The Diana De Luxe is often considered a variant of the Diana, but it is in fact a completely different camera.
The first Diana camera (without
F for flash) is a simple plastic camera, often
camera, from the 1960s. It has no flash connection and was sold in a
small yellow box, size of the camera. It was produced by the Great Wall
in Hong Kong and was branded with many names for different markets. The
first model has "NO. 151 MADE IN HONG KONG" written on the lever releasing the back. The
Dianas were either sold at prices as low as $1 or given away as
promotional items. They were packed in boxes of 144 cameras for the
resellers. The original Dianas used 120 film.
lens is simple
plastic meniscus lens with some vignetting. Light leaks are frequent,
often you had to put black tape over the seams. Each frame is 42mm x
42mm, so a roll of 120 film gives 16 frames. Focusing is done by turning
the lens' index to 3 zones, 4-6ft, 6-12ft, or 12ft to infinity. There
are 3 F-stops, sometimes said to be random, around F4.5, F8 and F11 due
to less sensitive film in the 1960s and smaller towards the end
of production (F11, F13 and F19). Several variations in top-plate and
The second model had a flash, hence its name "Diana F". It was sold in a bigger red box which also contained the bulb flash. It is marked "NO. 162 MADE IN HONG KONG" on the lever releasing the back. By the end of the 1970s 120 film was replaced by 135 film
in cheap cameras. It is not sure when the production of the original
Diana stopped, but full cases of 144 Dianas were still available in the
2000s. 135 film versions or look-alikes appeared in the 1970s.
The Diana De Luxe has a number of significant differences. It
exposes full 6×6 cm images, 12 per roll of 120 film. As the 4×4 image
of the original Diana showed already some vignetting at the corners,
they chose a curved film plane to reduce vignetting and aberration of
the simple plastic lens. The De Luxe has a shutter release at the top
of the camera. It has an ordinary hot shoe. Most name variants have a
piece of plastic at the front which resembles a selenium meter. The
labeled Plasicion, it has 3 working F-stops and the distane setting is
done via a ring on the lens barrel. It has also 2 spring sheets of
metal for film tensioning to avoid "fat rolls", a feature that even the
Diana F+ is missing. And even the film wind is on the other side.
The Diana De Luxe was sold under several names, as:
Dana 120 Flash, Porst Happy, Photon 120 Camera, Colorflash De Luxe and
Elflex De Luxe.
Some say, the Diana De Luxe dates from the 50s or early 60s. I don't
believe this. According to a Hong Kong industrial history site, the
Great Wall company was founded in 1955 and began making the original
Diana version during the 1960s. The De Luxe is a complete re-design.
Hot shoes only became common in the late 60s. The design of the camera
resembles a late 60s or early 70s design, like the Agfa Silette LK Sensor from 1970. The silver plastic is not
painted, it's solid. So no moulds of the original Diana were used. The
mould number is not indicated on my camera, but sometimes "NO. 155 MADE IN HONG KONG" is indicated on the box. Nobody knows why the better De Luxe model did not survive the Diana F.
For the Porst Happy some websites even give a year, 1953. I think this
is completely wrong. The warranty papers of my camera ask a stamp of
0.20 DM to be glued. This fee applies since 1974. So my camera is from
1974 or later. And no, Porst did not keep those models for many years,
they bought an important number at once and sold them off.
In.2007 the Lomographische AG in
launched the Diana F+ in the original 120 format. The medium-format Diana F+ is has become a
system camera, with interchangeable lenses, electronic flashes and film backs. It
has two formats, the original 16 frame 42x42mm, and a
12-frames-per-film 52x52mm. Features such as a tripod socket
and a shutter lock were added.
The camera shown is the Porst Happy model with a bulb flash. Its main features are:
What' in the box: camera with cap and flash, instructions (German in this case), warranty card.
Camera, flash and cap.
front. Viewer window. Fake selenium meter.
Camera top. Film advance knob. hot shoe, shutter release.
On the lens barrel: F-setting and distances in feet.
Camera bottom. No tripod socket. Back cover release. No mould number on the release lever.
On thelens barrel: distances in metres.
Film chamber. Note the curved film plane.
The bulb flash.
Seen from the back. It takes a variety of bulbs which are indicated.
To open the flash, you have push the little tab on the top upwards and the push the lower part of the reflector in.
It needs 2 AA batteries, as indicated. .
There was a different flash as well.
Seen from the back.
It has a battery compartment, takes 2 AA batteries as well.
Camera and flash.
The silver and the black parts are different pieces of mould.
The Diana De Luxe isn't a reasonable camera nowadays, even if it's better than the F. It is a basic plastic camera
with only one speed, no automatic exposure, no automatic film advance,
no autofocus, not even a rangefinder, a simply made plastic lens and random results.
If you want to get into the Dianas, you better get a Diana F+, which
offers a whole system and can be affordable second hand. But as I love
to play with old basic stuff, the Diana De Luxe is a nice find for me.
As there is no "B" setting, there is a trick: Get the cap in your hand,
turn the camera upside down and press the shutter. It will open, but
not close, as the it closes by gravity. Push the cap on at the end of
exposure and turn the camera back to normal position. Action the
shutter twice with the cap on to ensure normal workig. Done. Don't
forget to advance the film.