Diana Mini Review : Ultra compact abet challenging fun

Irony shot on instagram from 2013
Diana Mini ironically captured on instagram. In classic Blue black

The Diana Mini has been one of Lomography Society International (LSI) best-selling products and is a gorgeous re-imaging of their simple 120 film Diana F+ in mini form taking 35mm film. But like its big brother, it is a camera of 2 halves good and bad. But do those halves balance out in this toy class manual shooter ?

Setting Noir
Kingholm Quay 2014. Diana Mini with Agfaphoto APX100

Lookwise this is a tiny retro styled camera that is styled on the Diana F+ (in turn IMHO styles on the Agfa Isoly) and looks all the more gorgeous in compact form. It seems better made too and despite being made of plastic too feels more robust. Like the F+ you can buy it in a range of colour styling. Ergonomically the shutter button sits more sensible and also has a cable release thread point. This is a  huge advantage over its big brother.

Diana Mini Specs

  • Lens:  24mm 1:8 ¹
  • Focus: Zone
  • Metering: None
  • Aperture: f/8-11
  • Shutter: 1/60 + B²
  • EV 100asa: 12-13 ²
  • Filter-Thread:  none
  • Battery : PX675
¹ focal length varies with frame. 24x24mm = 30mm  & 12x24mm  = 35mm.
² based on LSI figures see below.

However its diminutive size means some compromises. The camera has only 2 apertures settings (sunny f/16 and cloudy f/8) and has a fixed shutter speed (N) officially around 1/60  & a bulb setting option. It isn’t a system camera so no interchangeable lens etc. It also shares the proprietary F+ flash mount with the Diana F+.  Although you can a the time of typing get a an adaptor for £6 + P&P from LSI to use standard hot shoe flashes , worth noting the camera bundled with the F+ flash will save you a fortune over buying them separately. It has a built in mask selector for either 24x24mm square masks (gives 36+ shots on 36exp roll) or 12x24mm (72+ shots on 36exp roll). Most folk recommend you don’t switch mid roll with this. I’ve stuck to the 24×24 and am happy with the results. The viewfinder has lines to suggest where that smaller mask would lie.

Window Kiss
Diana Mini with Agfaphoto vista plus 200. 2013

Loading can be a bit of a pain and makes up threads on several forums. Worth watching the some online video  like this one and be aware folk have knackered the take up spool easily

Stanley Mill
Stanley Mill, 2013. Diana Mini with Agfaphoto Vista Plus 200

The camera on paper has a 4 zone focus like the F+.  Most folk are of the opinion that focus doesn’t do very much with the exception of the 0.6m (worth noting you have to gently turn the lens until it clicks in to this setting). I’d certainly agree so from my experience. Focus is pretty off to say the least and certainly gives the soft focus vintage style. It is pretty  soft  (not surprising given it’s a plastic lens).  The apertures of f/8-11 don’t help here.

Minions
2013. Diana Mini with Fuji Superia 200

Like its big brother, the Diana Mini manages to break the laws of physics. LSI recommends the camera is ideally used with 100 asa film to match the weather symbols but if what LSI say are its specs its upper EV is  13 with a 1/60 shutter f/11 aperture so actually 2 steps over exposed for shooting in bright light (f/16 and 1/100 would be what the Sunny 16 rule would suggest). Many folk use 200-400asa which would make and there is a good discussion on Flickr about this. I have found 200asa to 400asa  works pretty well for me on the West end of the Scottish English border.

Sitting at Carlisle Cricket Club
Carlisle 2013. Diana Mini with Lomography 400CN

The Diana mini results are more variable than any other basic camera that I’ve ever used. If you want a more reliable and sharper toy shooter can I suggest the Halina 1000 (or even a color optical lens camera like the Barclaycard/Time magazine plastick) but when the Diana mini pulls of a good shot it really is a joy. This isn’t the camera to take to your best friend’s wedding but more for mucking around with. Try it and you’ll be smiling at the end of the day.

Garden Puzzle
2014. Diana Mini with Kodak BW400CN

 

Purchase wise at the time of writing LSI were selling for £49GBP for the classic blue-black version without flash. Over on Amazon it was going for £36 and you can pick up on eBay for about 20 quid.

Alternatives

  • Halina 1000 – Simple plastic camera that takes quite good shots
  • Recesky DIY TLR – a all plastic TLR you build yerself
  • Color Optical lens cameras – Plastic 70’s & 80′  giveaways
  • Halina Panoramic – Plastic with no controls other than shutter

Helpful links

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