A few years back I bought my wife a Diana complete with all of the accessories. At the time I knew nothing about film and had no particular interest in it. I now can see that it’s actually a pretty daunting camera to use if you’re not used to film. If fiddling around changing the 120 back for a 35mm back isn’t hard enough, it also has a number of other points that in my opinion make it a tough camera for any beginner to film!
- It’s very easy to forget to take the lens cap off, as its not an SLR so the viewfinder bears no relation to what is actually going into the lens
- For the same reason, it’s guesswork trying to work out what is in focus
- The camera is designed to use 120 film, so when using the 35mm there’s considerable issues with parallax error (meaning what you see in the viewfinder isn’t actually what comes out on the film).
- The camera doesn’t stop you from taking more than one image without winding it on. Therefore it’s easy to forgot if you wound it on or not last time. I played it safe and did it anyway so had lots of blank negatives!
- The little toggle on the back that selects between ‘Normal’ and ‘Panoramic’ mode is easily changed.
However, some of the issues are also strengths…
- Most film cameras stop you from double exposing. The Diana lets you do it as much as you like, so it gives you creative control!
- It’s fun not knowing what is going to come out on film (most of the time)
- The different lenses available are a lot of fun, particularly for someone like me who doesn’t own any other lenses for any of my other cameras.
I’ve had some nice results with my Diana using 120 film (see previous posts), but this time I wanted to try out the 35mm back. My wife tried this out once before with colour film and the results ended up being very washed out and disappointing, but I read one user say that it’s much better with black and white film so I thought I’d give it a go. I used my trusty Kentmere 400 which is cheap as chips, easy to develop and doesn’t let me down.
I read somewhere online that it’s best to use the 58mm super wide angle lens to compensate for the issues with using the 35mm film, so that’s what I used on most of these shots here (I think).
First one – taken in a friend’s garden, in nice sunny conditions. Quite pleased with this. I developed and printed all of these myself in my new darkroom.
This was taken in the same place using the Macro lens. I’ve never used this before but am quite pleased with the results. I was trying to take a picture of the flower rather than the leaf, illustrating the problems with parallax, but still it’s quite a nice picture.
Next picture was taken using the Splitzer, a device which allows you to portion off the sections of the image that get exposed onto the film. It’s with these kinds of gadgets that the Diana really comes into its own, allowing you to experiment in ways that most film cameras forbid! Here’s an amalgamation of my wife’s face and mine together..
Lastly, here’s a double exposure of a tractor on the beach at Sheringham, Norfolk. I walked around it to get the double exposure from different angles, and I’m quite pleased with the results. It printed up nicely in the darkroom too. Shame the pesky parallax issue cut off the top of the tractor but hey ho, you live and learn!
Not bad for the first try with the Diana. I’m excited to experiment with it a bit more. If I can only get on top of that pesky parallax issue..