Toronto. In the 1960s, a Hong Kong plastics company offered a toy camera called the Diana. The camera had a cheap plastic meniscus lens and used 120 roll film. All but a few pieces of the shutter mechanism were made of plastic. The 99 cent camera was often rebranded as a marketing give-away. The camera failed.
The original Diana was often valued at a higher price to collectors than the private branded cameras (identical cameras with a different name around the lens barrel).
This 256 page hard cover little book, published in 2007 by the Lomographic Society International, offers a brief history of the Diana and its newer models, plus sample prints taken by many enthusiasts, along with some fictional stories (Diana Vignettes) meant to educate and humour the reader. Collectors suggest over 100 different private branded versions exist today. The covers of the book seem to have actual 120 contact colour prints attached, not unlike the one inside my copy of the Agfacolor book by Dr Heinz Berger (1967), but looking more like polaroids.
The camera is embraced in spite of its quirks which make the prints more like art than a factual likeness of the object recorded. The Lomography Society prides itself as a stalwart of film (analogue) photography. I thought of the camera’s cheap plastic lens as synonymous with poor quality until I realized that after cataract surgery I am viewing the world through just such an acrylic lens – all be it a trifle more costly…