April 17, 2008

Diana+ Shooting Tips

I've had a few questions in the comments of my last Diana+ post so I thought I'd throw out a few tips for shooting with this camera. It can be intimidating to use medium format film and it definitely takes a little trial-and-error to figure out what works best, but here is a bit of info that will hopefully be of help:

• This camera uses 120 (or medium format) film. Depending on which frame you use inside the camera it will either take 12 or 16 exposures.
• Because this camera does not have an on/off switch it is very easy for the shutter to be released accidentally (like if it's in your purse and hits something - happens to me all the time). For this reason always leave the lens cap on when you are not using it. That way nothing will be exposed if the shutter gets released because no light is coming in.
• I always advance my film after a shot even if I'm not going to take another one right away. That way I don't forget and accidentally make a double exposure. Though that can be a "happy accident" sometimes!
• I usually use negative film because I think it's a bit less expensive to develop than slide film.
• My favorite film right now is Kodak NC 160. This a good OUTDOOR film, but does not work well inside.
• If you want to shoot inside with this camera I recommend using at least 400 speed film and making sure you still have good natural light.
• I've found the best photos I've made are in bright sunlight with the sun behind me to get a rich blue sky.
• To save money I never have prints made right away. Instead I just have the film processed and ask for low res scans on a CD. These scans are suitable for printing 4x4 prints, but if I want a larger print of a particular image I can always have an enlargement made later.
• I use a local professional lab because I get so excited to see my photos that I want them back as soon as possible, but there are some good labs you can mail your film to if there is not a lab that processes medium format film in your area.

Tips for loading film:
• See if you can get an expired foll from your local photo supply store, then practice loading with that roll until you get comfortable to use a new, unexposed roll.
• Always load film in subdued light, or better yet -
• If you have a room in your house that is very dark (closet, laundry room, etc..) preferably with no windows it is sometimes a good idea to load your film in there to avoid light leaks. It's also helpful in case you are having issues and have to try a couple times to get the film loaded correctly. It's hard to do it without being able to see, but it can save wasting money since film is not cheap these days.
• When you have the film loaded it should be tight across the back so it will wind correctly. If it's loose you could end up exposing your film when you take it out of your camera, thus ruining all your pretty pictures.

Diana+ cameras are sold in a few places:

You can also get inspired here:
Diana+ photos on flickr

Hope this helps get your cameras out of their pretty boxes and into the world. Don't be discouraged if your first few rolls are nothing to post on your blog about. It might take some practice, but the feeling I get when I use this camera and see what comes from it is magical. Yes magical. It's like these photos come with built-in nostalgia. I can already see myself looking at them in 20 years and feeling a rush of warm memories from the days when we were young and just starting our family. Film just does that, I think.

Have fun!


Katherine said...

thanks for the tips, raya! i received my camera a week or so ago, and the first batch of photos was AWFUL!! i'm just finishing up my second attempt, and am sure that some of your advice will help this novice get better results.

amy said...

thank you! i just borrowed a friend's holga to play around with (close to diana - right??) and i am glad for the tips! thank you!!!

bettyninja said...

Really thanks for the tips. I am off to buy a diana that I saw at a store (the remade version- the newer ones) this weekend. I am so excited. These tips couldn't have come at a better time

mary said...

Great tips - thanks! Why am I so scared to simply LOAD the darn thing?!

Dad, said...

Hey Raya, with all your spare time you should consider starting a photography only blog! Seriously that is some great and even technical advice regarding your new plastic toy. (more Baker photos :-) )

Nicole & Amanda said...
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Nicole & Amanda said...
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Nicole & Amanda said...

You can also find the Diana + at Urban Outfitter's website (under "Apartment" and the "Camers & Electronics). I am obsessed with the Minty green Diana + Dreamer (available for preorder). Thanks for the tips! They will really help me in getting started.

Jen McCleve said...

I think that it's all about having the right camera accessories for the situation. If you can play around with things for a bit then you can get some really nice shots. Thanks for the tips.