The original Diana cameras were manufactured in the 1970’s.
My reintroduction into film photography all began with the Diana F+ camera. I probably wouldn’t have this website if it wasn’t for it. This all-plastic camera shoots 120 medium format film and requires no batteries. Even the lens, again, is plastic.
Vignetting & chromatic aberrations are common in Diana shots. © photos by Paul Hargett
The quality control from camera-to-camera is sub-par by design. From what I gather, each camera produced has slight variations that make each camera unique. For instance, variations in the thickness of plastic across the lens surface can effect what areas in the frame will be in-focus. Not only that, the direction of the lens might not even point straight ahead! Diana F+ cameras have massive parallax error. If you don’t adjust each and every shot the composition will be completely off. For my Diana, I need to adjust what is seen in the viewfinder by moving the camera up-and-to-the-left. This adjustment pretty much guarantees the shot I want is captured. Speaking of this, you’ll never really know exactly what is captured– but you can get close. These cameras are liberating to shoot with because of the lack of control.
Light leaks & film advancing errors are only part of the fun! © photos by Paul Hargett
But this is the total allure of a Diana. It forces you, the photographer, to forget everything you know about the hobby and only mind the basics: composition and available light. These cameras have three f-stops (f11, f16 & f22) and only one shutter speed (1/60th)! The lens supposedly can be zone-focused, but honestly, I can’t see much difference between the three zones (1-2m, 2-4m & 4m-∞). Any film speed can be used, but I find that 100 or even 50 ISO films provide more flexibility in relation to the available f-stops. Color films work great, but I almost prefer b/w stocks because of the style of photos it shoots. ‘Dreamy’ is often used to describe the look of Diana photographs.
The new Diana F+ camera from Lomography.
Be sure to only shoot in bright mid-day sun while learning a Diana camera. This is because of the amount of light the small f-stops let in. Pick a 50, 100 or 400 speed film and go snap away! Your first few rolls will probably not turn out well– but stick with it. Each developed roll will reveal the interesting quirks of your camera. A light meter is always good to have, so carry one for help in selecting what aperture to use.
Purchase your own Diana at Lomography.