Lomography Diana: Starting Tips

Updated on January 12, 2017
Diana F+
Diana F+ | Source

Diana's Brief Story

The Diana camera first appeared in the 1960s and was originally marketed as an inexpensive novelty gift. The camera was a success among photography aficionados due to the unexpected artistic effects on photographs. This was because of the leaky quality of the camera and its low-quality plastic lenses.

Nowadays there is an increased interest in film photography due to the Lomography community. The Diana F+ is only one of many film cameras that have made a comeback.

In this article, I will give you some useful tips to start shooting with your Diana camera and get great photos!

120 film format
120 film format | Source

Film Choice

The Diana camera typically uses 120 film. This is a medium-size format, larger than the more classic 35mm film. There are many emulsions to choose from. There is the well known color-negative film, which is the more common emulsion you can find, and then there are others like XPro-slide, red-scale and purple-chrome.

The different emulsions mean you can get photographs with more natural colors or more vibrant ones. While others allow for a complete transformation of colors and give your photographs tones of red or purple.

To start with, just choose any film that strikes your fancy!

ISO number

One of the most important things when choosing a film it is the ISO number. And what exactly is the ISO number?

The ISO number is an indication of the film speed. But what it really tells you is the sensitivity of the film to light. The lower the number, the less sensitive it is to light. If you are shooting outside on a sunny day, a low ISO number like 100 is normally enough for good exposures.

However, when shooting with a Diana camera I recommend using an ISO of at least 200, even on sunny days. This is because the camera is prone for underexposed pictures. For low light conditions or for shooting at night I would recommend ISO 400. I would not go above those two numbers because higher ISO's, such as an ISO 800 will increase the grain of your photographs.

Diana Focus Settings
Diana Focus Settings | Source

Setting the Focus

The focus setting depends on the distance your camera is to the subject of your photograph.

The Diana F+ comes with three settings. Every time you take a photo you just have to judge how close you are to your subject and set the ring accordingly.

I suggest that you set the focus to the middle position (2-4m). This will get your photos in the right focus most of the times. The other two settings are normally used for close-up photos (1-2M) or for landscapes (4M-∞).

Diana Aperture Settings
Diana Aperture Settings | Source

Aperture

The aperture setting refers to the diaphragm opening inside the photographic lens. This is important to regulate how much light passes through onto the film inside the camera, once you press the shutter button.

The Diana F+ has 4 settings: ‘sunny’, ‘slightly cloudy’, ‘cloudy’ and ‘pinhole’.

Again, because it is easy to underexpose photographs with this camera, I suggest using a setting bellow what you would normally use.

This means that unless you are under a very bright sun, you should use the ‘slightly cloudy’ setting.

If the sky is overcast or you are shooting in low light conditions (like at night or indoors) you should use the ’cloudy’ setting.

At night or indoors, it is also a good idea to use the flash that comes with the camera.

Shutter Speed

The shutter speed is the time that the diaphragm of the photographic lens remains open once you press the shutter button. Together with the aperture setting it regulates how much your film is exposed to light.

The Diana camera only comes with two shutter speeds. "N" stands for normal and corresponds to a speed of approximately 1/60 of a second. This is the one I recommend you to use for everyday photos.

The second shutter speed is "B". This setting stands for "bulb mode", which means that as long as you keep the shutter button pressed down the diaphragm will remain open. This setting allows you to take prolonged exposure photos and obtain cool effects such as light trails. This also allows you to “Light Paint” your photographs.

A double exposure I did with a Diana camera
A double exposure I did with a Diana camera

Advancing Film

Finally, after shooting your photo don't forget to advance the film to the next frame. This is done using the advance wheel located on the top of the camera.

The cool thing is that you can advance your film as much as you want or none at all! You can create double exposures, like the photo on the right or create panoramic pictures by advancing the film by half frames only.

Experiment!

The ultimate secret while shooting with a camera like the Diana is to experiment, experiment and just let you creativity fly!

Quick Settings Guide for Diana F+

 
Day-Light
Low-Light
ISO
200
400
Focus
2-4M
2-4M
Aperture
Slightly-Cloudy
Cloudy
Shutter
N
N or B

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    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 

      4 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for the useful information in this hub!

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