I got the Diana Mini when it was first released and I have so much fun shooting with it. Compact and light, this little camera is more than a scale down model of the very popular Diana F+. The Diana Mini loads 35mm film and comes with a built in lens.
With the Diana Mini, you have the options of taking either square format or half frame pictures all within the same roll. There are no restrictions on the number of exposures you can take within a single frame. This open up opportunities for interesting double exposures and you can also use it to create an overlap panoramic shot.
Before shooting, some basic settings are required. Firstly, choose the aperture. With a choice of either Sunny (F/11) or Cloudy (F/8), this should be the least of your worries. Look up the sky and you know what aperture mode to use. If you are shooting indoor, I recommend the use of a flash.
Next choose the shuttle setting. For normal day shooting, just use the (N) mode (1/60). If you plan to shoot long exposure, there’s a bulb (B) mode available. When switch to B mode, the shuttle is opened indefinitely until you release it. Always standby your tripod at B mode. Lastly, to set the focus, first estimate the distance to your subject and turn the focus knob in front of the lens to match the distance desired. There are only 4 settings for the focus, 0.6m, 1-2m, 2-4m and 4m-infinity. Normally, I use the number of steps to the subject as a rough gauge. (Eg. 1 step =0.5m) Sometimes I get very well focused shot but most of the time I don’t : ) Every roll is a new lesson for me.
Finally, here are some pitfalls I encountered. The most common mistake is forgetting to remove the lens cover…argh!!! If you check your focus setting before shooting, this would not happen. Also, when switching between square frame and half frame, there are instances whereby the film got jammed and cannot be advance. Just click the shutter once and the film should be able to advance again. When you take the camera out from the bag, always check the setting. Sometimes the previous setting could be accidentally changed due to movement within the bag (eg. N to B mode or Sunny to Cloudy.)
Have fun with the Diana Mini!