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GREAT WALL PLASTIC Corp. - Diana Deluxe (c.1975)

Toy cameras

Put your Diana DeLuxe at 5m from you, it looks like (a little) to a Retinette Kodak. At a distance of 1m, you seriously begin to doubt. As soon as you take it in hands, you start laughing and you begin looking where can be hidden the cork of the water tank believing to have a fake camera in hands.

Even if some variants have been labelled "DeLuxe", Diana cameras are of a great asceticism. Poor quality of its plastic, very approximative adjustments inducing multiple leaks of light, appalling optical performances (distorsion of image, lack of contrast, out of focus), no controls, etc...

Well, apparently nothing interesting but in fact... this camera is at the origin of the Toy  Camera Photography Art which has an increasing success in US. This new approach of the photography recommends to leave all technical sophistication and to remain focused onto the key aspect : the subject of the photo.

Today the Diana DeLuxe, and some other similar cameras are very appraised by the students of American schools of photographic art which use it for their practical exercices.

The body of the Diana DeLuxe is different from the one of the regular Diana.
The lower part of the camera body is covered with a non-slipping black plastic skin.
The upper part of the camera body looks like aluminium (this part is blue on the regular Diana).

On the front side, a very visible logo decorates the viewfinder which is in central position.
Just under the viewfinder is a slot for a flash, with synchro !!!
On the right hand side of the viewfinder, a simple button in plastic is used as shutter release. On the left is the film advance wheel.

On the front face, juste under the shutter release, a fake glass lets people think the camera is equipped with a TTL cell.

The pipe which hosts the lens is in black plastic and is labelled PLASICION LENS - 1:8 - Speed 1/50 sec. The selection of aperture (labelled : Soleil, Soleil voilé, Nuageux) can be done using a lever located on the lens itself and which is linked to a meniscus with three holes.

A ring around the lens allows (theorically) to adjust the focus. But it seems this setting is not operating.

I had the chance to find this camera in a perfect condition. It has its handle, its lens cap labelled Diana and its bulb flash Diana.

Several variant of the Diana have been produced under different designations (Asiana, Mirage, Panax, Zodiac, etc...). It was also proposed as a commercial gift and in such case, it was labelled with the name of the company it was advertising.

Interesting enough, Diana's camera bodies have a mould reference. For the regular Diana, this number is 151. The Diana DeLuxe has the bumber 155.

In US, the value of a regular Diana in mint condition is about 30$. In France, during the last years, these cameras had almost no value. On flea market, they were presented with ordinary stuff and their price never went over 5 euros. This was before the Toy Camera Art appeared in Japan and later in Europe. In December 2010, I found in Paris a new edition in color (White, flashy pink or blue) of the Diana at a price of 90 ~ 100 euros !
The most incredible is the fact that some people are stupid enough, to pay such a price for that...

However, for having seen some pictures made with this camera, the results in black & white are surprizing. The photo could be totally insignificant or just outstanding.

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