my life in the land down under

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Friday Focus: Diana

John tells me that his first camera was either a Diana or Diana clone. ¬†Like me, he was interested in photography from an early age. His parents gave him the Diana when he was about 9 or 10, thinking it was a toy. When he realised you could actually take photos with it, they bought him some B&W film. He doesn’t remember what happened to the camera or the photos – perhaps we’ll find them in an old album someday, who knows.

So when we saw this camera for sale on TradeMe some time ago we were keen to own it. The auction was due to close while I was at work, but I found out later that John was watching; when my bid was exceeded he bid higher and eventually won it for me – he paid more than I had intended, but how could I complain? ūüôā

This is definitely¬†not a precision camera. After spending some time searching on the internet I couldn’t find agreement on aperture settings, and apparently the shutter speed varies. The Diana is known for vignetting and light leaks, and many recommend taping it up with duct tape to prevent film fogging. To start with, I didn’t want to mess mine up with tape, so was keeping it in a light-proof black plastic bag between shots. So far I’ve not had major problems; I still have one film to develop though. It’s also capable of multiple exposures as there’s no shutter lock.

The Camera:

Introducing the Diana

In case you need a reminder to use 120 film

The plastic strap is stiff and tends to get in the way

Base of camera showing exposure settings

The Stats:

Camera Name: Diana (no. 151)
Where Made: Hong Kong (by Great Wall Plastic Factory according to Wikipedia)
Year of Production:¬†1960’s – 1970’s
Serial Number: unmarked
Film Type / Neg Size:¬†Takes 16 4×4 cm frames on¬†120 (medium format) film.
Lens: Single-element plastic lens
Shutter: unmarked
Shutter Speeds: apparently variable between 1/30 – 1/200 sec, more often 1/50 or 1/100sec
Apertures: Sun / Cloudy / Overcast (maybe f16, f6.3, f4.5 or f19, f13, f11 – depends on the model and which website you read!)
Exposure Meter: none
Focusing: Zone focusing with settings of 4-6ft, 6-12ft, 12ft-infinity.

The Photos:

These are from the first film I put through the Diana. I wanted a range of subject material, so went for a walk in the park, visited a old cemetery, the beach, and the boardwalk around our local estuary; all places with great photographic potential. I like the dreamlike effect the Diana gives, and the novelty of the square format. Composition is a challenge as I’m far more familiar with a rectangular format. There are some great examples of square compositions online: one I came across recently is Electrolite by Shannon Richardson. There are many many photos archived on this site; so far I’ve barely scratched the surface. Its also worth doing a search for toy camera websites.

Miniature railway lines

Picnic table


Another tree (actually it might have been the other side of the same one, I forget)


Estuary boardwalk

Yet another tree

Seagull on the beach (yes, that tiny white thing on the waters edge is a seagull)

Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction

Friday Focus: Empire Scout



Friday Focus: Empire Scout

Everyone needs a camera for good photography, so who could resist this one?

Great advertising!

Let me introduce the Empire Scout.

I acquired this model a few years ago and so far have run two or three films though it; I’ve posted a few examples from the first film below.

Interestingly, while I was searching online for info on this camera, I found that the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa in Wellington) have one in their collection. It must be good! ūüôā

The Camera:

The Empire Scout boasts a fine polished optical lens

The back of the camera has a red window that shows the frame number when a film is loaded

The top of the camera, showing flash / rangefinder shoe (?) and film advance lever

Exposure can be adjusted for Cloudy, Hazy, or Bright conditions, and the shutter speed set to Bulb or Instant

The Stats:

Camera Name: Empire Scout – model 316
Where Made: Hong Kong
Year of Production: 1960’s
Serial Number: unknown
Film Type / Neg Size: Takes twelve 6×6 cm frames on¬†120 (medium format) film
Lens:¬†f8 ‘Fine Polished Optical Lens’ (plastic)
Shutter: unmarked
Shutter Speeds: B (bulb), I (instant) – possibly 1/60 sec.
Apertures: Bright / Hazy/ Cloudy settings (may equate to f22, f16, f8)
Exposure Meter: none
Focusing: Zone focusing with settings of 5-8ft, 20-25ft, infinity.

The Photos:




Palm tree

I was pleasantly surprised by the results. What do you think – does the Empire Scout live up to its claim as a camera for good photography?

Click on the links below for my previous posts on vintage cameras:

Friday Focus: Introduction