About a week ago, I picked up a Diana Mini. I was excited by the prospect of a fun toy camera and neat films, plus her retro aesthetic appealed to my anachronistic nature. I can’t help but laugh at myself for this purchase since she essentially creates Hipstamatic shots, and I was not particularly into Hipstamatic. Several rolls of film have gone through the Diana Mini while in my hands, and I feel like I can give some sort of a review about her now.
The Good: The Diana Mini is a fun camera to use. Every time I look at her I can’t help but giggle–she’s so tiny and cute! That sense of fun shows up in her images, which have an obvious style that is easily recognized. She’s got an adjustable focus, allowing you to have a bit more personality than in some other plastic cameras I’ve used that have a fixed focus. It’s a nice idea to have the ability to shoot both square and rectangular shots, allowing for some diversity in your images.
The Bad: The Diana Mini is one fussy lady. Focusing is difficult to manipulate (and I often forget to adjust it for each shot), after the first role her advancing became tricky and I got a lot of accidental double exposures as well as chopped off shots because even though I set the camera to shoot square it actually shot rectangular, and the lens cap falls off constantly (it’s taken me one week to lose it, and I’m one of the few photographers I know who still has the plastic bit for their SLR hot shoe which shows I don’t lose much). Because of the problems with advancing and sizes, I would need to sort out a set-up for scanning my own film if I wanted to shoot seriously with the Diana since the image placement on the film has become so sporadic and uneven.
The Conclusion: I like my Diana Mini, but I don’t love her. When I’m going somewhere wacky, I’ll bring her along to get some quirky shots, but I would never trust her to capture the image I intended the way I intended it, so she’ll never be top of the list for me.