With the Diana Mini, you have the option of taking either square format or half-frame pictures. A roll of 36 exposures can give you 72 photos if you’re on half-frame. There are also no restrictions on the number of exposures you can take within a single frame. This opens up opportunities for interesting double exposures and you can also use it to create an overlapping 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 indoors, I recommend the use of a flash.
Next, choose the shutter 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 switching to B mode, the shutter is open indefinitely until you release it. Always have your camera set up on a tripod when using 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, 0.6 m, 1–2 m, 2–4 m and 4 m–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 wherein the film got jammed and cannot be advanced. 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!