Holga HL-N on Digital Nikon D700 — Part Two of the HL-N Test

So, as you can see I went out and did a little more exploring with the Holga HL-N. The impetus was finally getting my Nikon D700 back from the repair shop. As you may notice in each of these shots the vignetting of the Version 2 HL-N on a full frame sensor is much more pronounced than on the crop sensor D300.
Here are a few of the things I’ve learned that might help you get the most out of your copy.


Overexpose the shot by a stop or two on your D700 and then pull it back in post. Some vignetting is good, but underexposure will lead to excessive vignetting and also a strange pattern as you see in test III. That comes from the way the hole that lets in let is constructed on the HL-N. If you look at the rear of the lens you’ll see that around the larger center hole are several smaller perforations. This, I’m assuming increases the vignetting affect for 35mm and cropped sensors and solves some of the early complaints regarding the lack of Holganess of the Version 1 model.

Another thing: if you are shooting with a current generation body with live view you can actually compose with much less squinting. You see, in live view, you can avoid the incredible darkness of the viewfinder and actually focus in something approaching daylight. Of course most of us like composing through the viewfinder, but it’s a good option for when the situation just doesn’t let that happen.

Also, don’t expect your lens to actually be at f/8. From what I can tell I’m shooting primarily and f/13 lens. With my regular 120 Holga I can slap in some 400 speed film and all is well. When I’m shooting the HL-N I lock the ISO in at 800 and call it good.
So, anyway, get out there and shoot. The potential for some great results is out there and while it takes a little learning to really use the lens along with all of its quirks I think the results are worth it.


About ryanmlong

Long is a working professional writer and photographer since he graduated from Michigan State University. He cut his teeth at the Wrangell Sentinel and before long started his own photography business specializing in shooting sports. Today he specializes in wedding and portrait photography but still gets up to his old habit of heading out for a morning of nature and landscape shooting. Long also works as a freelance writer, primarily for Demand Media Studios.
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5 Responses to Holga HL-N on Digital Nikon D700 — Part Two of the HL-N Test

  1. Rick says:

    That’s another Great article Ryan. Happy to see you are getting some interesting results and your experiments will certainly help others to get the best out of these lenses!

    Best Regards
    Rick @ HolgaDirect

    • ryanmlong says:

      I hope so. It’s a fun little lens and something I will likely start throwing into the mix to shake things up a little at events and potentially weddings (hesitant tone inferred here). I just happened to stumble on using live-view for focusing with this lens and think it’d be key to alleviating complaints about the relative challenge of shooting through a lens at f/8 and the essential darkness thereof.

      Keep up the good work over at Holga Direct! Great service all the way from Hong Kong.

      • Rick says:

        Cool! That live-view tip is an Awesome one! That’s probably the most common ‘concern’ I have seen about these lenses so far. I don’t know why we didn’t think of that straightforward solution before…

        Thanks for your feedback, much appreciated.

        Best Regards
        Rick @ HolgaDirect

      • ryanmlong says:

        Hey, no problem, I’m glad to help. I’m kind of kicking myself that I didn’t order the wide angle adapter at the same time. Really, the only downside is the shipping time. But oh well, I’m sure you folks will keep coming out with interesting surprises and I’ll be able to do a bundle order sometime in the near future.

  2. MiGRodz says:

    Excellent work with that lens. I just ordered mine from Ebay, chose the red one…..I am also planning on drilling the aperture on mine and try to approximate an F5.6 aperture on it…..

    thanks for posting your results..


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