holga vs. diana: fight!


Holga Blog wrote a technical review of both the Holga and Diana, comparing the various specs. It’s pretty in-depth and I found it an interesting read. Ultimately he comes to the same conclusion I do: Why choose? Like me, he owns both.

It’s hard to explain the differences between the two, especially since the flaws in such poorly-made cameras tend to vary widely. For myself, I find that the Diana (shooting medium format film) has more obvious vignetting, and the focus tends to be more uniformly off. Sometimes photos taken with my Diana almost look like they were taken underwater. The Holga, on the other hand, has a really interesting center focus/blurred edge effect; as well as more light leakage (which can be considered either a plus or a minus; I would list it as the former).

For me, it’s not about what the finished product looks like, anyway. They both shoot unpredictable and weirdly lovely photos. It’s more about what the shooting situation requires. I think of the Diana as a higher maintenance camera: The flash is not integrated, it’s almost as big as the camera itself*, color gels have to be manually inserted, the lens sticks out more, it’s a bright teal color. It’s more noticable, and it takes more time. I like to use it in situations where speed or conspicuousness is not an issue: in graveyards, or taking photos of buildings, say. Or any place where photo taking is expected and lots of other people will be doing it — next time I go to the Winchester Mystery House I am definitely taking my Diana.

My Holga has an integrated flash with a color wheel (although not all models do), so there’s less set up for situations that require a flash. It’s also black and has a lens that sits more flush to the body of the camera, so it feels more inconspicuous. I like it for candid photos (especially of people I do not know); and photos inside of commercial or public locations, where you never know how people are going to react.

I had planned to take just my Holga to Louisiana, since I had the Diana at Christmas and shot a couple rolls with it. But I think I’ll have room for the Diana, and I didn’t have the flash last year (and it offers many more colors than the Holga color wheel — a dozen gels as opposed to just green, red, and yellow), so I may decide to bring her along, too.

*You can use a hotshoe adaptor and use any conventional (and smaller) flash with the Diana. But I actually like the retro look and feel of the large Diana 2-pin flash.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anders
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 14:51:35

    Hi! Nice reading!
    Do you have some pictures to compare the quality of the two cameras?

  2. pinstripebindi
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 15:04:09

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