plastikcam.com       Diana F+

The original Diana camera is a simple plastic camera, often called toy camera, from the 1960s. It was produced by the Great Wall Plastic Co. in China and was branded with many names for different markets. The Dianas were either sold at prices as low as $1 or given away as promotional items. They were packed in boxes of 144 cameras for the resellers. The original Dianas used 120 film.

The lens is simple plastic meniscus lens with some vignetting. Light leaks are frequent, often you had to put black tape over the seams. Each frame is 4cm x 4cm, so a roll of 120 film gives 16 frames. Focusing is done by twisting the lens to 3 zones, 4-6ft, 6-12ft, or 12ft to infinity. There are 3 F-stops, sometimes said to be random, around F4.5, F8 and F11 due to less sensitive film in the 1960s and maybe smaller towards the end of production. Several variations in top-plate and lens-barrel style appeared, a few have flash sync. By the end of the 1970s 120 film was replaced by 135 film in cheap cameras. It is not sure when the production of the original Diana stopped, but full cases of 144 Dianas were still available in the 2000s. 135 film versions or look-alikes appeared in the 1970s.

In.2007 the 
Lomographische AG in Vienna launched the Diana F+ in the original 120 format, followed by 35mm and 110 versions. The medium-format Diana F+ is has become a system camera, with interchangeable lenses, flashes, and film backs. It has two formats, the original 16 frame 42x42mm, and a 12-frames-per-film 52x52mm. Features such as a tripod socket and a shutter lock were added. Its main features are:

75mm simple plastic menikus lens, ~F8, F16, F22, 3-zone focus 1-2m, 2-4m, 4m--∞. Pinhole setting F128
Shutter ~1/60, B
Size 125x95x76,  Weight 150 gr.
2 frame masks, 
42x42mm and 46.5x46.5mm, hook to block shutter in B position

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Camera front. Viewer window. Zone focus scale arounf the lens.

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Camera back. Finder. Red window with 2 settings.

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Camera top. Flash socket, film advance knob. On the lens: speed setting and shutter lever.

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Camera bottom. Tripod socket and back cover release. On the lens: diaphragm setting.

I made a test for all the lenses on Fuji Instax Mini film (see lens page). This is what you get with the 75mm standard lens:

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75mm standard,
F8, 1/60s, good sharpness.

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The basic set. Instructions, 2 frame masks, lens cover and camera with basic plastic strap.

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Back open. No frame mask installed.

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Film compartment. 42mm frame mask installed.

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Roll film ready.

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This is a whole set of a camera with all the lenses and most of the accessories, the Diana Deluxe Kit. As a set it's much cheaper than a purchase step by step. It was packaged in a BIG box that I did not keep. I found mine quite cheap on an advert page.

As there are quite some lenses and some accessories, this page would have become to long. So the lens page is here and the accessory page is here.

The Diana F+ isn't a reasonable camera. It is a basic plastic camera with only one speed, no automatic exposure, no automatic film advance, no autofocus, not even a rangefinder, cheaply made plastic lenses that produce heavy vignetting and random results. But...

...in the age of digital cameras and cell phones with quite good cameras Lomography took the risk to launch film cameras again and to get people back to the fun of trying out the basics of photography, even to the point of a certain hype. I would not discuss the prices, it's a small market nevertheless and everything had to be started from scratch again. They created a whole system of easy to use lenses and accessories. There is a second hand market which is worth a try if you are patient. On the other hand Lomography offers a 2 year warranty with a good service, I have used the service several times. So if your friends offer you a Diana as a gift, please ask them to keep the bill.

There are thousands of discussions across the forums worldwide about the Diana. Read some of them if you are interested.
I love playing wth the multiple possibilities of the system. For me it's fun. I don't think about measuring, I guess and I try. So for me the Diana is a nice find.

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