I Got an F+ in Photography. Diana F+ that is!
March 10, 2009 10:47 PM   Subscribe

I just got a diana f+ camera. I have shoten? shot, 3 rolls of film and none of them have turned out well. All of the images are extremely blurry. We have tried out the fish eye, the telephoto and the wide angle lenses as well as the color gels and the long exposures. So far only the long exposures seem to be turning out at all. None of the other pics display the attributes of the accessories used. There are no color changes or changes in the clarity. SO my question is...what am I doing wrong?

Is it too much light or not enough or does the camera need to be on a tripod or what? I have seen so many diana flickr pictures and am blown away by the difference in my photos and other regular peoples. Am i camera incapable or can i be saved?

PS i took the 35mm film to a fancy lab and even though we took pics with the right back and frame, there are no perforations where the film spokes should be....can this only be done when printing your own pics???? HEP ME!

PPS where should i go to have my slides developed cheaply?
posted by madmamasmith to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Need a bit more info..

Can you describe the blur? Is it motion blur, or out-of-focus blur? What sort of film are you using? It'd be helpful to see some photos.

Also, if you're on Flickr. there's a Diana group you can search/post to.
posted by hobbes at 11:04 PM on March 10, 2009

could you post a link to some of these photos please? the lens effects not showing, particularly the fish eye, seems really intensely weird.
posted by lia at 11:04 PM on March 10, 2009

I'd have to see examples to really say what the problem is, but do you mean blurry like motion blurred or blurry like out of focus? Im guessing the Diana is like the Holga with a switch that says something like B or N? You might have the shutter set to Bulb mode.

Also, you're probably only going to get to see those sprocket holes in your prints if you scan the negatives yourself or bring them somewhere other than a 1-Hour minilab.
posted by Venadium at 11:21 PM on March 10, 2009

At a complete guess, you're using a fairly low speed film (100ISO/ASA rated?), I'm not familiar with that particular camera, but I'm guessing it has a fixed shutter speed 1/60sec probably. With 100 speed film that's just not going to be exposed enough. Try again with 400 and above. Ways around this possibly would be to ask the lab to push-process your film, but I've always found that retail labs often say they can't do it (probably a lie).

As for the sprocket holes, have to scan them yourself. You'd need to get a flatbed scanner which is normally used for scanning transparencies or medium/large format films, because most scanners which have a 35mm adapter will crop out anything outside the frame.

I guess you're aiming for the lomo aesthetic? Be sure to ask the lab to cross-process and push your film for added grain and colour weirdness ;-)
posted by chrisbucks at 1:52 AM on March 11, 2009

The Diana is a piece of junk toy camera. I'm pretty sure it's 1/100 fixed shutter speed, and f/8 or f/16 fixed aperture, so you need a bright sunny day for photos to turn out if you use ISO 100 film.

Honestly there are probably better cameras to start with if you are trying to figure out how film works.
posted by chunking express at 8:57 AM on March 11, 2009

And yes, you would need to scan 35mm film yourself to get the sprocket holes to show up.

And I agree with Chris, there isn't any point shooting Slide film in a camera like this unless you plan to cross-process the film. So just give it to the same place you process your C-41 colour negative film and tell them to cross-process it. (Develop E-6 slide film like it was C-41 colour negative film.)
posted by chunking express at 8:59 AM on March 11, 2009

Your last sentence makes it sound like you're shooting slide film in your Diana. If so, that sounds like a recipe for disaster. Unlike normal negative film which has a wide exposure margin, slide requires very exact exposures, which you won't get with the fixed shutter and limited aperture selection on your camera. Stick with negative at a higher ISO, as others have advised, at least for now, or only use it in sunlight at f/11 or f/16 aperture with ISO 100 negative film.

If you're really taking your film to a pro lab, you might be able to get them to scan the sprockets, but it will cost you extra, probably a lot extra, as they'll slap the film on a drum scanner. Honestly, with the Diana using Walgreen's or Costco will probably get you the same results unless you have something specific you need done, like push processing, special printing, or high-end scanning. Ordinary 35mm negative film will be processed on site in these places, but slide or medium format will just get sent out to a mail-order lab, so it will get the professional touch anyway.
posted by monocyte at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2009

And I agree with Chris, there isn't any point shooting Slide film in a camera like this unless you plan to cross-process the film. So just give it to the same place you process your C-41 colour negative film and tell them to cross-process it. (Develop E-6 slide film like it was C-41 colour negative film.)

I disagree. I used to use fuji velvia slide film in my holga--I'd process normally (not cross process), and order prints (not slides) and get much better colors than I would with normal C-41 film. Here are some of the results. I really think the film you choose is 90% of getting those "lomography"-like results. You can also cross-process, of course, but the results will be funky and unpredictable, as in the lowest shot here.

So definitely get faster film and experiment with different types. I honestly never had much success with using 35 mm film in my Holga--they'd be grossly overexposed and weird in the worst possible way--mostly, bright red, and you couldn't tell what they were photos of. I used to get my film developed by a mail order place; that was, by far, the cheapest, but I can't for the life of me remember what place. If I do, I'll post here and let you know.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2009

For the Diana+
"Cloud" setting: f/11
"Partial Sun" setting: f/16
"Sun" setting: f/22
The normal shutter speed is 1/60.

Common things it could be:
1. Not using the focus ring properly. If you've never used a zone focusing system or a manual focus camera, it can take a little while to get used to. Remember that the markings are in meters, not feet. If you need do, write down the conversions to feet. Or carry a tape measure.
2. Accidentally leaving it on bulb mode. Though you say the long exposures are OK, so I assume you're familiar with bulb mode.
3. If your subject is moving quickly, there will be motion blur because the shutter is 1/60.

Note also when you look through the viewfinder, you're not looking through the lens. So what you see is not necessarily what you get. Move the camera up a little bit higher so the lens is parallel with your eye if you like.

Who do I make my Diana F+ photos sharper?

It's also possible you got a bum copy. The Diana+ is covered against any manufacturer defects for a full 2 years from the date of purchase.

Is the shutter firing properly? Is there gunk on the lens? Is the film getting warped inside of the camera? Are all the mechanics working correctly? Have you considered contacting the Lomographic Society International for help?

And yes, most labs will automatically not scan the sprocket holes of 35mm film, unless you tell them to. I assume that you are looking at scans, and that the physical negatives are not missing sprocket holes.
posted by kathryn at 10:28 AM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

With any of these fixed speed cameras, you can figure out what sort of film you need to use for the light conditions you'll be shooting in. For ISO100 film you can shoot at 1/100 at f/16 in bright sunny light and get proper exposures. You can work out what ISO film to use based on that starting point. I think if you keep this in mind, then using C41 or slide film is manageable. I still think Slide film is too unforgiving to use in cameras like this unless you just cross process. (Your photos are underexposed for example.)
posted by chunking express at 10:38 AM on March 11, 2009

I still think Slide film is too unforgiving to use in cameras like this unless you just cross process. (Your photos are underexposed for example.)

Well, I think it's important to keep in mind that most people shooting with toy cameras aren't looking for perfect exposure or even photos that are focused correctly, but rather interesting aesthetic effects--this is definitely reflected on, say, the lomography webpage and the livejournal communities dedicated to this. If madmamasmith is looking for the kinds of effects that are shown on, say, the diana flickr page, experimenting with different types and speeds of film is what's going to give her the most satisfying results.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2009

Agreed. I just think there are way more chances for unusable photos with slide film. Underexposure turns to black very quick. Overexposure turns to white very quick.
posted by chunking express at 12:43 PM on March 11, 2009

I mean, if you're already having trouble getting useable photographs with colour film, I don't think switching to slide film is going to help matters.
posted by chunking express at 12:44 PM on March 11, 2009

I forgot to mention it before, but if you're using 35mm film, you're not going to get the full effect of the wide angle or fisheye adapters. 35mm may be convenient but I recommend picking up some 120 film and finding somewhere to process it.
posted by Venadium at 2:09 PM on March 11, 2009

Response by poster: I just wanted to thank everyone for their input. I have started having more success with my camera, but it is slow going. I did notice that the 35mm pics I have printed in the lab have a very weird color effect, they look like they were printed on a crappy color printer. The slide film i used, i had put on to a cd and the results were far better than the 35 mm film. Im not sure if this has anything to do with the fact they were on cd, perhaps the speed of the slide film was higher, i don't recall. I have yet to try the 120 but will shortly. Each time i develop film it costs me about $12, so if anyone can recommend a cheap mail in place I would really appreciate it!
posted by madmamasmith at 9:53 PM on March 20, 2009

(It's difficult to compare prints from color negative film to scans from slide film, especially if you don't know the manufacturer or speed of the film. And a lot has to do with the printer, the scanner, and whether or not color correction was applied before printing, or applied during scanning.)

I've used both Dwaynes and PhotoworksSF for mail order for 120 film. In terms of quality, I would give the edge to Photoworks (better packaging, nicer prints, nicer scans). It might take 10-12 days, though, counting transit time to and from the lab.
posted by kathryn at 8:43 PM on March 22, 2009

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