Last time on Snap Spot I shared photo filter app Vintique, which is a great choice if you want to add an antique, vintage look to your photos. This week I’m featuring the Holga iPhone Lens Filter and Case Kit from HolgaDirect, which is an affordable case with a range of built-in lenses.

The Holga line of cameras are medium format toy cameras, famous for producing a low-fidelity aesthetic. The low cost cameras and lenses often result in pictures with blur, distortion, vignetting, and light leaks, features which have become popular with some photographers.

Photo apps like Instagram, Vintique, Hipstamatic, and a slew of others aim to reproduce those much desired effects digitally, and as a result, iPhonography has become increasingly popular with iPhone owners. If you’re one of those dedicated iPhonographers, you will love the Holga iPhone Case for the iPhone 4 and 4S, which comes with several different filters to create all new photo effects.

The Good

This iPhone case is stylish, with a sleek encasement that comes in black, white, silver, red, and blue. I used the white one, which is a thin, high quality case. The lens turret, which is a ring of nine different lenses, comes in gray and fits onto the back.

You select a lens by rotating the turret until the lens that you want is over the iPhone’s camera. It’s simple, intuitive, and quick, so you can capture photos without having to switch out accessories.

Here’s a quick list of the nine lenses and what they do:

  1. Dual Image – Produces two identical images
  2. Triple Image – Produces three identical images
  3. Quadruple Image – Produces four identical images (picture a kaleidoscope)
  4. 60mm Macro – Captures macro images 60mm from the lens
  5. Empty – For taking regular iPhone photos (You’ll get vignetting because of the case design)
  6. Red Filter with Heart – Features a red hue with a clear heart in the center
  7. Red Filter – Features a red hue
  8. Green Filter – Features a green hue
  9. Yellow Filter with Clear Center – Features a yellow hue with a clear circle in the center for highlighting subjects
  10. Blue Filter with Clear Center – Features a blue hue with a clear circle in the center for highlighting subjects

 
While all of the lenses are fun to play with, the shining star of this case is, by far, the macro lens. I’ve used several different macro lenses designed for the iPhone, but I was the most impressed by the macro lens in this case. It is sharp, clear, and it focuses well at the 60mm length. Check out a few of the pictures I took with it:

Basil flower macro, taken with Holga iPhone Case

Unripened raspberry macro, taken with Holga iPhone Case

Strawberry flower macro, taken with Holga iPhone Case

Awesome, right? Personally, I’d buy this case just for that lens – the others are just a bonus.

I wasn’t in love with the straight blue and red filters, but the heart and the blue/yellow filters with clear centers made for some impressive effects. The heart needs an open background to be clearly visible, making it great for landscapes, but the other two are perfect portrait options, clearly highlighting the subjects.

Yellow lens with clear center, Holga iPhone Case

Red lens with heart center, Holga iPhone Case

I’m not sure most people will get a lot of use out of the kaleidoscope lenses, but they are fun to have around just in case. I do wish that more useful filters like zoom or fisheye could have been used in their place, but the rest of the lenses make up for this lack.

Quadruple filter, Holga iPhone Case

The Bad

The rotating lens turret is not removable. It is permanently attached to the back of the phone with glue, meaning you have to have the extra bulk all of the time. A snap on attachment would have made more sense, because as it stands, it can be bulky to put in a pocket.

You can’t use the flash with this case (as it is blocked), but lets face it – the flash on the iPhone 4 and 4S is disappointing at best anyway. You will need to be careful with the case, because the lens turret is glued on, and I can imagine it coming off if you banged it or pulled on it the wrong way.

Verdict

If you’re one of those people who has replaced your point and shoot digital camera with the iPhone, you’ll want to take a look at the Holga iPhone Case.

It’s priced right and the lenses are guaranteed to give you quite a bit of variety in your iPhone photos. Even if you don’t use this all the time, it’s well worth buying for the novelty of the case and the occasional picture. I’ve installed this permanently on my iPhone 4, and I’m crossing my fingers for an updated iPhone 5 version.

You can get the Holga iPhone Lens Filter and Case Kit SLFT-IP4 from HolgaDirect.com, which is a great site for both Holga and iPhonography accessories. It comes in five colors, and is priced at just $24.99.

Want more great photo accessories and apps? Check out my previous Snap Spot posts.

As always, if you have a great app or accessory that you would like to see featured on Snap Spot, feel free to get in touch with me via email or on Twitter.