Lomo arigato.
January 4, 2010 6:13 AM   Subscribe

I need some tips for using my new Diana F+ camera.

I got a Diana F+ for Christmas, yay! I've shot film before, but not for a looong time, so naturally I have some questions.

Where's the best place to get more film? I got a couple of rolls of 400F 120 with the camera but I'm going to need more soon. I know I can get some from lomography.com but is there a cheaper place?

What about getting it developed? Is there a good lab where I can mail them? I think I'd want a CD and the ability to have matte prints. I live outside Chicago so if there's a can't-miss lab locally, that would be cool too.

Does it matter where in the little indicator window that the film number is? (Silly question, I know.)

What are some good places online to find out more info about using the camera -- forums, etc? I trust mefites to know where knowledgeable people hang out.

Anything else I should know?

posted by sugarfish to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
www.bhphotovideo.com and adorama.com for film.
posted by availablelight at 6:26 AM on January 4, 2010

Lomography.com is probably the most expensive place to buy film. You should be able to buy 120 film from any photo store for much cheaper; if ordering it online is more convenient for you, then adorama.com lists the same films for half the price as Lomography.

I don't think it matters exactly where the frame number is in the indicator window. As long as you can see it, it's ok, because it means the film's loaded properly :)

I have no experience with Lomos myself, but I've read that some people prefer to seal the back of the cameras with duct tape, as they tend to leak light or pop open at random. Or maybe it was just the Holgas that did this, I can't remember.

Other than that, if you know how to operate the camera and how to frame a shot, I don't think there's much else to know. Just go out and start shooting pictures.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:42 AM on January 4, 2010

Caveat: my experience is with holga stuff, not diana stuff.

For rich, saturated colors, forget the cheap film you get with lomo-brand stuff and pick up some Fuji Velvia. You can have this cross-processed and printed, but I just usually had it printed straight. Here are some of my velvia shots. Remember that the color of prints is all in the film, exposure, and processing, not in the camera, no matter what the lomo folks tell you.

Yes, the film number in the back does matter, if you want a single shot in a single frame that can be cut into a normal photo. You can keep the film in place and do a double exposure, or run your photos together to scan the negatives, but if you're just starting out, in order to minimize frustration it might be better to actually forward it normally.

For developing, I always used York Photo.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:50 AM on January 4, 2010

If your question is does it matter *exactly* where in the little window that the film number is, then no. But if you keep it consistently in the same place (e.g. always centered) then your negatives will be evenly spaced and easier to separate.

If you're looking for other general tips, try an AskMe search for "Holga" which has been discussed recently. You should also join some Flickr groups for Diana/Holga/lomography. And read Squarefrog's site which is probably the best resource on plastic cameras (Holga-centric) out there.
posted by Gortuk at 7:12 AM on January 4, 2010

but I've read that some people prefer to seal the back of the cameras with duct tape

I'd avoid the duct tape and, use either gaffers tape or, electricians tape far less sticky residue that way and, electricians tape has a nice bit of stretch to it making it easier to tape around corners. In fact, I would assume the camera leaks light and run a roll of film through it after taping along the seams on the back of the camera where it joins with the front. Might want to tape over the film counter window too, just peel it back when you advance the film. Some people like light leaks, personally I can't stand them.

Another thing, the viewfinder lies, don't assume that what you see through there is what you'll get. Truth be told I don't use it on my toy cameras and, kinda look over the top of the camera guestimating the angle of view and, adjusting for parallax error by moving the camera up a few inches from where I think it should be before pressing the shutter.

For film there's also Freestyle and, for forums either APUG for questions on film and, toycamera for pretty much everything, try a search of flickr groups too for, diana+ (lomography set up a diana+ group) and toy cameras there are a bunch of them.

Does it matter where in the little indicator window that the film number is?

Oh hell yeah. It'll depend on which film gate mask you use (or don't) otherwise, as others have pointed out, you'll wind up with overlapping images which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
posted by squeak at 8:11 AM on January 4, 2010

I almost forgot, you might want to tape over the locking mechanism that holds the back of the camera in place too, sometimes light can leak through there as well.
posted by squeak at 8:18 AM on January 4, 2010

The Diana F+ is WAY better sealed than the Holga because the back really clicks and slides well into place and there's that switch at the bottom to keep the back from falling off. The Holga does not have these features because the back is secured via two clips on either side that fall off all the time.

I would not worry about light leaks with the Diana F+ because it is a much better designed camera. The only tape on my Diana is a flap over the film counter window whereas my Holga is covered in electrical tape because the light leaks were driving me crazy. My Diana F+ shots.

squeak's parallax error adjustment is what I do as well. Adjust focus range (don't forget it's in metric), compose, raise camera to forehead, shoot, wind carefully. I've found the spindles from 120 film sometimes don't wind quite so gracefully in the Diana, so just be careful.

This is what I've done:
- tried to memorize what the zones meant in feet (write it down and/or carry a measuring tape if you aren't familiar with zone focusing)
- compose so that my subject is in the center since only that center area will really be in focus (or as much as it can be in "focus" given the lens)
- bought the little "lens keeper" sticky string from a camera store because the damn Diana lens cap falls off all the time
- removed the film gate mask so that I'm exposing as much of the film as possible in the camera
- move the black arrow to the bottom position so that it's pointing to "12"
- remember that I will always have 12 exposures this way
- took some gaffer's tape (sticky but not too sticky -- don't use electrical tape or duct tape here), cut it into a thin strip the width of the film counter window, then positioned it so that it's a flap over the film counter window
- shoot only in daylight
- memorize that the official apertures and shutter speed:

"Cloud" setting: f/11
"Partial Sun" setting: f/16
"Sun" setting: f/22
"Pinhole" setting: f/150

For the shutter speed, "N" is approximately equal to 1/60 second.

As you can see, you don't really have a lot of latitude given that the shutter speed is fixed and the most you can open it up to is f/11. And your ISO will probably be 100 or 400.

Have fun! I like this Flickr group for more discussion.
posted by kathryn at 8:50 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Oh, and if you want to do mail order development and scanning and you are very patient, I highly recommend Photoworks SF. I haven't really loved Dwayne's even though it's pretty cheap. And be prepared for a constant drain on your wallet, especially if you like cross-processing.
posted by kathryn at 8:52 AM on January 4, 2010

Finding slightly out of date film could save you bucks. Most pro photo stores refrigerate their film, and even if it is out of date it is probably better than consumer grade film. Remember 220 film does not have a paper backing, so don't ever buy 220 film.
posted by Gungho at 10:01 AM on January 4, 2010

Actually, you could use 220 film, or even 35mm film, as long as you completely block off the frame counter window with a good deal of electrical tape. You'll have to guesstimate each frame advance (or use one of the guides on the internet provided for this purpose). Using 35mm film is fun because the whole film (including sprocket holes) gets exposed.
posted by Gortuk at 11:38 AM on January 4, 2010

yes, but the film plate of the camera was designed to accomodate a paper backing. the focal plane of the camera is precisely meas....Oh wait this is a Diana...never mind.
posted by Gungho at 11:49 AM on January 4, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! Lots of helpful tips. Hopefully I'll take some cool pictures soon.
posted by sugarfish at 8:40 PM on January 5, 2010

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