Photographer and blogger Alli wrote about her Diana Camera on her blog, Kisses & Chaos, not too long ago. We loved her tips and stories so much that we asked her if she would kindly share her experience with you.
I have recently had the pleasure of partnering with Uncommon Goods…purveyors of all things quirky and awesome. If they don’t have it then you don’t need it… there’s a little something for everyone. They have amazing gift ideas for women. Have a hard to shop for man in your life? They’ve got you covered with great gifts for him too…but I’m getting away from the point and my point is a good one…
A few weeks ago they were kind enough to send me the Diana F+ camera kit (which I have been wanting for ages) with some Lomography 120 black and white film (I already had the color film), asked me to go play and then tell you guys what I think. Seriously? You don’t have to ask me twice, no sir. So play I did.
The instruction manual was actually helpful! Say what? I know! A helpful instruction manual? Bust out your ice skates ’cause hell froze over. It’s short, sweet and to the point. That’s my kind of instruction manual. No long explanations – just quick and easy. It explained the settings and (surprising) features. A toy camera with features? Yup. You heard right. It has the basics you find with any toy camera with one exception: it has a pinhole setting. It’s like someone getting their peanut butter in my chocolate. This camera is Bruce Wayne by day and Batman by night…your average toy camera with vignetting and saturated colors but then BAM! it also has this secret pinhole identity which creates dreamy photographic goodness. This revelation brought about the infamous “Alli Happy Dance-Dance-Dance of Joy and Happiness™.” +1
property of Kisses & Chaos
(Good god, I’m an idiot.)
Ok. Playtime details:
I have other toy cameras (Holgas, quad cams, polaroids, etc) but I have never had the chance to play with a Diana. Though really lightweight it felt sturdier than my other toy cameras. I was impressed that the back plate actually has a good locking mechanism so it doesn’t accidentally pop off and expose your film. (I have had this happen with my Holga -which is why it is now held shut with electrical tape- and it is very frustrating to have a roll of film ruined due to poor construction…I’m just sayin’…some people say it’s part of the “charm” of a toy camera…I think those people must have a lot of disposable income cause I get m-a-a-a-a-a-d when my film gets ruined in the name of “charm.”) Safe and secure film makes Alli a happy camper. +1
The film was easy to load (unlike my Holga, which you have to man handle and knock around) : +1. The locking back plate, lens and other accessories were easy to get on and off : +1. As I wound the black and white film I noticed that I had to strain to see the exposure number on my film and it was a VERY bright sunny day. I initially thought this was a flaw with the camera, but after shooting with a different brand of film I discovered the fault actually lay with the black & white film I was using. (The extremely dark paper made it impossible to read the film. Boo.)
So as I traipsed around the countryside taking photos of cows’ butts, camera around my neck, I discovered that the lens cap had fallen off somewhere amid the tall grass. I spent the next 5 minutes retracing my steps trying to find it (which I did). Loose lens cap: –1.
I decided to try out the pinhole feature using the bulb setting (which means the shutter stays open until you release it). The Diana comes with this little, well, to use the technical term, thingy-ma-bob that you pop into place to keep the shutter open for long exposures. Brilliant idea! I didn’t have to hold the shutter release manually which can cause camera shake. Fantastic! +1. But it was awkward to use and kept falling out…which subsequently caused camera shake. Damn! Hopefully it will be easier to use with practice but for now it counts as a –1.
above and below: playing with the pinhole settings
Since the camera is a toy camera, the film has to be advanced manually. This has its advantages and its drawbacks. Drawback? If you forget to wind your film you wind up with double exposures. Advantage? The film doesn’t wind automatically so you can have double exposures. I like to play with double exposures, so for me this was a total perk. +1
I would love to try the Diana with a flash and shoot indoors. The kit, sadly, doesn’t come with a Diana flash…it has to be bought separately (-1)…of course you can also buy a hotshoe adaptor which means you can a non-Diana flash if you like, but I think I will, since I am all anal & matchy-matchy, buy the Diana flash (and the adaptor because I’m a weirdo like that).
The kit did come with a hardback book – Diana F+: More True Tales & Short Stores, which is a collection of essays and images of, you guessed it, the infamous Diana camera. I doubt I would ever buy the book separately, but I enjoyed skimming it (even if I think the book’s claim of being filled with work by “Diana masters” was over-selling it a bit… Okay…totally overselling it. I think the “shoot from the hip” photo movement is absolute rubbish and an insult to photography. It’s best not to get me started). +1
So let’s tally up the score. The Diana F+ camera receives a grand total of…*drum roll please*… 4 points! What does this mean? Absolutely nothing. I have no point scale… but here are my final thoughts:
I will not use the film again… between the dark paper making it impossible to read the frame number and what I consider to be poor quality film I’ll be sticking with my Kodak 120 for all my medium format photographic needs. I must say, however, that I do love this camera to bits and it will likely replace my Holga as my toy camera of choice. It was fun and easy to use. Thank you, UncommonGoods for giving me such a wonderful new toy! (And to dear friends and family who are reading this: I know what I’m getting you for your birthdays… whether you think you want one or not. You’ll thank me later. The great and powerful Oz has spoken.)
Kisses & Chaos,
Alli Woods Frederick
image/video credits: image #1 © uncommon goods
all other images © 2012 Alli Woods Frederick. all rights reserved. use without express written permission is prohibited.