Digital Holga





Introduction: Digital Holga

About: I'm a full stack web developer focusing on security and privacy.

Lomography and Toy Cameras are fun cameras to play with, yet most of these cameras use film so you can't see your finished product right away and you might end up spending a bunch on film and processing. The Holga is one of the more popular versions of this camera, and at such a cheap price it's easy to see why people would gravitate towards such a camera.

This instructable will show you how to make a simple holga lens for your digital camera so you can share in the toy camera awesomeness.

UPDATE: After doing some research about to better achieve that "athentic" effect, i found this flickr photo set: Digital Holga With Light Leaks I would like to implement these changes in the future.

UPDATE 2: I have added an extra step to get better pictures

Step 1: Supplies

You will need the following:
- A DSLR camera (I'm assuming if you want to do this, you already have one)
- Holga Camera ($30 on amazon)
- Body cap for your DSLR ($1 on ebay)
- Drill w/ 5/16" drill bit
- Screw Driver
- Hot Glue Gun

Step 2: Open Up the Holga

First step is to open up the holga and locate the screws (See Photo For Screw Locations). Once you find the screws, unscrew them and the first part of the lens will fall off.

There will be two yellow wires, just clip or pull those out to get the lens part off

Step 3: Removing the Shutter

Next you want to remove the shutter assembly, again there will be 2 screws. unscrew them and the shutter will fall off.

Step 4: Removing the Lens

Lastly to free to lens, you want to unscrew it from the square piece.just turn the lens counterclockwise, till you hear a click. It should then screw right off and you have your holga lens.

Step 5: Drilling the Body Cap

Next you want to drill the body cap. Try to center it to the best of your ability.

Step 6: Gluing the Lens to the Cap

Lastly you want to use a bit of hot glue to glue the lens to the body cap. The lens should line up with the hole for it to work right.

Step 7: UPDATE Moving the Lens Closer

I found that the original placement of the lens was too far away to get good enough pictures so the following pictures show you how to move the lens more forward.

I basically removed the plastic lens from the holga by prying up on the melted points. See the first picture for the points that should be picked at with a screwdriver

Then i hot glued the lens directly to the body cap, then glued on the rest of the holga lens to complete the look.

This method makes taking pictures that are farther away much easier. The last picture is an example.

Step 8: Shooting and Final Thoughts

Now it's time to take it out and try it out. The lens works pretty well, yet the focus point is about 2 feet from me, so it's hard to get good pictures.

It is wonky like a standard toy camera, but this project was pretty easy for the effect. I could see this lens doing well fro portraits, but not so well for landscapes. To operate the camera it has to be in manual mode. I can old control the speed of course.

After getting the lens closer, the pictures seem to be a lot more clear. The next step to this project would be to introduce some vignetting

Hope you enjoyed this instructable!



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    25 Discussions

    The lens mod is easy enough to follow but what you do with it when it is done is as clear as mud. It would help if you had shown how the lens is utilised.

    1 reply

    To utilize the final product, attach the body cap to an SLR camera, in this Instructable a digital one is suggested. If you're not that experienced in photography, an SLR is a single-lens-reflex camera.
    The pictures show how the lens is utilized through the photos it produces (the blurrier ones are from an earlier product).

    Awwww, i thought you were going to show how to put the insides of a digital point and shoot on the Holga to take digital pictures in style.. That i would do =D

    Sorry if I ask a dumb question but what is the difference exactly between a normal camera photo and the holga?I mean what does it do exactly?

    1 reply

    HUGE difference! You'd have to be a photographer to really enjoy what comes out of using a Holga or Diana.
    I'd say the main difference is that a regular camera (if we're talking about film cameras) creates sharp images, whereas a Holga blurs (vignettes) the edges and gives the picture a soft, dreamlike feel to it. This is caused by a combination of light leaking into the cameras seams, the heat affecting the chemicals on the film, and the plastic lens being unable to create as sharp of an image as a glass lens would.

    While this is cool, - I'm all for using retro lenses on new bodies - I think you're missing the point. The Holga gave such ridiculously cool results because of several factors, not just the lens. One, it's film, which is inherently unpredictable and delicate, so heat or cold will affect your image. Two, the Holga is cheap. It's made of plastic, which is easily broken or warped, thus letting light and dust into the body. You could try and emulate that with your carbon-fiber DSLR body, but I don't recommend it. Really, I wouldn't call this a total digital Holga conversion, you have the aberrations and imperfections that the cheap lens produces, but without the light leaks and effects of temperature and atmosphere, I'd have to file this one under a simple lens hack.

    1 reply

    I am showing how one would put a holga lens on their DSLR, and then in the last panel giving my analysis.

    Of course it's not as "awesome" as a real holga, but if anyone has the desire to now put a plastic lens on their camera, this is one method. I would love for this instructable to start up a wave of lens mods.

    Please if you have a better method of doing this, post it up and put a comment to that instructable here!

    Hi, after I read the commentarty aimed at mine, I looked up HOLGA/LOMO and the like. Now that I have read up on it, I undertand. I do not understand why I would want to emulate a camera barely better then a brownie box camera, to try to emulate a crappy picture, better to buy a good photo editing software program and learn to play and superimpose double expose and all that. What would be way cooler is to adapt this technology for a cheapo digital camera, or your cell phone camera if you have one. There are now serious tonnages of old slr cameras begging for purchasers for 5 dollars at garbage sales. Imagine that silly 10 dollar digital throw away camera, hog tied to a huge telephoto. silly, pointless, sure, but you will get weird blurs light leaks and all the out of focusness that People of th USSR had to put up with, they couldn't wait for real cameras from USA , Germany , Japan, Great Britian, ANYPLACE but USSR which was a guarantee of crappyness. Why an Austrian company bought them is beyond comprehension. I will try this with a throw away after next garbage sale purchase. thanks for a great post and thanks to those that explained to me what I was unsure about!! I enjoyed this.

    Hi I am confused. Is this project telling me to gut an old 35 mm camera and glue a tiny 10 dollar digital camera behind the lens? Sounds cool, but is that what it says to do. At no point does one see the digital camera, needs a few more pics. I do understand that you are getting a "macro" camera only and that is quite fine, I am just not sure what the point of this is. I have been thinking of doing something like this for a while and so any help is appreciated. thanks

    2 replies

    Yeah... He's actually removing the lens from a 120 camera, and you can see the Nikon he mounts it to, right here on the last step. And he also specifically mentions a DSLR to mount the lens to.

    I appologise for my density. What is the point, the Digital SLR will have a macro setting? Or does this make closer clearer, or even a wider angle? Cooler would be a unit that went on your cell phone and made it clearer or telephoto, (really just a multiplier like a barlow) BTW for me, the pic of the Nikon just made itr worse, cause I could nonderstand why one would do what he does. I thought he was mounting it to a cheapo 10 dollar camera to get a cool effect. Thanks polymeme for responding cause I was lost at sea. I still can't fathom why, but, it matters not. sparkie

    for those Android phone users out there, I just downloaded a great free app called "Retro Camera" which takes photos using psuedo retro cameras - Barbl, Little Orange Box (?), Xolaroid 2000, and Pinhole. I think the Barbl is supposed to be like a Leica or Holga or something. each has editable parameters and each camera's finished photos look like the actuals would in format (square, w tattered aged edges, classic Polaroid tinted and w dust specks, and the pinhole has the photo across the entire piece of film including the slots for the film winder) pretty neat, very fun, and totally nostalgic. my droid has a GREAT camera, so these piocs are usually keepers.

    1 reply

    The Lumix LX3 has a pin hole mode which is fun, though on occasion I've taken a photo in that mode only to end up wishing I had it without the vignette and desaturation.

    What about light leaks? I suppose you could drill some holes in your fancy digital camera to get the light leaks.

    The part that attaches to the body of the Holga... You should have cut off the threaded part and glued that to the drilled lens cap rather than the lens housing itself. Then you could still have the ability to focus.

    great tutorial. i tried this a few years ago and had the same issue with the lens/sensor distance.

    If you cut the hole in the body cap larger, and trim the edge of the "lens" from the Holga, you should be able to get the lens to mount closer to the focal plane. If you cut a large enough hole and got some plumbing supplies you might be able to make a focusing mechanism that would give you more options. great idea, I like what you've done with it.

    2 replies

    This is a good comment. It makes sense, like you actually read the instructable and understood things, not like you just glanced at it then commented getting the details wrong. It leaves viewers with an opening to go out and try this but with your suggested modifications and maybe improve on an interesting idea. I might just go out and work on this one.