My Diana+ showed up today, figured I'd go over it a bit and give my initial impressions. There are other people that already have comparisons between the original and the plus, but if I don't do the same, then I won't have anything to talk about. This may be my longest post ever, as this is a bit historic and I'll probably babble for awhile. Some of it may sound nitpicky, but I'm just being honest. And, right up front, no matter what I bitch about, I'm digging it. We'll see how it performs tomorrow, but I like what I see so far.
After pulling it out of the shipping box, we see a kind of ugly box surrounding the Diana+. What, it's torn? I want my money back.
It's not awful or anything...just not particularly attractive. And, it's very big. Compare the original:
I didn't buy it for the box, though, so...whatever. That big Diana+ box will just go in another, bigger box for storage! Here we see the complete package.
Comes with a nice book, instructions, the camera (duh) and two masks. The instructions are in 400 different languages and are typical. They are, after all, instructions. I read through the seven pages, but I had already figured out all the gimmicks just from noodling with the camera. Just in case, though. I did learn how to load 120 film into the camera. Might come in handy. Speaking of, I read a comment on flickr that it took someone awhile (like 10 minutes) to load the film. Yeah, maybe if you have never owned a Diana before...but my Snappy doesn't even have the spool holders attached, so it was pretty easy for me. There are a few niggles with the loading, which I'll talk about in a minute.
Before I talk about the camera itself, let's check out that book.
Actually, quite nice. Kind of cheap production...though the cover is cloth and has nice prints glued to the front and back. It is warped, like all of my Lomography books. And the paper is probably the cheapest paper available. A few steps above newsprint...but, the book itself is quite nice. Though, a design criticism - what's up with the squiggles throughout the book? I can tell it's a 'design' element, and it's not unattractive or anything. But the graphics seem to have nothing to do with the content. They are just squiggly drawings, there to fill space. A guy parasailing? Riding a bike? No idea. Aaanyway. It has lots of pictures, of course. Mostly from the Diana+, I assume. I recognize some from the Diana+ flickr group. Has a nifty interview with Mark Sink, and some great Diana shots of his. Also Allan Detrich and his collection that Lomography bought. They talk to Tony Lim, who has a large collection of Diana clones. I've had some contact with Tony (check out the interview he and Skorj did with the creator of the Holga in Lightleaks #2 - back when I used to design the mag), but didn't know he was so deep into it! There are also various short stories that they call vignettes (get it?). They seem to be fiction. I just skipped over them. I was excited about the Diana history, but it tells me nothing I haven't heard before. I was hoping for some insight, but they go the 'legend' and 'shrouded in mystery' route, so it's pretty vague. The book is 256 pages long. A nice job all around, and a nice thing to throw in with the camera. It still doesn't account for the hugosity of the box...half of that is filler around the outside of the contents.
Okay, blah blah blah, right? Enough of that, let's talk about the camera. I should study or something. I think I'll do this and listen to Joy Division instead. Unless you want me to stop. No? Okay, I'll continue. You in the back. Shut up and sit down.
Okay, so I pull it out of the box. Initial impression? It looks like a Diana, and it actually feels like a Diana. A very clean, shiny, new Diana, but a Diana. Diana. Just to say Diana a few more times. It felt so much like a Diana that I was instantly less excited about it. Not in a bad way, I guess. It just felt...comfortable.
Here we see new and old. Nice and big for all you geeks out there that want a close-up comparison.
The blue is different, but there are different shades of blue on different Diana cameras. And you can see how shiny and new it is. It weighs about the same, but it does feel slightly more solid. Maybe not as brittle? The plastic just feels stronger - and it probably is. It better be, because (first complaint) the strap is already attached to the camera. I don't use the straps on the originals. The strap loops just break off, like fast. These better hold. I don't want to cut the strap off, but we'll have to see how it goes. Plus, the straps are all ugly and in the way when I set them on the shelf. Am I being difficult? Maybe, but I don't like bits of crap (other than the cameras themselves) all over the place.
The back is different.
Ripped that counter window straight from the Holga. It is improved, though. Slides from one setting to another nicely. You don't bruise your fingertips like with the Holga. And why the multiple settings? Because of this:
Nice little masks. The first is to give you the same size photo as the original Diana, the second is slightly larger so the photos overlap slightly - continuous panorama with this one. Without the mask is just a larger photo, like the Holga. 12 shots instead of 16. More vignette. You can check out photos on flickr. I haven't used mine yet, obviously. I'll probably use the regular mask, as I like the Diana look...but we'll see how it goes when I've run a few rolls.
Okay, my opinion on the masks. The edges look waaay too sharp. Part of the fun of the fun of the Diana is the wonky edging, usually askew or slightly rounded. I may have to modify that a bit at some point. And I may never use the pano mask, as once it is in, you have to use the entire roll. I may try it once, but it doesn't really look like my bag. It would be fantastic if you could switch masks mid-roll (without going in a dark room and pulling it all apart, etc.). Impossible, I know, but it's a nice fantasy. So, it will probably stay in my drawers. I mean drawer. Still, it's a nice idea and I'm glad it was included, just because.
Inside the camera, a few differences. First, the spool holders.
I can see the reasoning behind the change. The originals were brittle. Hell, That's my Snappy's main issue. I have to hold the broken pieces in place with one hand while I advance the spool and try to slide the back on. I've done it a couple hundred times, now, so it is second nature (I was noticing today how worn out my Snappy is looking. I use it a LOT). Funny thing is, though, with the new flexible spool holders - you have to load the film exactly like I do with my Snappy. They have almost zero ability to hold your film in place while you load the film! They barely touch the spools, and are pushed in place by the backing. So the film slides all over the place while you are loading it, and the spool holes don't line up with the holders while you are trying to put the back on. I can see how it would be tough for a newbie. I got it in a less than a minute, but I can see exactly how it would make people flip out trying to get the film to stay in place and not end up crooked and binding when you try to wind it. So it's a better design with faults. It should have been simple enough to make the holders have a bit more...I don't even know how to describe it. They should have something that reaches farther into the spool hole so it all stays in place. Even a centimeter more would have helped.
Okay, enough of that. To the front. It has the usual, same as the Diana. Though the barrel is longer.
Has an instant and bulb setting. Has three apertures and a Pinhole setting (more on that in a few). Nice thing about the aperture setting - it clicks in place. No more half of a metal plate in your frame, as with most originals, the aperture plate just kind of floats where it wants to. I've removed it from a couple of mine, and tape it in place on the others. Okay, the pinhole function. Pretty cool! I used to make paper pinholes, and have done Polaroid pinholes, but not with film. Just been lazy about it. This is a nice feature that I can try on a few shots without using the entire roll to experiment with. The front of the camera twists and pulls off. Simple as that!
There are no suggested pinhole times in the instruction book, so I'll just have to guess. I'd really like to try the pinhole setting with the lens on, too. Maybe leave it overnight and see what happens. Bea does a fantastic job doing this with her pinholes.
Okay, I'm getting tired of typing. Only a little bit more. Hmmm...what else? Oh, there is a little piece of plastic that I forgot to take a shot of that hangs from the strap loop. It slides into the shutter release to hold the shutter open. It's a bit fumbly to get it in place and I will probably jiggle the camera a lot doing so, but it's an interesting idea. I also noticed that the shutter and shutter plate seem to be made out of plastic. The original was all metal. The shutter mechanism is very different from the original, and is actually the first time I've seen the workings behind the shutter plate. Obviously because of the pinhole function. I'm curious about the long-term holdupability of the camera. Those metal plates last forever, even as the rest of the camera falls apart. Plastic will wear out with repeated use. And those flexible spool holders? Will they become brittle someday and snap off? I guess I'm thinking in terms of the originals being up to 40 years old, and will the Diana+ last that long. It's probably not intended to...but neither was the original.
I guess I've run out of things to say. Been typing for a couple hours! Man, what a camera nerd. I'll probably go out and shoot tomorrow, and do some duplicate shots with both the Diana+ and my Snappy (because it's my favorite). See how the results compare. I have a somewhat beat-up Stellar coming soon (I like them dirty!). Hope it's a winner! Also thinning out my camera collection, too. I have so many and I don't use most of them. If the output isn't interesting, or I have duplicates, Ebay all the way. Check back soon for my shots from the Diana+! Check it out...self portrait in a Diana+ lens. Oooh. Gravenhurst. More good blogging music. Too late.