During one of my daily perusal of the App Store today, I came across what I thought was a new photo app, The Diana by Allan Detrich. The Diana camera is one of the classic cameras for modern day lo-fi photography. I thought “Cool! I’d drop a buck for a Diana-like photo app!”
Turns out, The Diana is not a toy camera app. It’s a history of the Diana and all of its variations. Read on to see how in this instance, this is not a bad thing at all….
Around 1960, the Great Wall Plastics Factory in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong began producing the Diana, a cheaply-made 120 roll film plastic camera with a plastic lens and ill-fitting housing. Images were often slightly blurred and dreamlike, with vignetting and light leaks. While considered a failure at the time, some photographers picked up on the camera because of the soft, unpredictable and quirky nature of the images.
Although production of the original Diana cameras ended in the 1970’s, the Diana camera is currently available as the Diana+ series and is now produced by Lomography, who also market the new Holga, Actionsampler, SuperSampler and other classic analog lo-fi cameras.
Photojournalist and app developer Allan Detrich was also fascinated by the famous (or infamous) toy camera. Over the years, he amassed an impressive collection of Diana’s and variants — possibly the most complete collection of the camera’s line, clones and variants. In 2007, the collection was purchased by the Lomographic Society.
Of the toy cameras, I prefer the look and qualities of a Holga’s photography, but I think the body of a Diana is by far the prettier camera of the two. Detrich’s website features photos of the camera collection — over 100 in all. I didn’t know there were that many variants of the Diana camera. There are also other features from his collection as well — manuals, old advertisements, etc. It’s light on text, but it’s a comprehensive gallery of cameras.
This isn’t a review of the app. I haven’t purchased it, but if the app is as comprehensive as his website, it would probably please a lot of Diana enthusiasts and would be very cool to browse. For those not wanting to drop a buck, definitely check out the Diana page on Detrich’s website. The link is below. The page is easy to navigate and there is excellent photography of more Diana cameras than you would have ever thought existed.
For those interested in the analog history of digital lo-fi, this is a very cool link.
Link: The Diana Camera on AllanDetrich.com
App Store link: The Diana – Allan Detrich
Related Links: If you’re looking for an iPhone photo app that takes Diana-like pictures, check these out. Among the best I’ve found are Plastic Bullet, ToyCamera, and the venerable Hipstamatic.