They said never judge a book by its cover.. So never judge the Diana Mini by its size!
I have always been attracted to the half frame format of the Diana Mini. Earlier this month before a trip to Singapore, one of my colleagues kindly loaned me hers, and it was a no-brainer which format I chose to shoot in.
I fed the camera with a Fuji Superia 400. A common film, yes, but I would really want to see how the camera wields its magic with the “Shoot Forever” format instead. A huge difference when I first hung the camera over my neck – it was so light I can barely feel it! After 3 years plus of shooting with a DSLR and ending up with a neck strain, the size (fits right in my palm!) and weight of the Diana Mini is just like a breath of fresh air. My parents made fun of its plastic and toy-like appearance, but I was convinced to try and see the results.
In Singapore, even though I am using both the Diana Mini and Sprocket Rocket, I had the Mini out most of the time due to its convenience. 72 shots suddenly felt a lot, and it gave me the room to try different approaches and things I’ve never wanted to try on the Rocket. As it can only shoot 18 photos, I still shoot “carefully” with the Sprocket Rocket just so I wouldn’t be wasting film. With the Mini, I can afford to shoot without composing, from the hip, straight up to my subject and there will still be room for more!
One thing I realized while using the Diana Mini is how small its viewfinder is. Sometimes it feels like as if I were looking through a hotel door peephole! After a while I only used it to compose sparingly as I prefer to just aim at the subject and see what I’ve got. Thankfully most of the time it’s spot on, as long as the focusing distance is correctly set.
Another thing I liked is the slower shutter speed (1/60 sec) compared with many other camera’s 1/100 sec. With my setting on cloudy most of the time, which gives me an aperture of f/8, the Diana Mini can actually yield good results even under a shade. Most of the time, the results are just pleasantly brighter, which I loved.
Diana Mini is a really fun camera to have. I guess it’s comical appearance helps too; the look of people when they first saw it is priceless enough to capture on film!