The camera that started it all.
My first deep dive into analogue photography.
The one. The only. The Diana.
I could spent the whole day telling the history of this iconic plastic camera, but I believe that there’s little point in that as many people have done it already – and better than I could possibly do. For a full detailed history, please refer to the official Diana Microsite from Lomography and the Diana page on Wikipedia. Also, don’t miss out on the Detrich Collection, the largest collection of Diana cameras and its clones (or is the Diana the clone? We may never know….).
Long story short, just to give a brief overview, the original Diana was born in the 1960 as an inexpensive 120mm film camera, produced by a Hong Kong company, the Great Wall Plastics Factory. It was… cheap. As in VERY cheap. Its wonderful plastic lens gave pictures a dreamy, lo-fi, soft focused look, its imprecise timings (everything was mechanic and kept at a minimum complexity level) added some randomness and the camera itself was prone to have some light leaks.
During its production age, the camera itself was used mainly as a gift by companies to customers, just like a branded biro pen. It was rediscovered again in the late 1990s as a medium to experiment with photography. Austrian company Lomographische AG, behind the lomography movement, launched a new version of the Diana-F, called the F+, which included a pinhole setting, removable lens and removable back.
The Diana F+ can take 12 46.5×46.5 mm or 16 42×42 mm pictures on a standard 120 mm film. It has three aperture settings f/11, f/16 and f/22 plus a pinhole setting, f/150. These are quite approximate, as everything is on this lovely camera.
One of the best things about the Diana F+ (the newer model by Lomography, which I own) is the large range of accessories available. The base model starts as a medium format camera that uses 120mm film, with the 75mm standard lens.
Lomography has produced so far these lenses for the Diana F+:
- Super Wide 38 mm lens
- Closeup 55 mm lens
- Sharp glass 75 mm lens
- Telephoto 110 mm lens
- Fisheye 20 mm lens
Except for the 75 mm ones, all the other lenses are made in plastic, which gives the Diana its unique style.
You can also change picture format. Included with the Diana itself there is a small plastic frame that allows you to take 16 42×42 mm photos, instead of the canonic 12 46.5×46.5 mm. Lomography released several accessories that allow you to change film format:
- 35 mm Replacement Back – allows you to shoot standard 35mm film with the Diana. Included in the package are several frames that allow for four different settings
- 33 x 48 mm panoramic with exposed sprocket holes
- 33 x 34 mm square (yes, technically it is not a square) with exposed sprocket holes
- 24 x 48 mm standard panoramic
- 24 x 36 mm standard landscape
- Diana Instant Back ‘- allows to use Fujifilm Instax Mini film packages into the Diana, turning it into an instant camera!
The camera itself also has a two pronged socket for a flash (the Diana Flash is available separately but comes with adaptors so you can use other hotshoe flashes and you can use the Diana flash on a normal hotshoe camera – although did not work with my DSLR).
These are some sample shots I’ve taken with this camera, the 38 mm lens and the 35mm back. I went through six film rolls that week, mainly Agfa Vista 400 and Kodak ColorPlus 200. I think I also had a Fujifilm Xtra 400, but I am not sure.
The Diana Mini
This is a more adorable version of the Diana, more compact and even lighter! It shoots 35mm film in two formats, either half frame (packing 72 shots in a standard 36 exp. film) or square, and it is possible to change format with the flick of a switch (no risk of exposing the film changing frames like the Diana). It features the same two pin flash plug as the Diana so the Diana Flash works like a breeze on this one. It features a 24mm plastic lens that, unlike the Diana, cannot be changed. Focusing is done via a zone selector, just like her big sister, with four distances available instead of three. Aperture can be selected between Sunny (f/11) and Cloudy (f/8). There is a “N” shooting mode (1/60) and a “B” mode.
The only accessories that work with this camera (natively, at least) are the Diana Flash and the Cable Release (no collar needed, there is a standard threaded hole for that).