Review – The Original Diana-F Toy Camera

Diana-F Toy Camera

In all honestly I also have a new Lomography Diana Mini and a Diana-F+, which I learned to use first and then I dabbled in using this older baby. The design has essentially stayed the same and you can find solace in it’s simplicity. The camera is purely plastic and does feel very toy like in your hands. Everything is manual and the plastic viewfinder does not do you any favors. You can line up some picture perfect moments and then miss them because you forgot to take off your lens cap ūüôĀ But the lo-fi vibe and vignetting on your photos make your pics seem older and richer at the same time.

The Diana-F Camera

The Diana-F and was introduced after the Original Diana as the model that could take a flash. Simple enough I guess the F stands for flash. The Diana was first manufactured in the early 1960’s by a company called the Great Wall Plastic Factory. They would mainly make the camera as novelty items and giveaways for companies. Hence there are many privately labeled and clone versions out there. The Diana-F takes 120 film and should produce 16 4 x 4 cm images. As mentioned before the camera was made of plastic with a black body and dark minty blue top.¬†Diana-F Camera

Diana-F Camera

Features

The Diana-F is completely manual but it does not have that many options to confuse you. I think the number one that screws me up is forgetting to take off the lens cap. Ugh viewfinder you don’t tell me anything!! Anyways the camera has a¬†meniscus lens and¬†aperature settings on the bottom the lens,¬†which are marked with cloud and sun pictures. Cloudy (f/11), Partly Cloudy (f/13) and Sunny (f/19). You could also focus buy turning the inside lens ring to helpful guides on the bottom labeled 4-6ft, 6-12ft and 12ft-inf. There is¬†also the option of a bulb function for long exposures, which can be found on top of the lens.
Once you have set everything on the camera you can take a photo by pulling on the silver lever on the right side of the lens. There is no film counter so you have to keep track of your film in the little red window on the back of the camera. Every time you advance the film you do so to the next number.Diana-F Camera
The Diana-F does have the option of adding a flash. Though I don’t have one currently it fits into the two plugs on the top of the camera and it is powered by two AA batteries inside the flash itself. The Flash would take one time use AG-1 bulbs.

Film

The Diana-F uses 120 medium format film.  This format of film is not as common as 35mm so your best bet is trying to purchase it online or in specialty camera shops. I used film from Lomography for testing this camera, specifically the Color Negative 400 Speed film that you can find on Amazon.com.  You can look for more types of  film directly from the Lomography website.

Film Installation

The Diana-F is two pieces and you can take the camera apart to add your film. On the bottom of the camera there is a small black lever than can¬†be¬†moved between the words OPEN and LOCK. In the open position you are able to slide the back off of the camera. There should be an empty spool in the left film chamber in the camera. It needs to be transfered to the right so that the new film and spool can go on the left side. ¬†Once installed draw out the ledger of your film across the camera and into one of the slots of the other spool that you placed in the right film chamber.¬†Make sure it’s even because when you start to wind the film up it may start to bunch up on the side it’s not. Wind the film three or four times to make sure it’s securely in place. To close the camera slide the back cover back on and turn the lever on the bottom back to the LOCK position. You should turn the winding knob till you see the number 1 in the red window on the back of the camera. ¬†Wind the film for every exposure going through the numbers 1-16. You might wind up with some double exposures if forget to wind the film after every exposure.

Once you have taken your last photos wind the knob until the film is completely wound into the spool. Take the film out in a dark place and make sure it is completely wound. Tape it securely to make sure no light can get in. Also don’t drop film like I did, because that seems to cause light leaks ūüôĀ But still looks kinda cool? Maybe. Sort of.

Picture Taking

The pictures that I am showing here are from an awesome trip that I had earlier in the year to Outside Lands in San Francisco. It’s a really cool three day outdoor festival in Golden Gate Park that features many musical artist. If you don’t know this already San Francisco is generally cool and cloudy most of the time, especially Golden Gate park in August. So for the most park my camera was set on the “cloudy” setting.31030002

Many of my pics weren’t all that well focused, due to my extrememly shaky hand.

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I took some other photos, but I dropped my film right after I had taken it out of the camera. This cause there to be light streaks on the side of my later photos.

I also took a photo of my back yard in all its dead grass glory. It was a bit sunnier there so the photo was a little bit more exposed.

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I really like the results of the camera. Though they are not the sharpest photos they do have a more dated look to them. Like you are looking at them with a dreamy memory filter. It’s very light aso it is easy to carry and pack, though if you really want a flash with it then it almost about doubles the size of the camera.

If you really like this camera and it’s design you can sometimes find in my Etsy Shop. If it’s not in stock you can always drop me a note and I can source it for you for no extra cost and make a reserved listing just for you. You can also risk buying from an auction site like Ebay. You can use this link HERE to see what they have.

Most times the manual for this camera is no longer with the camera itself, but I had one with the camera that I found. You can find it at the link below.

Diana-F Camera Instruction Manual

Specifications:

  • Type:¬† ¬† ¬†Plastic Box Camera
  • Manufacturer: ¬† ¬† Great Wall Plastic Factory
  • Year of release: ¬†¬† ¬†Early 1960’s
  • Films:¬† ¬† ¬†120
  • Film format: ¬† ¬† ¬†4 x 4 cm
  • Lens:¬† ¬† Plastic Meniscus Lens
  • Shutter:¬† ¬† Daylight and Bulb
  • Viewfinder:¬† ¬† Clear Plastic Window
  • Focus: ¬† ¬†¬†4ft-infinity
  • Flash:¬† ¬† Socket on top for Flash Gun
  • Film advance:¬† ¬† ¬†Top winding knob. No prevention against double advance and double exposure.
  • Light Meter: ¬† ¬†¬†None
  • Dimensions (W x H x D):¬† ¬† ¬† 5″ x 3.75″ x 3″

I hope that you have enjoyed this review. Please let me know if you have any particular cameras that you would like to see reviewed.

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