Wednesday, March 2, 2011

365 Project - Day 61 - "Diana"

March 02, 2011 - "Diana"

I have a new toy to play with...

This is an original 1960s Diana camera manufactured by the Great Wall Plastic Factory in Hong Kong. It's in near-mint condition... apparently only ever used once or twice... and still in it's original box, with instruction booklet and unopened plastic strap.

The Diana is a plastic fixed-lens medium-format camera, which shoots 120 film, giving you a mere 16 images. Originally it was meant as a novelty item... and was shipped out in cases of 144 cameras, which retailed for around 50¢ each. Professional photographers quickly took a liking to Diana, however - drawn to the blurry "dreamlike" quality it's cheap plastic lens provided to the images.

Diana cameras were only made for about a dozen years. Later versions included a separate flash-unit... as well as the ability to choose between shooting 16 pictures (each with a 4.2cm square negative) or 12 larger 6X6 cm images.

A few years ago, as the Lomogrophy movement began to spread (based around the Russian Lomo LC-A 35mm camera) - photographers started seeking out other plastic cameras (such as the Holga 120) for the effects their plastic lenses and light-leaking bodies offered. These cameras - known as "toy cameras" - became more and more popular... and thus, harder to find. Originals in working condition usually sell for between $75 and $100... sometimes more. That is, if you can find them!

As a result, the official Lomographic Society decided to create the "Diana F+" - a perfect replica of the original Diana camera with optional flash. The cameras were an instant hit... and today you can buy the Diana F+ in a variety of colors and with a large assortment of accessories. There's even a "Diana Mini" which uses 35mm film and takes smaller-framed shots (I purchased one of those last year). Unfortunately they no longer sell for a mere 50¢. A new Diana F+ is $50... $95 if you want it with the flash... and $240 if you want it bundled with all of the accessories.

But THIS Diana isn't a replica or clone... it's an original... and I can't wait to load it with some Kodak 120 VC film and see what dreams she can capture!

(Life is good!)

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