Saturday, August 04, 2007

My Holga swings...

Lens swapping. You like the softness of the Diana, but you also like the vignette on the Holga. What to do? Mix and match, baby. I've already swapped the lens mounts between my Banner (Diana clone) and my Holga, but didn't really care for the results. The barrels are different lengths and shapes, and the focal length is too difficult to control. This time around I decided to swap the actual lenses, leaving the original barrels. Successful? Not particularly, but it was mostly an exercise for information. I didn't even make much of an attempt to be creative, in case it was a total bomb. Just went out in the desert and took some shots.
The first task was to take both cameras apart and remove the lenses. My Banner is already in pieces, as I've used the lens in my Fujipet (very successful endeavor, actually). The Banner lens has a larger diameter than the Fujipet, and the Holga as it turns out. I had sanded it down to fit the Pet and it ended up fitting the Holga mount perfectly. So...job done. I just needed to take my Holga apart. There are a few good sites that show you how to do this, so I'll just do the simplified version. First you need to get the front of the camera off. This is done by removing two screws from the inside. The top screw on mine was striped (it is just cheap plastic), but it came out easy and still holds.

The front just falls off. If you have a flash, you don't want to cut those wires. Also, the shutter button just falls out, but it's easy to drop back in place. There is one screw on the back of the mount that holds the barrel in place. Remove it and the barrel unscrews from the shutter mount.

The barrel has a few parts. The plastic back is glued in place...I just used a knife to cut it out. Then there is a piece that holds the lens in place that has the aperture, the lens, and two washers that go in front of the lens. The aperture has a small plastic ring to make it smaller. I removed this. Just because. I think this increases the aperture from f8 to about f6.

Here we see the difference between the Holga lens and the Banner lens.

The Holga lens is a bubble, while the Banner lens is flatter. Now, the interesting thing about the Banner lens is that it is different than a true Diana lens, which is also shaped more like a bubble. I'm not sure why this is different, when the focal lengths of Diana and all of her clones should be the same. It would be interesting to swap a Banner and Diana lens sometime, or use a true Diana lens in a Holga. But I'm not yet willing to pull apart one of my true Dianas. I can't quite chance destroying something that could be sold on Ebay for $65. The Banners only cost me around $15. Maybe someday I'll find a broken Diana I can disassemble.
So both cameras are apart and all I need to do is switch the lenses and put them back together. And shoot.

I used black and white film in the Holga (my last roll, believe it or not). Went out in the desert and blew through the roll. The results were...interesting. I had an idea of what to expect from putting the lens in my Fujipet. I knew it would be very soft. I wasn't expecting the big fuzzy spiral in the center.

It also creates a very wide angle shot. I was very close to those bottle and they look much farther away. So this didn't turn out too bad. Maybe if I flip the lens it will bring the center in focus and blur the edges. The closer I focus, the larger the blur was, so the focal length must be shorter in the Banner. Flipping the lens and keeping the focus to maximum distance (so it's closest to the film plane) may help.

Next up is the Banner with the Holga lens. I used color film, and this is my fifth roll trhough the expired color Nova developer. The lens is slightly smaller, so I used some rubber cement to hold it in place. It wasn't quite centered, so there is a darker side on every shot. And that other problem...

Blurry! Outta focus. Waaaay outta focus. You would think that, because the Holga was able to mostly handle the Banner lens that the same would be true in reverse. Guess not. I knew this was the main hurdle to overcome when swapping lenses (the Fujipet and Banner must have the exact same focal length). I'm just not sure how to fix this with the Banner. I assume that the lens is too close to the film plane. But every shot looks the same no matter how I focused. If I can build something that holds the lens a bit further from the barrel it might work. But I'm not sure if it is worth it. The Holga vignette is gone. Will I just get a sharper Diana shot? When I do this kind of stuff, I want better, or at least different. I want the additive effect of multiple camera characteristics, or something completely new (and not crappy in a bad way). Hmmm...
So, this begs another question. How much is a result of the camera, and how much is a result of the lens? I think it depends on the camera and the lens. With the Holga, it seems to mostly be the camera. The vignette is the camera. Even the image doubling on the lower right corner is the camera (thought for sure that was a lens effect). With the Diana, I think it is mostly the lens. Other than the shape of the frame and the overall build of the camera, the lens seems to control the magic (the blur). The Diana with a better lens is just camera.
So what's the next step? I'll have to think about that. Ouch! Thinking hurts.


  1. where can you find a banner camera? i cant find them anywhere.

  2. ebay is your best bet. that's where i got bot of mine.

  3. Anonymous12:55 PM

    I just took the lens barrel off of my Holga because of a mishap and I accidentaly broke that thingy that sticks up out of the cavity inside that is in your 3rd pic. Did I just break my camera or is it fixable. Also, how do I get the barrel back on. Thanks.

  4. well, you can still use the camera, but the lens will just screw all the way off if you keep twisting it. all that piece does is keep the lens from unscrewing all the way. to put it back, just screw it back on! i have a couple cheap chinese cameras like this... doesn't affect anything other than the ability to lose the lens.

  5. Anonymous1:23 PM

    Thanks. I think i'm going to glue that thing back on just to keep the barrel from coming off.

  6. that looks like arizona, and where did that skull come from?

  7. that is arizona, and the skull is from walgreen's!