Thursday, May 24, 2007

Diana, the camera.

Diana, probably the second most 'famous' of the toy cameras after the Holga (and maybe the Lomo LC-A, but I don't really consider that a crappy camera...well, I do, but for different reasons). There is quite a bit of information about Diana and her clones on the web, but I've never really talked about it specifically. My Snappy, which is a Diana clone, is my favorite camera by far. I love my Fujipets and I loves me some Holga, but my Snappy is my buddy, my pal, my camera compadre. This is my current family:

Two 'true' Dianas, two Banners (one in pieces) and a Snappy. The Snappy was my first, shipped from Australia for 35 bucks. I think I had only used my Holga a couple times previously, so I was still new to the toycam thing. It isn't my favorite because it was the just produces the best results. Every Diana behaves differently. They are CHEAP, so the various imperfections produce various results. Hell, if the Snappy wasn't so great, I'd stop using it, because it is a pain in the ass.

As you can see, the spool "feet" don't stay in, so I have to hold them in while I wind the film and stick the back on. I've done it enough that it's second nature, but when I'm in the desert and it's 115 F, I've come close to flipping out a few times. And actually flipped out a few times. This is the camera I've mentioned in earlier posts with the crack, so I had to take apart the front and tape it all up to lose the massive leak I was getting. A lot of work? Maybe, but it is fun to use, and I love the end product.

One of the chief complaints about toy cameras is that people rely on the effects to make the shot. While the effects certainly are a big part of the shot, I think EVERYTHING we do in photography is an effect to produce a pleasing shot. Toning? A trick. Macro? A trick. Hell, composing your shot is just a trick. Even not composing your shot is a trick. But a good photograph is a good photograph, and a bad photograph is a bad photograph. BUT!!! Sometimes my good photograph is your bad photograph, and blah blah blah! I see stuff that everyone loves, and oftentimes I yawn. I've taken plenty of bad shots with my toy cameras, at least what I think are bad shots (I usually scan maybe 4 out of 16 shots on a roll). And some people think my good shots are bad shots. This could go on forever. I just do what I like.
This is a shot I took with the Snappy that I don't like. It just screams ugly and uninteresting to me. I have tons of photos like this.

It doesn't matter how much blur there is, or how leaky it is, it's just kinda blech (though I bet someone likes it). But, I love this shot.

It's balanced, and the blur adds a kind of vintage, lonely feeling to it. Would it have been a decent shot without the Diana blur? Maybe, maybe not, but I work with the blur and use it. I don't rely on the blur to make the shot, but I control the blur to make the shot!
Anyway, I started ranting there. Time to eat. In the next few posts, I'll cover the Banner, which I've talked about before. A truly cheap camera. If they sold cameras for 50 cents next to the gumballs and Homies, it would be the Banner. And I'll also compare my two Dianas. One has a respectable blur, the other actually takes pretty straightforward shots, comparatively. Hasta whenever.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Gaah! Back at last...

Had a rough semester, didn't do anything except school, work, study...and break up with my girlfriend. I should theoretically have plenty of time to work on this blog. Haven't taken a lot of photos this year, but I did pick up a few cameras to talk about in future posts. One being a Polaroid 195, seen here next to my trusty Square Shooter.

The timer was broken, so I did a little timer mod using another, easier to use Polaroid timer.

A moderately difficult camera to use, mostly because it is completely manual, requiring a light meter (well, I do actually guess a lot, but film is too expensive to keep that up for long). I got an old Polaroid light meter and glued it to the bottom of my Lomo color flash that stopped working after one month. Crappy piece of plastic crap. Uhhh, I could attach it to the flash shoe. Also, it weighs a couple or three pounds. The camera, not the meter.

The camera tends to overexpose when using the meter, so I've adjusted a bit when shooting. It has a super sharp lens, but requires manual focus with a slightly funky viewfinder focus deal. Takes some getting used to. Here is a shot using Type 665, ex-girlfriend legs.

One thing I REALLY like about it is the aperture, which goes down to 3.8, which for a Polaroid camera is HUGE. So that means I can take shots inside without a flash with less than a second for exposure, while an automatic Polaroid would often require up to 30 seconds of trying to hold steady. This allows for indoor creativity without a flash. Also, like other Polaroid cameras, you can take multiple exposures on one sheet.

And, of course, I like to scan the goop side...

I'll post some more from this camera soon! Also picked up a Kowa Kid, and the same camera with the name "Super-Lark Zen-99" (127 cameras). I'll talk about that soon. I've shot a couple rolls, but The Ekfe film I recently received was in horrible condition. I've had 50-year-old film in better shape. It was brittle, stuck to the paper backing, and was just bad film. I need to make a film cutter so I can use cheapo 120 film instead of paying $4 for garbage. Anyway, more on that soon!

On a side note, someone posted this comment:

"hi, i'm wondering if its the same (regards to expired film) with kodak advantix?
i usually use polaroid land cameras, lomos, holgas, sx-70's, etc so i'm not familiar with the more recent kinds of film... you look like you know a lot about film &things, and i just today found a pack of expired (2003) advantix film, do you think it would have any results, worth shooting?
thanks so much,

Dear Naomi (I say, because I feel like Erma Bombeck), I'd say that film from 2003, unless it was ill-treated, left outside in the heat or in a car, soaked in water, whatever, would look no different than new film. Maybe a slight color shift or a little bit more grain, but it would probably look perfectly fine. Which is disappointing if perfectly fine isn't what you are looking for. But it also means that you can get really good deals on expired film that is probably as good as new, particularly if it was kept well, as most camera shops store film in a fridge. Thanks for asking!

Oh, also for future posts, I purchased a Nova c-41 developing kit to develop my own home color. Pretty nifty, Shifty. Here's a couple examples from my first roll, shot with my Snappy using Ektar 25. I have another roll to develop tomorrow. Just desert shots, but maybe something nice will come out of it.

Well, I have a pressing engagement with Final Fantasy XII. Oh the life of the newly single.