Lomography Diana Mini

7 Cult Classics To watch out for in January Auctions

With the festive period upon us, it is easy to forget that the Canny Photographer’s auction season is about to begin. Once the mince pies foils and empty port bottles head off for recycling, many folk decide now is the time to clear out stuff and the period up to Easter tends to feature a surplus of thing appearing in auctions or second hand sites while many buyers are actually of the game trying to pay off the festive overdraft

What we have here are 7 fun to use cameras that have a cult following that you may benefit from this. Some are still made and will be generated on auctions as unwanted prezzies, others stopped production decades ago. With a bit of luck none should cost you more than £25 and many will be a lot less. I’ve set the bar at that level and I’ve also excluded high end cult classics like the elite AF compacts, SLR and Rangefinders.

Have a look at the list. If you think I’ve missed a better cult classic add it in the comments

Lomography Diana F+

Diana F+ Edelweiss Variant
Diana F+  in Edelweiss Variant guise – better known in classic blue black as the mini below

On Xmas morning  a fair number of these will be turning up under Xmas trees and withing a week or 2 a fair number of those will end up eBay etc BNIB. Lomography’s 120 film plastic number is modern classic with a large cult following despite its toy class credentials and oozes retro style as well. You can decide if it was a freespirited move on behalf of those Zany Austrians to bring back a overlooked classic or canny market analysis of the serendipitous success of Holga. It has outlived the Holga and although for my money the 120 Plastic lensed Holga just nudges it in base configuration in the image taken, the Diana is more flexible with its interchangeable lens options and fantastic retro styling.

Hill St Blues I
Dumfries, 2015. Diana F+ with Kodak Expired T400CN.

Buying it new with flash from Lomography will set £79 +P&P but even in the pre Christmas auctions you can pick same BNIB for about £20 less and a used Diana F+ can be bought for £20 in less popular colours. Expect these prices to tumble mid Jan as unwanted Xmas presents flood the market – best deals on the unloved colours and try to get a flash set.

Read the full review here

Not quite Your Cuppa but near then try …..
  • Holga 12ON – Pretty much launched and cornered the toy plastic cam market before those Austrians got on board. Despite ceasing production still some around but go for more,
  • Original Diana Clone – 1960’s -70’s HK made cameras that were given away as promo items or at fairs. The inspiration for the F+ and sells for around the same but can be shoddy
  • Agfa Isoly series – If the F+ was a Hommage to the the original Diana, well the Isoly series was where the inspiration began. Better made and with much better clinically lenses weirdly cheaper to buy than its imitators

Olympus Trip 35

Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35

Arguably the best known 35mm compact ever made as well as a design classic and capable of taking incredibly sharp shots. You’e not likely to see that much more available but the decrease in competition will be a boon.  Over 6 million made and pretty reliable so going for the found old camera for the £10-20 mark can be a reasonable gamble. A bit more will get you one tested  a varying degree of CLA.

Xmas Lights I
Carlisle town centre 31st Dec 2013. Olympus Trip 35 Kodak BW400CN (C41)

Razor sharp Zone focus optics and with a simple but effective battery free exposure system and killer classic retro looks this is one of the most beloved camera ever made and still for me the benchmark to measure other compacts against. I’d argue if there was one working camera you should try in your film lifetime it oughta be a Trip.

Read the full review here

Near the mark but…
  • Fujica 35 Automagic – quirky but loveable late 50’s auto camera
  • Chinon 35 – Rare but fantastical sharp scale focus 70’s P&S
  • Olympus PEN EE series – Half frame siblings of the Trip
  • FED 50 – the mutant lovechild of the LC-A and Trip 35

Halina Micro 110

Halina Micro 110
Halina Micro 110 with a pound coin

Although Lomography deserved Kudos for re-surging the 110 format, this is arguable the toy 110 you wanna buy starting out. It is a tiny box camera where the film will stick out out of its sides with fixed focus, shutter and aperture. But on a good day it can produce some nice images. Not quite the 110 VUWS but not far off and gaining a bit of a cult status.

The Digger

For a tiny pile of plastic well though out although I’m not sure how well it’ll last (many on sale seem to be as new in box). Expect to pay under a tenner and although the market isn’t likely to flood in January – the paucity of buyers will help.

Read the Full Review here

Other 110 mini wonders to consider
  • Halina 110 STB – dual lensed simple flash cam
  • Lomography Diana Baby 110 – The diana gets even smaller and comes with interchangeable lenses but pricey

Olympus XA2

Olympus XA2
Olympus XA2 open & closed

Olympus’s 2nd appearance on this list is arguably the spiritual successor to the Trip 35. The XA series  was a marvel of ultra compact engineering but it was the pseudo zone focus XA2 that probably shifted the most units and this means it can be sought out for just a few quid. Many film minded folk still carry one as their pocket camera and it has a cult status. Sadly despite that it weirdly plays second fiddle in the sales value to the LC-A despite the XA2 being a clinically better camera.

Mid Babycino
Butlins, Skegness. 22nd July, 2014. Olympus XA2 with Kodak Ultra 400 at box speed.

Although the base XA2 is widely available there is some collectability value to the whole 5 model  XA series. IMHO silly money goes on the rarer XA4 macro focus model often leading it to sell for more than the brilliant original XA rangefinder. Main niggle is the membrane shutter button and you’ll have to live with the proprietary flash mount.

For reviews see here

Grabbed you but not enough. Try these
  • Lomo LC-A – the Lomo with all its strengths and flaws. Just be prepared to pay for it due to the hipster hype.
  • Olympus mju I –  from AF series that replaced the XA, this compact fixed focal length number is the proto elite camera and a relative bargain.
  • Cosina CX-1 & 2 – Like the looks of the LC-A but would rather have the clinical shooting of the XA2 – then look no further. Slight pricey due to the LC-A link but still cheaper weirdly than a LC-A

Lomography Diana Mini

Lomography Diana Mini
Lomography Diana Mini – my true Love hate cam

Again another Lomography product that you benefit from being unwanted Christmas gifts. The Diana mini on one level is a an incredibly gorgeous titchy version of the the Diana F+ that shoots 35mm and feels better made. On another it can be the most challenging camera you’ve ever owned.

Stanley Mill
Stanley Mill, Stanley, Perthshire. July 2013. Taken on Diana Mini on Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

It’s lens is not great and famously the focusing is pretty pointless but on a good day it can produce wonderful retro square or half frame rectangular images. Although the lens is interchangeable there is a wide range of accessories and this tiny thing comes with a cable tread point. It sells often for a bonker premium (on eBay the Diana F+ is often way cheaper) and pre Christmas auctions reflected that. But in the next few weeks expect the unwanted presents to go to auction…

For full review see here

No quite your tichy plastic fun then see here
  • Holga 135BC – Now out of production but still available attempt at brining the Holga magic to 35mm. It doesn’t quite succeed and pretty dull in looks department if you ignore the myriad of colour choices but a worth toy cam. Bit pricey but hey
  • The DIY TLR – sold under various names for around a tenner, this literally is what it says it is and although a bit cheap with wonky lens and awful viewing screen it is a lotta fun.
  • Color Optical Lens Cam – The names are legion but these cameras were produced in the 70s til 90’s all with  a 50mm Japan made color optical lens. Best known for give aways like the Time or Barclaycard Camera but also infamous as soundlikes intended to confuse folks (any one for a Nikkon or Olympic). Actually quite fun but prone to fall apart very easily

Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim (VUWS) & Clones

Superheadz Wide & Slim
Superheadz Wide & Slim a current clone of the Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim

AKA the poor man’s Lomo this is the killer plastic lensed ultra compact that has developed a massive following. Although just a basic fixed focus, shutter and aperture box, the lens is a killer despite being plastic

Fixed focus Equinity V
At the Kelpies, Near Falkirk on  Superheadz Wide and Slim (aka VUWS) with Agafphoto Vista Plus 200.

The original VUWS was made by Sunpet for Vivitar and purportedly intended as a freebie give away and not intended to be commerical sold although later it ended up in poundshops a decade or so ago. Thankfully Sunpet still sells it and a host of companies resell VUWS clones most notably Superheadz. You’d expect to pay £20-30 for a new ‘un but orginal VUWS turn up now and again. Xmas prezzie  resales will be smaller than Diana or Diana mini but will have an impact on prices.

See here for full review

Not quite your fixed focus plastic slice of fun the look here
  • Halina 3000 – Retro styled shooter from the 70’s akin to the color optical lens cams but better made and better lensed
  • Lomography La Sardina – Retrostyled wide plastic shooter with the usual lomography massive range of colours
  • Goko UF – rare but legendary sharp plastic lensed fixed everything shooter with flash. Perhaps just too clinically good to compare to the VUWS

Halina Panorama/Ansco Pix Panorama

Halina Panorama
Halina Panorama a fixed focus 35mm simple camera

Weirdly Halina manage a second mention here with a pretty basic plastic cam based on Kodak’s panorama format (luckily you can still get processed in any lab that does 35mm). It shouldn’t work but for some reason it does and has a cult status. Everything is fixed so only a shooter for reasonable conditions and you’ll need to judge what to load (400 ISO probably the safest)

Snow on Whitesands
Dumfries 29th Jan. Halina Panorama with expired (2014) Kodak BW400CN.

The panorama format basically gives a wide screen format to a 35mm frame meaning the top and bottom of the frame is lost. You can snap the mask out and use this camera full frame if you want. Everything is fixed with a 28mm lens but it still manages not awful images. If you really need to use flash there’s the Panorama F with built in flash.

For full review click here. Expect to pay well under a fiver

Not quite your thang ? Then try

  • Disposable camera – Stick to the brand names (Kodak, Fujifilm and Ilford) and they are quite fun. Cheap and easy to use and not such a loss if left on the train – just not (easily) reloadable
  • LC-A Wide – expensive but impressively wide Lomo shooter with full metering and bells and whistles and is part of the LC-A Cult
  • VUWS – see above

Kodak Brownie No 2

Papa's got a brand new pre war box

Introduced the year Queen Victoria died, the No 2 was hot on the heels of the original Brownie and gave us 120 medium format film making it the oldest mass market camera in the world you can use without tweaking. Incredibly simple but bomb proof design means that the later metal versions are widely available and still usable today. Brownies have cult following and this perhaps is the cheapest entry point as well as a big slice of film history.

Vintage on da Hood
Kodak Brownie No 2 with kodak Portra 160 (NC). 2015

Scarily it is more advanced in features than some on this list offering a choice of 3 apertures and the option to switch to what we’d now call bulb mode. The images from its fixed focus simple lens has a classic vintage signature. Millions were made in 34 year run and there is a collectibility factor for some of the rare versions including the fantastic Art Deco Beau Brownie No. 2. The standard black sells for relative peanuts however. Downside is 8 shots a roll.

Like the models from Olympus and a Halina, there won’t necessarily be more after Xmas but competition will drop. Grab a slice of history for somewhere between a quid and a tenner just don’t buy a No 2A by mistake as takes defunct film.

To learn more see here

Alternatives with cult feel
  • Barnet Ensign Ful-Vue – Gorgeously designed but simple box camera, this was a post WWII curvy re-imaging of the earlier Ful-Vue pseudo TLR box camera. Highly collectable but a common black one can be sourced reasonably cheaply. Massive finder but IMHO not as good lensed as the Kodak
  • Halina Prefect/Viceroy– 2 similar pseudo TLR with fixed focus. Actually not bad lensed for what they are. The Viceroy had 2 frame masks allowing for optional half frame shooting. Gorgeous styled but simple

That’s my 7 but what would you include ?



4 thoughts on “7 Cult Classics To watch out for in January Auctions”

  1. The Diana Mini and Holga BC annoy me to no end – cameras that are designed to get bad photos on purpose aren’t worth my time. As much as I don’t like my XA2 I will not deny it takes great photos – it’s just not fun to use. Now the UWS is a must have camera.

    1. The Diana Mini is strange one Al. It is capable of greatness but those moments are few and far between. I’ve included the XA2 as it has a cult following but also the fact it is cheap as chips. I’d still grab my LC-A over it but I know it would be more consistent and clinically sharp. The VUWS as you say is a must have

  2. My thoughts are similar in a way to Al’s – these days I’m reluctant to spend money on a camera that even in optimal conditions will only take mediocre photographs. Especially when a decent SLR can be had for £10-20 or even less. But yes if you are looking specifically for one of the above models it’s a good time to seek one out!

    1. After New Year the market is a buyers paradise as lots of folk unload stuff and the number of folk actually buying tails off until a Jan payday. It’s even arguably a better time to look for SLRs as fewer competitors – but bear in mind more pro sellers know it’s a dead zone. Leaving the mini aside though Dan the Diana F+ and Holga are actually quite good for MF shooting and the Isoly mentioned can be really sharp as a 120 viewfinder especially in the higher specc’ed models.

      And as I say the Trip 35 is a must try 35mm

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