Tag Archives: diana

Diana+ Camera Review

There’s something to be said for the latest camera bodies and professional grade lenses — it certainly seems to be the focus of many photographers. But there’s also something to be said for a cheap plastic camera body and an equally cheap plastic lens. Meet the Diana+ from Lomography.

This review is my own entry to my $50 Film Camera Project. With a price tag of $50, the Diana+ fits right in to the project requirements. This also happens to be the camera that Lomography is giving away to three lucky winners (along with 10 rolls of film from Ilford Photo). I purchased this camera (and yes, I bought it), not because it’s a prize for the project, but because I’ve been wanting one for a while now. So let’s get into this review…

THE TECHNICAL STUFF

The Diana+ camera is almost completely made of plastic, lens and all. It is a medium format camera that takes standard 120 rolls of film. It can produce 5.2cm x 5.2cm shots at 12 per roll, 4.2cm x 4.2cm shots at 16 per roll, or panoramic images. These different formats are achieved by using a specific mask in the camera body.

The shutter speed on the Diana+ has two settings: “Normal” and “Bulb”. The normal setting gives you about 1/60 seconds of exposure, while the bulb exposes for as long as you hold the shutter. The shutter release is located on the lens barrel along with the shutter mode adjustment. Bulb is intended to be used for pinhole photos or dimly lit situations (or whatever other reason you may want to use it for).

The aperture has four settings: “Sunny”, “Overcast”, “Cloudy”, and “Pinhole”. This setting can be adjusted on the bottom of the lens barrel. The indicated apertures are intended to be used with ISO400 film. Using a slower or faster film means that you’ll have to compensate for the difference in exposure. The pinhole setting will require the use of the bulb shutter setting.

The focus is controlled by twisting the actual lens. It’s kind of a guess, and the lens has three indicators: 1-2M, 2-4M, and 4M+. Since the camera is a viewfinder, you don’t actually “see” the focus — just the framing. And speaking of framing, just watch out for that parallax error!

Other than that, there are a few other technical aspects to operating the camera: lens removal for pinhole photos, double exposures, panoramic exposures, setting bulb exposures for pinhole shots, etc. But in general, the camera is very easy to use because of the minimalistic approach to the camera controls. Watch out though — just because it’s considered a “toy camera”, this doesn’t mean that you don’t have to think about what you’re doing from time to time. You still have to set the exposure, compensate for lighting conditions and film speeds, watch out for parallax error, remember to wind the film, set your focus, and so on.

And the best part of this camera… no batteries! I’ve really come to embrace a camera that can operate without electricity. It’s so liberating!

THE INTERESTING STUFF

The most interesting aspect of the Diana+, to me, is the fact that it’s so basic. Once you open it up to load the film, you basically see a big empty space. You think to yourself “where’s all the… stuff?” I mean, there’s really nothing to it. You’ve got a piece of plastic as a lens, then a plate with a few holes in it for the aperture, then a simple little mechanism for the shutter. Other than that, you’ve got a couple of spots to hold the film spools, and a little window to look through.

This is all very interesting because the camera also uses medium format film, which is typically used in higher-end cameras. But this coupling of simple technology with medium format film goes back to the days of the original Diana camera. Back then, 120 film was more of a standard than it is today because 35mm film hadn’t become popular until the late 1960′s. Prior to that, most cameras used 120 film or other formats that have basically been phased out.

THE QUIRKY STUFF

For as basic as this camera is, you have to expect things to be a little different than your shiny new digital camera. Most of the stuff is easy to get adjusted to, but there are a few things that come off as a little quirky. Nothing that would prevent me from using the camera though.

My biggest issue with the Diana+ is the film loading procedure. 120 film is sort of painful to load, but this camera doesn’t make it any easier. The spool holders are pretty flimsy and don’t really hold the spools in place before the back is placed on the camera. The spools have a tendency to pop out of place and thwart your efforts to get the film started. I’m sure this will get easier with experience, but it’s pretty frustrating when you spend 5 to 10 minutes loading a roll of film.

The other thing that got me was the viewfinder. Yes, I totally forgot about the parallax error. But I was also under the assumption that the viewfinder showed less of the scene than would be captured on the film. The opposite was true with my particular camera, and this caused me to crop out a few things on a couple of photos.

THE INSPIRATIONAL STUFF

This camera is such a kick in the creativity, I can’t even fully describe it with words. When the Diana+ is in your hands, you see things differently. You act differently. You take photos differently.

There’s a certain amount of “letting loose” that occurs with this camera. Some of it probably results from the photos that most of us have seen from these cameras (or similar cameras such as the Holga). If you let it, the camera will allow you to take the mindset of “don’t think, just shoot” — which is one of the mantras of Lomography (and I suggest you take a look at the 10 golden rules of Lomography to get a better feel for this stuff). This is also probably a result of knowing that you don’t exactly have a Hasselblad in your hands — if your framing or focus is slightly wrong, who cares?!

I found myself “shooting from the hip”, trying double exposures, taking long exposures without a tripod, and not giving a crap about straight horizons. The photos won’t come out completely perfect, so why shoot for perfection? You end up with heavy vignette, occasional light leaks, lens flare, and motion blur — and all this stuff adds to the mood of the photos produced. Without these things, Lomography just wouldn’t be Lomography.

In conclusion, the Diana+ is a really awesome camera! It’s so different than your typical digital camera, and it can really open your eyes to a completely new world. For $50, you can’t beat it. I would definitely suggest this camera to any photographer wanting to get a little crazy with their stuff.

MY TEST PHOTOS

So here it is. I shot 3 rolls of film in my Diana+ one day after I got it in the mail. The project only calls for one roll of film to be posted, but I wanted to show how different the results could be with different types of film. I shot a roll of black and white (Ilford HP5 Plus, ISO400), a roll of color slide film cross processed (Kodak Ektachrome E100VS, ISO100), and a roll of color negative film (Expired Konica Centuria 100, ISO100 that The_Wolf_Brigade sent me). You can see the entire set on Flickr. Here are two of the best shots from each roll:

Ocean Breeze GeneratorMerry-Go-RoundFlying and FloatingPurple DressMy HeiferChit Chat

And here are the rest of the shots from each roll:

Back Seat DriverBoat ParkingFilm NoobSailboats SailingKickin BackFerry LandingJust Another Brick in the WallBeach GhostsTwo Middle Aged Bald Guys With No Shirts Riding Beach Cruisers Down The StreetMain Street DrugIt's All Just A Blur To MeNewport Beach PierBinocular ExcitementThis Way and ThatCabo CantinaBad AimWorkin On The BoatCommodoreMr. Two Camera GuyThe Brave Little PigeonUS Post OfficeFunny Little CarWindow SaleSt. John Vianney ChapelA Colorful SoulI've Lost My HeadFlagsSticker ScooterBikini SaleThrough These Eyes

If you’re still contemplating whether or not to participate in this project, think long and hard about what you might be passing up. Like I said, we’re giving away one of these cameras plus ten rolls of film to three winners. And be sure to look back at the project announcement — I’ve added links to five project entries as good examples of what I’m looking for.

And you know what? The hardest part of shooting film… is deciding to shoot film. Once you get over that little hump, a whole new world opens up for you.

PHOTO PROJECT: The $50 Film Camera

Alright! It’s time for another super-fantastic photography project here at Epic Edits! This project is truly shaping up to be of epic proportions. The theme will be film photography, and we have a couple of big-league sponsors and experienced judges rooting us on. This one will require a little more effort on your part, but I’m hoping that we can all get excited about this little adventure we’re about to take on.

[UPDATE] The results of this project have been posted — be sure to check out all 80 film camera reviews that we received.

Those who have been following the blog are aware of my recent love for film photography — so this project should be of no surprise! The project will be open through mid-September due to the requirements I’ve set forth. Be sure you read through this announcement and if you plan on participating, you’d better get moving!

THE SPONSORS

I’m so excited to announce that we have not one, but two really awesome sponsors supporting this project! Lomography and ILFORD Photo have decided to pitch in some goodies for a few lucky contest winners at the end of the project.

Lomography will be contributing 3 Diana+ cameras! Dating back to the early 1960ʼs, the all-plastic Diana camera is a cult legend – famous for its dreamy, radiant, and lo-fi images. The brand new Diana+ is a faithful reproduction and a loving homage to the classic Diana – with a few new features tossed in. This is an amazing addition to any film photographer’s collection. Lomography is a globally active organization dedicated to experimental and creative snapshot photography. Boasting more than 500,000 active members across the world, the idea of Lomography encompasses an interactive, democratic, social, cultural, vivid, blurred, and crazy way of life. Totally cool people in my book!

ILFORD Photo

ILFORD Photo (part of Harman Technology, ltd.) will be contributing 6 bricks of 120 format black & white film to go with those Diana+ cameras! That’s 30 rolls of pure gold my fellow photographers! We’ll be splitting up 10 rolls each of their HP5 Plus, XP2, and Delta 3200 between the three contest winners — which also happen to be 3 of my favorite black & white films (Coincidence? I think not!). For over 125 years ILFORD Photo has set the standard for the highest quality photographic products and achieved legendary status throughout the worldwide photographic community. Today, ILFORD Photo offers a wide range of exceptionally high quality black and white photographic materials all featuring very high image quality, ease of use and consistently reliable results.

In total, we’ve got over $300 worth of prizes to split up between 3 contest winners! So if I’ve piqued your interest with these snazzy prizes, read on and find out how you can get some for yourself!

THE CONCEPT

This project has many different intents, and all of them revolve around learning and exploring new mediums. First and foremost, this project should be fun and exciting for any photographer to participate in. For those who have been brought into photography after the start of the digital age, this is a great opportunity to learn a little about the history of our hobby and pick up some new skills by shooting film. For those already familiar with the days of film, this is a great opportunity to get back to your roots and rediscover the magic of film photography. And for those already shooting film today, this is a great opportunity to share your knowledge with others and maybe pick up a new toy!

My main objective for the project as a whole is to show other photographers that film photography can be very inexpensive and exciting. For whatever reason, there’s a popular belief that film photography is expensive and tedious. But through your participation in this project, we can disprove that point and show everybody just how great film can be.

THE REQUIREMENTS

If you’re planning on participating in the project (and especially if you want to participate in the contest), pay careful attention to the following requirements. This is a multi-part project, and it’s going to require self-publication of a little writing and a little photography. Also – the links scattered throughout these requirements will prove to be useful.

  1. Find a Film Camera for Under $50
    That’s right, I’m asking you to spend money on this project (gasp!). Actually, you have two options here: 1) go buy a film camera, or 2) use one that you already have. I would encourage everybody participating to pick up a new camera, but if you’re strapped for cash and you already have a cheap camera, go ahead and use it. You can use any type of camera as long as it’s a film camera (and under $50).
  2. Shoot Some Film With Your New Camera!
    Go grab a couple rolls (or packs) of film and run ‘em through your new toy! Get acquainted with your camera and make note of the ins-and-outs of your particular equipment and film you’re using.
  3. Write a Review of Your Camera
    Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your camera, I want you to write a review of it. The purpose of this is to educate other photographers on that piece of equipment. Tell us where you got it, how much it cost, some of the cool features, some of the not-so-cool features, how to use it, what you love about it, etc. The sky is the limit here, and what you write is totally up to you.
  4. Publish a Photo of Your Camera
    To go along with your mini camera review, I’d like to see a photo of your camera. The photo can be taken with any camera of your choice — I just want to see what it looks like. This part is important, because your camera photo will be the link to your project entry when I post the final results (so make sure we can actually see your camera!).
  5. Publish an Entire Roll of Photos
    Hey, this is a photography project right? So let’s post some photos! Along with your review, I want to see an entire roll of film that was taken with your new camera (and it doesn’t have to be your first roll). Why an entire roll? Because it’ll be neat to see any mistakes along with the gold nuggets.
  6. Submit Your Link Here
    I know, it may seem like I’m asking for a lot here, but there’s really not too much work involved. To enter the project you will need to have a single URL link that will take me to your review, your camera photo, and your roll of film. There are plenty of ways to go about this — so no excuses!
  7. DEADLINE: SEPTEMBER 12, 2008

Based on our project history here at Epic Edits, I’m expecting some very high quality project entries!

THE CONTEST

All project entries will be automatically entered to win one of three prizes from our sponsors (and all three prizes are the same). Two judges will each choose their favorite project entry based on the quality of the review and on the photos presented. The third winner will be a “people’s choice award” decided by a poll when I post the final results. Here are your two judges:

Jim Talkington is a professional photographer of 20+ years, has had experience with advertising, photojournalism, editorial, catalog, darkroom technician, retail photo sales, writer, and many more facets of photography. He also has a strong history with film photography.

Udi Tirosh is a fellow photography enthusiast and photography blogger. He’s got a DIY attitude and he’s all about cheap and affordable photography equipment. Since this project is based around cheap old film cameras, I thought he’d fit right in as a judge.

So like I said, these two guys will each be choosing one winner to receive a Diana+ camera from Lomography and 10 rolls of film from ILFORD Photo. The third winner will be chosen by the blog readers. Good luck everyone!

THE ENTRY FORM

Before you enter your project, double check the requirements and rules posted above. If you don’t meet the minimum requirements, I’ll ask you to revise your entry. If you do meet them, I’ll send you a confirmation email.

[UPDATE: Here are five project entries from week 1 that stand out as good examples]

IMPORTANT: When submitting your project entry, please provide the link to the specific web page for your camera review (and be sure that the photos are accessible from your review). A link to you website, blog, Flickr stream, etc, won’t cut it. Please submit the page link.

[UPDATE] The results of this project have been posted — be sure to check out all 80 film camera reviews that we received.