In other news, the Vogue Blog (usually not something I read, I swear) had a little feature on the Polaroid Notes the other day. All awesome apart from the last sentence “Shake it like a Polaroid picture…” But what can you do, still seems to be a common misconception. It’s true for peel-apart photos because that way they dry quicker, but people, you don’t shake integral film pictures.
Now that I have your attention, let’s look at this subjectively. I’m a fan of any kind of fun camera, but there’s one that just stands out, and with stand out, I mean sucks. It’s such an utter pile of crap it hurts to see any roll of film wasted on it. I’m talking about Lomography‘s most popular product these days, the Diana+, a cheap (well, the production costs not the actual price) remake (some might call it a knock-off, but whatever) of classic Dianas and its clones. If you don’t know what it is, here’s a photo of the subject in question.
So why all the hate? Now that’s simple.
- I hate that it’s too easy to get a fat roll from it. It shouldn’t be this hard, the Holga does a much better job preventing them. Sure you can apply some hacks to tighten the film, but that’s so basic, it should be there right from the start.
Inserting film is a pain since the rolls aren’t held by anything really. If you don’t get this right, a fat roll is just meant to be.
I hate that it leaks like crazy. I hear people saying to embrace the light leaks, that they’re cool, blah blah blah. Truth is that I hate them. I only had a few pictures from the Holga where they made for a really nice effect, but in general I loathe them. Taping the Diana+ like crazy is the obvious answer here, but even that didn’t really help. It’s just annoying.
I hate that the winder is so lose and keeps forwarding your film when the camera is moving around in your bag. Sure you can only slightly forward your film to calculate in the chance of the winder moving around in your bag, but seriously, that’s just crap.
I hate that it exposes the film to the very edge. When scanning you’re missing bits of your photo unless you scan without a film holder. As much as I like looking at the film metadata like the photo number and the type of film, I’m not too fond of having them on my photo. That’s close to cameras in the nineties adding the date when a photo was taken by exposing it directly onto it.
Also, what’s up with 5.2×5.2cm sized photos? I’m using 120 film, thank you very much. I wouldn’t mind you exposing it all the way, dear Diana+.
I hate that it’s so crappy that J never gets any decent results from it. Toy cameras should lead to some unexpected results, but for me that’s not a good entrance barrier, it’s just too high. The Holga has its quirks too, but in my experience it’s a lot easier to get started, and to get some decent results from your first roll.
One minor thing is the shutter release. It’s so awkward to use, because its position is just not very natural. Sure, it’s a crappy plastic camera, but so is the Holga, and its shutter release is much easier and less awkward to reach.
Now, all that is my opinion. I realize that a lot of people are quite happy with their Diana+, and that’s great. I had some hopes for the Diana Mini, but Nic from Four Corners Dark quickly dispelled them.
There’s one good thing about the Diana+, and that’s the pinhole mode, that was kind of fun, but you’re still running the same risks I pointed out above. And honestly, I’d much prefer a real pinhole camera over the Diana+ anytime. Especially considering that you can’t use a cable release with the awkward Diana+ shutter release. Sure there’s a weird clip you can use to affix the release, but chances are you’ll move the camera a bit by doing that and therefore ruin the photo with motion blur.
Other than that I feel like it’s a huge waste of money and film. I do embrace random results, but I don’t embrace crap results. My heart’s set on the Holga, that’s for sure. The only films I’ve had some luck with were black and white, both shooting with the lens on and with pinhole.
So do I recommend that you shouldn’t buy one? Of course not. If you want one so bad, by all means go ahead and cough up the 50 bucks. If someone would ask me what I prefer, the answer is simple. It’s either a Holga or one of the classic Dianas and its clones. You can get one for around 30 bucks off ebay, and it’s an original, sure it’s still a knock-off, but a real one, and not an expensive one too.
If you go for a Holga, buy them off ebay as well, the basic 120N is 20 EUR including shipping to Germany. For comparison, Lomography sells the 120CFN for some 70 bucks. Lifestyle products apparently need to be expensive. For me, the Holga is also just more mod-friendly. It’s a lot easier to take it apart, look at its innards, fix something, and reassemble it. The Holga is such a nice and simple beast, I just love it.
Yes, my heart was set on the Holga right from the start, but you can’t say I didn’t give the Diana+ a chance. Other people are obviously getting decent results with it, good on them. I’m a big fan of toy cameras, but the Diana+ is just crap, and quite expensive crap as it is. Maybe I’m not enough of a lomographer to really like it. It’s cute and all, but it’s just not meant to be.
So there you have it: The Diana+ sucks.
Last Sunday was World Pinhole Day. I took that as a good enough reason to finally try out the pinhole mode of the Diana+. Crappy camera as it is, there must be something about it that’s worth keeping it. Now I can say with some confidence that at least the pinhole mode is.
I put the Diana+ on a tripod, and together with family and a friend, and a timer, we went out to shoot some pinhole. Well, it was more me standing there holding a shutter for some time while the others waited and chatted. But what can you do, be patient, young padawan.
I shot two rolls, on black & white (which for me is the best kind of film for the Diana anyway) and a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100VS, a slide film which I had cross-processed. I can say with some confidence that the slide film was pretty much ruined. It might’ve been the cross-processing, since it usually adds a stop to the exposure. The shots were mostly overexposed. I’ll try another roll without cross-processing soon, but in general black & white is the safer choice, because it’s a lot less sensitive to over- oder underexposure than slide film.
The funny thing about pinhole is, it’s not a very big problem if you expose a couple of seconds too much. When you want a two-seconds exposure, and you end up exposing it for four, remember that it’s only one stop, you just doubled the amount of light coming in, but it’s still the same stop as switching from 1/60 to 1/125.
It might be worth writing down the exposure times. But then again it always is, but I wish I would’ve done it for the slide film’s sake. In the future I’ll underexpose it by one stop, should I do cross-processing combined with pinhole again. One shot came out quite decently though, it was of course a selfie. A 60-seconds exposure during which two adults and three kids went through the picture, but are nowhere to be seen.
It was pretty good fun with the Diana+, but of course now that I’m hooked on pinhole, I want this in my collection:
Well, the weekend for me has practically started today. I’m going on a trip with the guys from my office, to the north sea. Now, it’s not all fun, sea and photos, but also <a href="http://upstream-berlin.com/2009/01/07/upstream-goes-to-maine/"?some work.
Of course I’m hoping for sunshine, the photographer in me is lusting for a different scene for photos, but either way, it’ll be fun, and there will be film and Polaroids, no matter what.
Hopefully, it won’t be as snowy and cold as it has been in Berlin over the last couple of days. It was exciting when the snow was still fresh. I challenged myself to shoot one roll of film in the Diana+ on my way to the office, normally a stroll that takes less than five minutes. Pretty much worked out. I’m still not really friends with the Diana+, but it may have gotten us closer. Though I’d rather wish for a real old-school Diana, and not the really crappy one from Lomography.
Have a great weekend, friends!