As I was choosing which Lomography camera to purchase first, the cat lady in me purred "Pick the Diana Mini Leopard!" Aside from its roarin' design, its many features—square and half-frame formats, bulb and MX settings, flash and colored gel filters—are really the cat's pyjamas! See some photos from my test rolls here.
If you want a pretty little 35mm camera that allows versatile shooting modes, then the Diana Mini & Flash – Leopard is for you!
Reading the product description, I was impressed that the tiny toy packed a lot of punch and the curious cat in me couldn’t wait to try out its various features! Here are the results from some of the techniques I’ve tried thus far:
This has got to be my top reason for selecting the Diana Mini. By splitting the frame in two, you double the number of exposures available on a single roll of film and I like that I can maximize the limited storage space. Twelve exposures become 24, 24 into 48, and 36 into a whopping 72!
Also, half-frame mode enables you to tell a story in diptychs which is a technique I found neat when I went to Philippine Fashion Week with the Diana Mini Leopard.
Colored Gel Filters for Flash
Luckily, the Diana Mini Leopard already comes with a matching pink Diana Flash+ and a packet of 12 gel filters for colorsplashing so you can experiment with saturation and give your images a radical new look with bursts of color!
In my experience, using the fuchsia filter gave trippy magenta/pink-ish tones to photos, the orange and yellow ones made pictures look warmer or more sepia/vintage, and—surprisingly—the greens made some of my flash photos look like shots from cross-processed slide film!
Bulb / Long Exposures
While I love the retro look of the flash, it does add a bit of bulk to an otherwise handy camera, especially since it goes on the left side and throws off the balance when it’s slung around my arm. So on nights when I don’t feel like bringing the fragile light source, I just shoot dark scenes on bulb mode!
You can hold down the shutter and let light in for as long as you like which also allows you to try light painting and other slow shutter experiments. (Obviously, I’ve got to work on getting this right so its not all blurs and trails of light!)
Multiple Expsosures / Doubles
Another reason why I decided on the Diana Mini! It’s so simple to do MX shots: take your first exposure, don’t advance the film, take another shot, and voila! Instant doubles without having to rewind your roll manually!
For example, in the star-studded diptych, I first shot the scattered sequins on the floor. Without winding the film knob, I then asked my friend to shoot me. Hence, stars all over my frame! For my friend’s portrait, I tried the reverse technique. I first shot him against a light background, and then the stars on the carpet. I think I prefer the first method, but in any case, this camera makes taking multiple exposures hassle-free!
What do you get when your manual advance camera can do half-frames and multiple exposures? Why, endless panoramas of course! By taking overlapping photos (click, wind a bit, repeat), you can patch several photos together to make one long/wide image! The above image isn’t much of a panorama but I like how it’s sort of a short narrative in just three images.
Of course, this camera is not without flaws (although I think the boo-boos have more to do with me being daft about shooting than any other reason). While the lens cap featuring a leopard’s eye is cool, I often forget to remove it before shooting and end up with a blank black frame. Oops. I also sometimes forget to switch between the four focus settings so now I’m trying to be more conscious of the lens.
Like I said, the flash makes the camera tip to one side when it’s on board so be careful when you’re wearing it and make sure to secure or protect it. The pay off is wonderful thought when you use it, as it ensures bright and crisp images, something that you may not get if you don’t stay steady enough when you cock the shutter while shooting without a flash.
All in all, I still highly recommend the Diana Mini Leopard because of the nearly endless possibilities when it comes to shooting! No other affordable plastic camera can give you this kind of flexibility so if you’re thinking of getting this limited edition clone, don’t hesitate! You’ll have a lot of fun playing around with it and the results are always a great surprise. :-) I’ve shot a few more rolls with it since and can’t wait to share my tips and tricks. I’ve already got a few Tipsters up my sleeve so keep your paws on this site!
Visit the Diana Mini Microsite for more info. You might also like:
Fall in love with Diana Mini Leopard, Lomography’s petite plastic princess. Packing fantastic features in such a tiny package, this versatile camera is perfect to take when you’re on the prowl. Get your own Diana Mini & Flash – Leopard now!