Thursday, September 27, 2007

The results are in! And the winner is...

...not up to me! It's up to you. I did take out both the Diana+ and my Snappy (Diana clone) cameras today. I wanted to take actual photos, like "art", as opposed to just random snapshots, like we've seen before on flickr. This is what Lomography is all about, so whatever. But I wanted to shoot like I would normally, instead of just wasting film to hurry up and see what the new camera shoots. So I went up to New River, which is out of the city, but not so far that I have to drive more than 20 miles. And it's out in the desert...and there are lots of interesting things to shoot around the area (until the day Anthem takes over everything). I used about half of each roll to take the same shot with both cameras, with the same settings and focus on each camera. My Snappy doesn't have an aperture plate anymore, so I just left the Diana+ on cloudy (all the way open), even though it was sunny. Never seems to make a difference, anyway. I used Fortepan 100 (one of my favorite films - has a nice tonal range and good contrast) and developed both rolls at the same time in 1:1 D-76. I used the 42x42 mask, so the shots are the same size as the Diana. I'm cleaning the dust and cat hair off the scans, of course, but no sepia...just straight black and white. So they should be as close as possible to each other - only the camera differences should be apparent. I'm actually scanning the Diana+ negs right now while I'm typing, so this is an interactive experience! What do I see so far? You want to know the truth? I really, REALLY like what I f*cking see. Sorry Lomography haters, but this camera rocks. I'll type some more while I scan. When I first hung each roll, I couldn't tell them apart. I had to look really close to figure out which was which, and I identified the Diana+ by the sharper corners. From a foot away, I was like, wait, that's the, wait, that's the Snappy. Scanning them, I can see the differences, which we will see in a minute...but they look really good. I know, you probably aren't even reading just skipped ahead to the photos. I'll have eight comparison photos here eventually. Right here.

















Look pretty good? Differences? Well...I never thought it would happen, but my Snappy shots are actually sharper than the Diana+. Particularly when focusing close up. The Snappy's focus is a bit softer, while the blur on the Diana+ seems to actually double, with slight multiple lines along the edges of the Snappy is romantic and the Diana+ is psychedelic. There is more detail in the Diana+ blur, while the Snappy loses's just "grayer". The Diana+ has a sharper blur. Dunno how many other ways I can say that. But you can see for yourself. I guess it's the difference between accidental blur (the Snappy) versus intentional blur (Diana+). The original Diana was just made cheap, probably with little quality control. The Diana+ lens was engineered to look crappy. The Snappy has more vignette than the Diana+. The Diana+ seems to rely more on blur. I'd imagine that taking out the mask would increase the vignette. And the most obvious difference is the odd "square" along the edges of the Diana+. A slight warp. I don't particularly like this, but I don't hate it either. With the mask out, though, it's going to be this square on all your shots a third of the way in from the edge. What causes this? No ideas. Must be something to do with the shape of the opening (it's round with corners instead of round). I guess. And the actual edges? As I ALWAYS include the edge, because, for me, that's part of the toy camera. It's not as bad as I expected! It looks so much straighter...and it is. But it still is a bit wobbly. I see a slight indentation on the sides, from manufacturing, I guess. The corners are sharper on the Diana+, which is how I identified the negatives. And the Snappy, it kind of glows along the inside edge as the image falls off, from reflection on the plastic edge, I assume. Oh, and the Diana+ does a pretty good job at scratching up the film...more so than the Snappy. But the plastic is harder and not as smooth as the snappy. And there is lots of dust and grit here that could have gotten in the camera, as all of the shots aren't lined.
One other difference, that's really only apparent when you put one scan next to another, the Diana+ shot is somewhat smaller than the Snappy shot. Maybe by a centimeter. I was wondering why there was more space between shots with the Diana+.
I did try the pinhole function. I was wrong when I said the book doesn't have suggested exposure times. It said 1-2 seconds for full sun. I did that...actually for five seconds in full sun. Nothing. Way underexposed, I guess, as I got nothing at all. I'll have to check to be sure there is even a hole, as the pinhole is plastic. Or just experiment more.
Now how did it compare when using the two? One thing I didn't notice until I started shooting - the focus distances are different. On the Snappy (and Diana, of course), the settings are 4-6 FT, 6-12 FT and 12 FT-INF. On the Diana+, it's 1-2 M, 2-4 M and 4 M-INF (oh...duh, thought it was feet when I was out shooting). So it's close, but a little different. I was glad for the strap, too, because I was afraid of beating up my new camera. That's why I don't like shiny, unused Dianas, because I know I'll just mess 'em up. The Diana+ sounds different when you fire the shutter - almost like it's not firing. The clicky film winder sounds different, too. Not bad, just a different sound...louder.
I tried to line up my shots as close as possible (with a winding break between cameras so I didn't forget to advance the film). What you see through the viewfinder is slightly different between cameras. Besides being incredibly sharp and clear in the Diana+ just doesn't line up exactly like the Snappy. Though it has the same tendency to show more "up", while the lens shows more "down". As in it shows more dirt on your neg than what you expected and cuts off the sky.
So...who is the winner? Okay, while the Diana+ is great and's not the winner. I love my Snappy and nothing will replace it...but it's not the winner, either. So...I'm the winner! Because now I have two great cameras! It's not about one replacing the other. I'm glad the Diana+ takes cool shots...and I'm glad it is different than my Snappy and Diana, because now I just have another choice!
It's ALL good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It hath arrive...eth, Thee Diana Pluth.

My Diana+ showed up today, figured I'd go over it a bit and give my initial impressions. There are other people that already have comparisons between the original and the plus, but if I don't do the same, then I won't have anything to talk about. This may be my longest post ever, as this is a bit historic and I'll probably babble for awhile. Some of it may sound nitpicky, but I'm just being honest. And, right up front, no matter what I bitch about, I'm digging it. We'll see how it performs tomorrow, but I like what I see so far.
After pulling it out of the shipping box, we see a kind of ugly box surrounding the Diana+. What, it's torn? I want my money back.

It's not awful or anything...just not particularly attractive. And, it's very big. Compare the original:

I didn't buy it for the box, though, so...whatever. That big Diana+ box will just go in another, bigger box for storage! Here we see the complete package.

Comes with a nice book, instructions, the camera (duh) and two masks. The instructions are in 400 different languages and are typical. They are, after all, instructions. I read through the seven pages, but I had already figured out all the gimmicks just from noodling with the camera. Just in case, though. I did learn how to load 120 film into the camera. Might come in handy. Speaking of, I read a comment on flickr that it took someone awhile (like 10 minutes) to load the film. Yeah, maybe if you have never owned a Diana before...but my Snappy doesn't even have the spool holders attached, so it was pretty easy for me. There are a few niggles with the loading, which I'll talk about in a minute.
Before I talk about the camera itself, let's check out that book.

Actually, quite nice. Kind of cheap production...though the cover is cloth and has nice prints glued to the front and back. It is warped, like all of my Lomography books. And the paper is probably the cheapest paper available. A few steps above newsprint...but, the book itself is quite nice. Though, a design criticism - what's up with the squiggles throughout the book? I can tell it's a 'design' element, and it's not unattractive or anything. But the graphics seem to have nothing to do with the content. They are just squiggly drawings, there to fill space. A guy parasailing? Riding a bike? No idea. Aaanyway. It has lots of pictures, of course. Mostly from the Diana+, I assume. I recognize some from the Diana+ flickr group. Has a nifty interview with Mark Sink, and some great Diana shots of his. Also Allan Detrich and his collection that Lomography bought. They talk to Tony Lim, who has a large collection of Diana clones. I've had some contact with Tony (check out the interview he and Skorj did with the creator of the Holga in Lightleaks #2 - back when I used to design the mag), but didn't know he was so deep into it! There are also various short stories that they call vignettes (get it?). They seem to be fiction. I just skipped over them. I was excited about the Diana history, but it tells me nothing I haven't heard before. I was hoping for some insight, but they go the 'legend' and 'shrouded in mystery' route, so it's pretty vague. The book is 256 pages long. A nice job all around, and a nice thing to throw in with the camera. It still doesn't account for the hugosity of the box...half of that is filler around the outside of the contents.
Okay, blah blah blah, right? Enough of that, let's talk about the camera. I should study or something. I think I'll do this and listen to Joy Division instead. Unless you want me to stop. No? Okay, I'll continue. You in the back. Shut up and sit down.
Okay, so I pull it out of the box. Initial impression? It looks like a Diana, and it actually feels like a Diana. A very clean, shiny, new Diana, but a Diana. Diana. Just to say Diana a few more times. It felt so much like a Diana that I was instantly less excited about it. Not in a bad way, I guess. It just felt...comfortable.
Here we see new and old. Nice and big for all you geeks out there that want a close-up comparison.

The blue is different, but there are different shades of blue on different Diana cameras. And you can see how shiny and new it is. It weighs about the same, but it does feel slightly more solid. Maybe not as brittle? The plastic just feels stronger - and it probably is. It better be, because (first complaint) the strap is already attached to the camera. I don't use the straps on the originals. The strap loops just break off, like fast. These better hold. I don't want to cut the strap off, but we'll have to see how it goes. Plus, the straps are all ugly and in the way when I set them on the shelf. Am I being difficult? Maybe, but I don't like bits of crap (other than the cameras themselves) all over the place.
The back is different.

Ripped that counter window straight from the Holga. It is improved, though. Slides from one setting to another nicely. You don't bruise your fingertips like with the Holga. And why the multiple settings? Because of this:

Nice little masks. The first is to give you the same size photo as the original Diana, the second is slightly larger so the photos overlap slightly - continuous panorama with this one. Without the mask is just a larger photo, like the Holga. 12 shots instead of 16. More vignette. You can check out photos on flickr. I haven't used mine yet, obviously. I'll probably use the regular mask, as I like the Diana look...but we'll see how it goes when I've run a few rolls.

Okay, my opinion on the masks. The edges look waaay too sharp. Part of the fun of the fun of the Diana is the wonky edging, usually askew or slightly rounded. I may have to modify that a bit at some point. And I may never use the pano mask, as once it is in, you have to use the entire roll. I may try it once, but it doesn't really look like my bag. It would be fantastic if you could switch masks mid-roll (without going in a dark room and pulling it all apart, etc.). Impossible, I know, but it's a nice fantasy. So, it will probably stay in my drawers. I mean drawer. Still, it's a nice idea and I'm glad it was included, just because.
Inside the camera, a few differences. First, the spool holders.

I can see the reasoning behind the change. The originals were brittle. Hell, That's my Snappy's main issue. I have to hold the broken pieces in place with one hand while I advance the spool and try to slide the back on. I've done it a couple hundred times, now, so it is second nature (I was noticing today how worn out my Snappy is looking. I use it a LOT). Funny thing is, though, with the new flexible spool holders - you have to load the film exactly like I do with my Snappy. They have almost zero ability to hold your film in place while you load the film! They barely touch the spools, and are pushed in place by the backing. So the film slides all over the place while you are loading it, and the spool holes don't line up with the holders while you are trying to put the back on. I can see how it would be tough for a newbie. I got it in a less than a minute, but I can see exactly how it would make people flip out trying to get the film to stay in place and not end up crooked and binding when you try to wind it. So it's a better design with faults. It should have been simple enough to make the holders have a bit more...I don't even know how to describe it. They should have something that reaches farther into the spool hole so it all stays in place. Even a centimeter more would have helped.
Okay, enough of that. To the front. It has the usual, same as the Diana. Though the barrel is longer.

Has an instant and bulb setting. Has three apertures and a Pinhole setting (more on that in a few). Nice thing about the aperture setting - it clicks in place. No more half of a metal plate in your frame, as with most originals, the aperture plate just kind of floats where it wants to. I've removed it from a couple of mine, and tape it in place on the others. Okay, the pinhole function. Pretty cool! I used to make paper pinholes, and have done Polaroid pinholes, but not with film. Just been lazy about it. This is a nice feature that I can try on a few shots without using the entire roll to experiment with. The front of the camera twists and pulls off. Simple as that!

There are no suggested pinhole times in the instruction book, so I'll just have to guess. I'd really like to try the pinhole setting with the lens on, too. Maybe leave it overnight and see what happens. Bea does a fantastic job doing this with her pinholes.
Okay, I'm getting tired of typing. Only a little bit more. Hmmm...what else? Oh, there is a little piece of plastic that I forgot to take a shot of that hangs from the strap loop. It slides into the shutter release to hold the shutter open. It's a bit fumbly to get it in place and I will probably jiggle the camera a lot doing so, but it's an interesting idea. I also noticed that the shutter and shutter plate seem to be made out of plastic. The original was all metal. The shutter mechanism is very different from the original, and is actually the first time I've seen the workings behind the shutter plate. Obviously because of the pinhole function. I'm curious about the long-term holdupability of the camera. Those metal plates last forever, even as the rest of the camera falls apart. Plastic will wear out with repeated use. And those flexible spool holders? Will they become brittle someday and snap off? I guess I'm thinking in terms of the originals being up to 40 years old, and will the Diana+ last that long. It's probably not intended to...but neither was the original.
I guess I've run out of things to say. Been typing for a couple hours! Man, what a camera nerd. I'll probably go out and shoot tomorrow, and do some duplicate shots with both the Diana+ and my Snappy (because it's my favorite). See how the results compare. I have a somewhat beat-up Stellar coming soon (I like them dirty!). Hope it's a winner! Also thinning out my camera collection, too. I have so many and I don't use most of them. If the output isn't interesting, or I have duplicates, Ebay all the way. Check back soon for my shots from the Diana+! Check it out...self portrait in a Diana+ lens. Oooh. Gravenhurst. More good blogging music. Too late.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Diana+ and Diana?

No, I don't have the Diana+ yet. But Miku asked:

"Do you have any comments on what this will do to the prices of original old used ones for which the price have been very high?"

Not that I'm an expert or anything, but I do have opinions. Not particularly strong or well-informed opinions on this subject, but maybe a few thoughts. I think that the release of the Diana+ will probably have little effect on the price of the originals on Ebay. And I'm talking Diana, not the clones, which often sell for cheaper, and sometimes sell for more if it is a seemingly rare pseudonym. The originals, they aren't exactly rare. There are always at least 20 for sale at any given time...and the always sell for $35-$80. The release of the new Diana+ will certainly raise awareness of the original Diana, particularly with the purchase of the collection and presenting of all the models on the Lomography site. Will it make everyone run to Ebay to buy one of these originals? Maybe a few people...maybe more than a few. But I doubt most of those people would pay more than they would for a Diana+, which is $50. I absolutely am certain that the "Buy It Now" prices will increase substantially, and maybe a few people will bite. Sellers are greedy. I sell things occasionally and I want the most I can get from my sale. Naturally. No way would I pay $150 for a Diana, but they will appear more frequently at those prices. I'm betting that the average Joe will go to Lomography rather than pay those prices, though...eventually bringing the "Buy It Now" back down to a respectable (albeit still too expensive) price of around $75-$80, which is the average right now.
Will it make the prices of the Diana go down? No way. Most people that want a Diana...want a Diana. Not a Diana+. I know Lomography will sell tons of them, and they may become the new "Holga" in the hip circles, and many people will choose to buy the Diana+ over an original. But, I'm betting most of those people weren't aware of, or were only vaguely familiar with the Diana camera. The Diana+ looks to be a more attractive buy than an old camera, with all the fancy features and the warranty, etc. Just like you still see, every day, some Flickr post about "My new Holga! How do I use it?", there will always be Diana newbies, and they will see it on Lomography for the first time and just buy it. And there will be a few people that will buy them on Ebay, not realizing that the Diana camera is different than the Diana+. And maybe a few people will do a little research and decide that an original is cooler than the Diana+. And, of course, the people that just think it's a plastic piece of crap, plus or not. They don't count.
I feel like I'm going around in circles. To summarize: no. No price difference on Ebay. Maybe someday when all the old Dianas are broken and there aren't so many of them, the prices will go up. Geez, there seems to be an endless supply of them, though.
But I already own mine, so I don't much care. They break? I fix.
Anyway, I should be studying. I guess.

I love my Snappy. I want to marry it and have its babies.

Oh, on a side note...what's up with the butt-ugly gold Diana?

They haven't even shipped out the "vintage" Diana+ and they release a limited edition version. And it's painted gold. You can see the blue plastic inside the viewfinder. And those decals! Blech. Maybe if the gold was the actual molded plastic color and it didn't have the nasty logos, it might be cool. just plain tacky. And not cool tacky. A bit interesting, it doesn't seem to have the + symbol on top like the blue version.
Anyway, haven't shot anything new for a few. Busty. I mean, busy. I must be dreaming of sweet things.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The DIANA+ is here!

Yep, you can now buy the Diana+ from Lomography. They launched a very nice site today, with lots of info about the new camera. And, perhaps, just as amazing (to me, at least) is that they bought Allan Detrich's Diana collection, and present shots of every one of the cameras on the Lomography site. Whatever your opinion of Lomography is (I'm really just enjoying photography too much to care...more power to those that can make a buck...and I'm not much of an elitist), I think it's great that this collection was kept together, rather than being parceled off on Ebay one camera at a time. It is an amazing collection, a true part of photographic history (the cameras themselves and the collecting of so many of them). Kudos to Lomography for that move. The site is pretty nice, of course, as they are good at marketing and design, regardless of whatever opinions you may have. The price is $50 bucks plus shipping, and comes with a book. For $70 you get 20 rolls of film, which is actually a pretty good deal, at a buck a roll. But I have plenty of color film.
I am bummed, though. I knew they would launch it while I was at class, so I am now on backorder and have to wait an extra week. You know I'll use it right away and post my impressions when I get it.

On a side note, someone asked why I never went back to showing how to load a Konica Wai Wai. Laziness, mostly. I took all the pictures, just never put it all together. I promise I will do that some day, but for now, Skorj has a decent review and explanation here at filmwaster.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Holga 135BC Part Deux...Output Mania

Took the new Holga out today to see what it does. It was kind of different to use, as it felt like a Holga (it's almost the same size...just shorter), but some of the stuff is in the wrong place. I kept going for the shutter release to the side of the lens. I even forgot to focus a few times, just because it was new experience. At least I didn't leave the lens cap on, like when I first started using my 120. The camera has a nice, solid build, and doesn't feel as flimsy as the 120. There are no parts that you feel will break off if you manhandle it a bit. The winder knob is sturdy and reinforced with metal.
One small thing I discovered after finishing this roll...aim up a bit if you are close to your subject. Everything that I was trying to get in the frame at the top doesn't show up...and I got more ground than I wanted. So...aim up a bit. I just wandered around downtown Phoenix for an hour to shoot this roll. I used 100. I've used the 120 version and have been mostly indifferent, but I quite like the 35mm 100. Nice tones and the film is very flat. Drives me nuts when film is ultra curly and bells up in the middle. And this film is $1.80 for a 24 exp roll. Not bad. Developed in 1:1 D-76. Anyway, some shots...

What do you notice first? The massive vignette. Fantastic. I've been looking for a 35mm camera that does some of what 120/620 toy cameras do, and this is it. I have NEVER seen this on ANY 35mm camera, out of the box (not including pinholes and modifications, etc.). Time camera? Nope. Akira? Nope. L-CA? Not even close. I don't know exactly what they did here, but it works for me. That is some crazy vignette for a 35mm camera. Maybe as simple as making the exposed image smaller than the available frame. Whatever, I like it. It has a nice depth of field and treats the out of focus background in a decent manner, as seen in the shot with the saint, or monk, or whatever he is. One big difference between this and the lightleaks. But I think it's better without.
So, that's it! As I said in my previous post, whenever these become available on a broader scale, they will probably be quite popular. I'm sufficiently impressed.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Introducing...The new Holga 135BC!

Holga has gone 35mm. Huh? Yeah, I said the same thing when I first saw this thing on Ebay. I was somewhat dubious as to it's authenticity. Maybe it was a Frankenstein camera created by someone else to capitalize (in a Communist country, no less) on the Holga name. A cheap pirate camera of a cheap camera. Plus, the 135BC moniker is actually stolen from a Russian LOMO camera. I couldn't help myself, though, and ordered one. So I'm sitting and drinking my hoji-cha, and what shows up today from Hong Kong? new Holga 135BC, of course. I love getting new cameras in the mail. It's like a little bit of Christmas wrapped up in a brown box. So, let's open up that brown box (or envelope, in this case).

Fancy packaging, eh? I'm sure that will be spiffed up at some point.
I smell camera under that bubble wrap. Well, actually I can see it. And here she be! Purty? Purty ugly, in that cute Holga kinda way.

Okay, it looks like a camera...with a Holga lens? Yep. I'd still be dubious as to its legitimacy, but it has a UEI logo on it. Tokina is part of UEI, and they make Holgas. So I guess maybe it is real. It is an odd mix of actually built fairly well to bits of cheap. The labels are clear stickers. Even the figures on the focus ring are on a clear sticker. On a 120 Holga, the Holga logo is a sticker, but on black, but the focus ring is painted. I'm sure that at some point, there will be a LOMO sticker in place of the UEI, when Lomography starts to sell these things. I've also read that this camera is actually still in testing phase, so maybe this isn't the final version. The box and no instructions maybe lend to this theory. These might be straight from the factory before a distributor gets ahold of them.
Compare the 120 and 135:

The front lens on a 120 has raised text. On the 35mm, it's just painted on flat. At least it's not a sticker. It also says 47mm, as opposed to 60mm. How is this achieved with the same lens mount?

You can see that the lens is set deeper in the mount, using an additional piece of plastic. The lens SEEMS to be made of glass, but it's hard to tell without scratching it. Not in my plans. The aperture is a bit smaller than on the 120, also. It has the same sunny/cloudy aperture switch that the Holga has. I've read more than once that the switch on the 120 isn't hooked up to anything and does nothing. This is only half true. You can see the aperture plate slide over to another setting when you switch's just that both apertures aren't any smaller than the camera aperture, so it doesn't make any difference where you set it. It kind of looks about the same for the 135BC. I can see it switching over, but I can't really tell if it makes a difference. I can see the edges of the plate on the sunny setting, but they seem to be about the same size as the camera aperture. I'll have to take a few duplicate shots on both settings to see if there is any difference.
So, what does this new camera offer? It has a couple nice features. You can see the hotshoe for a flash. Also a screw for a cable release. Why? Because of this, I assume:

It has a bulb setting! Kind of cool. On the bottom, you also see a tripod mount and the button for rewinding the film. The other hole just has a screw in it. It went through Quality Control. Wheee! You can also fire the shutter as many times as you want for each frame, but the film won't advance to the next frame until you fire at least once. Another nifty feature. Makes for easy multiple exposures...or easy mistakes.
The back pops open by pulling up on the film winder.

The inside is one piece that doesn't come out, like a 120 camera, so only one size....135. There are some metal parts here and there for added strength. Like I said, it's put together fairly well...a bit better than your basic thrift store plastic camera.
So...what does the output look like? There are a few sites that have some supposed examples. Check out Snaps. There are a few other Asian sites with examples. I will be using mine today and tomorrow, so I should have a roll done and samples in a day or two. I'm going to use black and white film, as all I've seen are color shots. I'm very curious about all that vignette! Be sure to check back soon! I'm sure that these things will be VERY popular when they appear outside of Hong Kong. 35mm is a lot easier for most people to stomach than 120.