is the equivalent of finding a really hot supermodel, then making a pornographic movie with Wally Shawn.

    No, this is the equivalent of taking an overly made-up, anorexic supermodel and having Wallace Shawn write smart dialogue for her so she actually seems interesting.

  50. Funny, I mostly get pro-technology comments when people see me shooting on a RolleiFlex/getting film scanned. I’m always being asked why I don’t shoot digital. Apparently you can’t be a serious photographer without thousands of dollars worth of Hasselblad.

    1. My bro-in-law and I were discussing medium format a few weeks ago. I’m fixing up an old Vigilant Six-20 that I want to play around with and I think he didn’t realize he was unconsciously trying to push me into getting something more like his Mamiya instead with several lenses and native 120 film backs instead of “dealing with” having to re-spool 120 onto 620 rolls. I normally shoot with a DSLR now so if I want to go more technical I will, I just wanted to dink with film cause I haven’t in so long and the Six-20 is nice and simple.

  51. Don’t see the problem with this… So what if you want to spend $25 on an experimental lens for your camera. If you get something you like then Awesome, if you don’t then you lose 25 bucks, no big shakes… I’d feel a lot more frustrated if I spent $1k on a lens and it didn’t perform! I’m buying one!

  52. I had to skim the comments before I understood what you were talking about. How about being a bit more explanatory, for us non-experts.

  53. Although it’s a very nice and expensive setup – photography is an art not a camera. I’ve been into photography for almost 40 years, and experience and the ‘eye’ are more important. I can take better pictures with a point and shoot than a lot of people can with a $2000 set up. Framing, seeing the picture, angles, lighting are what makes a great picture. I still miss the film cameras and have many antique camera in my collection, but I finally broke down about 6 years ago and went digital. Cost was the main reasons – you don’t have to spend money to see if you have a keeper.

  54. The venom you commenters are spewing is far more obnoxious than Jason’s comment about Holga lenses for DSLRs. Christ, what a bunch of assholes.

    Holgas are overpriced, trendy bad lenses. Unlike pringles cans, aluminum foil pinholes, or flea market legacy lenses, they are branded ironic icons. I don’t think Jason is a gear snob, I think he’s reacting to the Holga cancer spreading.

    If I saw someone with a Holga lens on their DSLR I would assume they have poor decision making skills… Unless they ripped the lens off their Holga film version and superglued it to a slr mount. The former is stupid consumerism, the latter a deliberate creative act.

    1. So because it’s not something that you personally like, an almost incredibly cheap aesthetic choice (~$20 for a lens? many pro photographers spend more than that on lens cloths) is “overpriced”, “stupid”, and “poor decision making”? How do you get there from here?

      I’m with you about some fashions being amusing, and even outwardly silly – but I wouldn’t go so far as to call the decision “stupid”, even if someone bought an Apple product.

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