Got a Diana+ Camera with a 35mm back that doesn't appear to count each time you take a photo and more on to the next frame? Do you find that sometimes the counter moves on once the dial is turned, but sometimes it doesn't? Here's a quick and easy fix that may help before you spend a lot of money sending it back for repair!
When I got my Diana F+ Deluxe Pack home from the store, I was thrilled. I couldn’t wait to ‘chuck’ a roll of film in to the camera and get going. After following the instructions to modify the camera to the 35mm back, and aligning the ‘white dot’ to the ‘E’ on the exposure counter, I was ready to go!
Click flash, photo 1 down. Click flash, photo 2 done – and on I went… after about 11 frames, I noticed that the exposure counter was only at number 7 (or so).
“Hmmm, odd” I thought to myself. I asked my partner to take some snaps and see if he had the same issue. Sure enough, a few shots later he came back and informed me “It’s weird – the counter doesn’t go up by as many shots as you take”. I knew that in place of some of the numbers where little white dots around the circumference of the dial. These were used to represent frame numbers (as there wasn’t room for 36 numbers to be printed); however, keeping an eye on these revealed nothing either – sometimes the camera moved on a frame number (or white dot), sometimes it didn’t.
I knew the film was definitely winding on as you could ‘feel’ the film whirring away in the case as the counter dial was being turned.
I was only using a test roll of film so I decided to rewind back to the beginning and start again. Maybe I’d loaded the film wrong? As I was rewinding the film, I noticed that the exposure counter wasn’t counting backwards toward 0/E either. Odd. As it’s an fully mechanical dials and cogs kind of system, you would expect this to count backwards as well as forwards when rewinding film.
I re-loaded the film and sure enough, the same problem occurred: sometimes the exposure moved on when turning the dial, sometimes it didn’t! How annoying!!!
I was a little bit annoyed that considering it was only a cogs system, it didn’t seem to work… but wait, it was only a cogs system. What might prevent the dial from turning? How about if things weren’t quite in place? How about if things didn’t quite fit together? Hmmm…
I decided to open up the back and take a look inside.
Things you’ll need:
- Diana+ 35mm back with ‘dodgy’ exposure counter.
- 1.4 mm Flat or Cross-Headed Precision Screwdriver.
- Piece of A4 Paper.
- Sticky Tape.
Before beginning you’ll want to make sure the camera is empty of any film!
Carefully pop-open the 35mm Back.
Using the screwdriver, unscrew the 3 tiny screws in the top of the dial casing. Be very careful not to loose any of these screws. If in doubt, keep an empty film canister next to you and place them inside and put the lid on for safe storage.
The next thing to do is to gently lift out the slide bar.
With the slide bar out of the way, gently remove the two exposure counter dials. Remember that the panoramic dial has fewer numbers (30) and always belongs on the right-hand side of the configuration.
With those dials removed, you should be left with the two remaining inner-cogs. They’re the ones with the white ‘counter’ dots on them. If taken out they look a tiny bit like spinning tops.
Gently press a finger down to the dials to hold them more firmly in place, and then twist the inside exposure counter dial. This is the small black clog that goes inside the camera and is turned by the film sprockets when the dial is turned to move on to the next exposure. This can be quite fiddly, so take care when doing so.
If it now seems that the two dials seem more in sync than they did before, i.e. turning the inner dial makes the white dials turn, when they didn’t seem to before, then this may have been your problem. The two ‘poles’ that stick out from the white dot dials aren’t being held in place tightly enough to always connect to the inner dial, and vice-versa. This in turn has an impact on the counter dials.
Carefully begin to reassemble the mechanism: put the counter dials and the slide bar back in to place.
I suspect you’re wondering how you can make the system fit together more “tightly”? Well, you could just try screwing the screws a little tighter to see if that works… but then you might crack the case etc.
Well, I wondered, how could I push those dials down just enough that they all connect, but not so much I can’t put the lid back on and screw it back together? The answer: paper! Plain, white, A4 paper!.
In the inside of the ‘lid’ of the mechanism, you can see 2 tiny circular indents which the two ‘poles’ should just about slot in to. Mine didn’t.
I got a piece of A4 paper and cut a small piece approx. 15mm long and 10mm deep and folded this over. This just about covered the 2 indents, without covering the holes for the exposure counters. This was also just thick enough that it filled the gap between the lid and the top of the poles so that these were pushed down and connected perfectly to all the other dials! I carefully taped this in place with some sticky tape to keep it just where I wanted it and viola, done! All you then need to do is align the white dot with the letter “E” and carefully screw the lid back in to place.
Not had a problem since!! :D
It is obviously worth mentioning that the issue with your own exposure counter dial could be totally different to this, so you may need a different solution – but, hey, it’s worth taking a look if it fixes the problem!
Also, after a while I am expecting the A4 paper to wear away slightly, so it may need replacing periodically, so this can continue working as a fix!
Enjoy endless dreamy, lo-fi, soft-focused possibilities with the Diana Deluxe Kit! This package includes the Diana F+ camera, Diana+ Lenses, 35mm Back, and Cable Release and Collar for the experimental Lomographer. Grab your own Diana Deluxe Kit now!