June 21, 2012

Polaroid 300 Camera With Holga Macro Lenses

This is my (poor) attempt at there being something mildly useful if you google “how do I use macro lens holga polaroid fuji” that ISN’T a link on where to buy the camera or the lenses because if you’re googling this, clearly you have the lenses already.

Since this is going to maybe be the first in a series of posts about the various Holga lenses for the Polaroid 300 camera (which has an identical Fuji counterpart and the lenses are actually made for that) I’m going to start off with my Polaroid setup.

Admittedly it’s pretty sweet and I am not worthy of it* seeing as I’m not a professional photographer and I have no idea what I’m doing, hence why I was googling how to use the lenses.

I have: the Polaroid 300 camera, wide lens, tele lens, fisheye lens, 6 lens macro/closeup lens set and a set of different filters I could add, which I haven’t even taken out of the box yet. I believe these are all the lenses you can get for it.

So to start, Polaroid pictures are low quality and instant and distinct and that’s what makes them fun. The lenses, to me, takes Polaroid photos to the next level by making the Polaroid camera do things it wasn’t exactly intended to do. Or at least I think that’s the theory. The downside to them is that Polaroid film is expensive, over $1 per photo, so experimentation isn’t always practical. And unfortunately, with this camera and these lenses, you’re probably not going to get the results you wanted the first time.

On with the show!

This is the first photo I took with the Polaroid camera and as I wrote, I didn’t use any of the lenses and I set it to shady since we were inside and that lets in more light than cloudy or sunny. This photo was taken in my office and in my office there are 2 lamps and a window, it was NOT this dark at all. This is the main thing I think you really need to know about Polaroid or at least this camera in particular: you need a LOT of light, as much light as possible. Your pictures are going to be dark otherwise. The other thing to know is that with this camera, you cannot turn off the flash. Also? When you look through the eyepiece and think you’re setting up your shot correctly, you’re not because what you see through the eyepiece and what the lens is seeing are two completely different things. You have to shoot with this thing blindly, by positioning the lens itself whatever distance away from the subject the lens says on the front.

The subjects for exploring the closeup and macro lenses were these flowers on my porch, which I call “fire things” and also yellow petunias, in case you’re ever unsure as to what you’re looking at.

I started off with the closeup lens which says on the front of it “subject distance 250mm” so I actually got a ruler and positioned the eye of the camera 250mm away (which is 25cm btw, almost a full ruler) and this is what I got. Obviously the first time I forgot to set the lighting but the next attempt turned out okay. My beef with this lens is that it made the image curve around the edges almost giving it a fisheye feel and I really don’t like that.

Next, I put on the 120mm lens and this is the result I got. The first photo, obviously I forgot to set the light again and it was when it was sunny out (the default setting is shady) so it washed everything out. Oops! WIth the second one I’m not really sure what happened. Obviously the quality of the image is better but the light isn’t. The day was sunny with a mix of clouds and I was in the shade half the time and half the time in the sun but I’m not sure if the 2nd pic was taken when the sun was behind a cloud or what. I just don’t remember.  I do know I was 120mm away from the fire things though.

Finally the macro lenses! First I decided to use the 60mm macro lens and as it turns out, this is my favourite lens of the bunch because it gave consistent results by placing the lens exactly 60mm (6cm and a cm is about the width of the tip of your little finger) from the subject. When I took the 1st set of pics I didn’t know it would become my favourite though.

I’ll just say it: the 30mm lens is a piece of garbage and a complete waste of film. I spent so much time trying to get it to work when I could have been testing other lenses or taking pics of interesting things, but no, I just had to try and figure out why it wasn’t working, which I never successfully did and wasted way too much film. I treated it the same as I did the other lenses and at first, I had it 30mm from the subject which is how I got the above pictures. The last one of course is almost successful, but it’s too dark and warped and not at all what was intended.

This is what happens when you get in the sunshine and get closer and closer to a petunia:

Blake’s attempt was 3cm away. Mine were kissing it right up close, literally touching the lens and 3cm away. I don’t know why the lens didn’t like the fire things but took to the petunias better. The light was better for the petunias in both mine and Blake’s case but that can’t be the only difference. If it is, someone will have to explain it to me.

And finally, at the suggestion of Jeck, I did what i’ll call “Jeck’s Dime Test” where I laid out a track of dimes 1cm between each other. There were 5 of them, even though I knew all 5 wouldn’t show up in 1 picture, I wanted to make extra sure this was going to work because it’s a good idea. Then I placed the Polaroid with both the 30mm lens and the 60mm lens using their respective distances away from the first dime, as indicated by the front of each lens, and this was the result:

The light was exactly the same, I literally took the pics each like, 10 seconds apart (long enough to switch lenses). So my conclusion is that the 30mm macro lens is just FUBAR and not even worth using, but the 60mm is actually pretty good if you have the right light. I didn’t really get the purpose of the closeup lenses but maybe their usefulness will become more apparent when I play with the wide and tele lenses in the (hopefully) near future.

I mean it’s a fact that the naked, base Polaroid 300 is a total piece of garbage but it can be improved with these lenses. I just have to figure out what each lens does and how that translates to an actual photo because I’m honestly not sure. Blake says he can tell the difference between a pic shot with a wide lens and one shot with a tele lens but I don’t think I can. I played around with each lens when I first got my camera and 5 packs of film and I don’t really see what they do. I need to experiment with them some more in better light because I didn’t intend to share the pics or do tutorials or whatever the hell this post is, but it was fun. I had a good time trying to figure out the steps you have to take to finally get a successful picture with 1 set of 4 and I’ve decided that there’s no point in me taking the Polaroid to the hospital because I’ll never have enough light to take very good pictures with it.

That said…

…I plan on making this camera and these lenses my bitches between now and I dunno, Squam? So mid-September? We’ll see how it goes, I’m not exactly crazy full of money and like I said in the beginning, Polaroid film is expensive. To literally buy me film so I can do more posts like these, click here! Because that would be awesome! If you’re reading this post like, I dunno, 5 years from now and there’s no Polaroid film on that list, I’m betting there’s a tip jar link on my site that would be equally as awesome if you found this post useful in any way! (Who knows? Maybe someone might!) Or you could purchase something from my Etsy shop!


(*Blake compared my Polaroid setup as Pizza Nova in the grand scheme of pizza because he’s totally offended I’d say I’m not worthy of Pizza Nova. I’m just saying I’m not necessarily qualified to write a real tutorial…)

Edited to add: On the lenses it says something like “subject distance 30mm” and this is NOT like focal length on your typical lens, it literally means have your subject 30mm (3cm, about an inch) away.

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