110 film was designed for consumer simplicity. It came in cartridges which handled a lot of the machinery, giving 24 shots of 13x17mm negatives, most often at ISO 200. This allowed for very simple camera designs and film loading, at the expense of image quality. It's the film type I used for my first 15 years of life, but it died out when digital rose up. Until Lomography brought it back in 2017.
Lomography brought back not just 110 film, but also created a tiny version of their classic "Diana" camera called the Diana Baby. The kit comes with two lenses: the mildly-wide 24mm and the super-wide 12mm. It shoots square negatives onto cartridges of 110, which for some reason bulge out of the back and side of the camera.In all its glory
In the Lomography style, all photos are f/8 at 1/100 of a second (or bulb) and at fixed infinity focus. The camera is literally a plastic lens and shutter attached to a 110 cartridge, with a viewfinder to help you aim, and that's it. Here's what a photo taken with it looks like (using the Lomography Color Tiger film):You won't win any pixel-peeping awards here
The center is sharp, relatively, and nothing else is. There's crazy light leaks, nutso distortion, and who knows what's going on with the top of the house.Look how tiny these lenses are!
These aren't complaints: after all, this is Lomography equipment on a zombie format, but I can't help but marvel over how low-fi this setup gets. Even the "square" image format lands on the negative with such imprecision – I wonder if the film itself isn't laying flat in the camera.What the film strip looked like before I cropped it
So where does this nothing of a camera fit into the world of photography? Is it...
Just a Gimmick?
To be fair, I only bought the camera because I had some 110 film that I wanted to shoot. The original 110 cameras that have survived to today aren't exciting, at least not as exciting as this toy camera. So the gimmick-ness does exist here: I wanted to fool around with 110 film, and this camera is affordable enough to make this a low-cost possibility.
Or is it...
A street photographer's dream?
Run up and push the button! You can't get bogged down in settings because there aren't any! In that regard, yeah, this is perfect for street photos. Or at least, the type of street photos I imagine other people taking. The boring kind I make don't particularly benefit from such an imprecise camera, although it does encourage me to push myself to the type of street photos that have people in them. I haven't actually done that, but the idea is nice.
Or maybe it's...
The camera that's always with you?
Such a tiny, quick to use camera can be a serious contender for the one that's always with you no matter where you are. It's always ready to take a photo, whenever a shot materialized in front of you. I tried this out for a while, but it just made me realize how unexciting my daily life is. I apparently spend most of my life at home, work, or in my car, not doing any of those exciting hipster things that Lomographers do in their ads. This is my own failing; maybe your life is glamorous.
So the camera could just be all about...
An amazing family cam?
All my cameras eventually find themselves, sooner or later, pointed at my kid. Is the Diana Baby any easier or harder to use for that? It looks like less of a camera, which makes it easier to get natural photos of people, which is nice. And also it's easy to put in weird angles and be pretty sure you got the shot. But just be prepared for your family and friends to ask you why all the photos of your kid look like they were shot in the 1980s.
But really, this camera's true calling is...
To Be Creative
The Lomography spirit is all about free-spirit wild-child hipster bullshit, but they're actually on to something here. A camera like this really does free you from all worries about whether or not you've "got the shot" because of course you didn't, you're using a trashcam with trash film! The Diana Baby isn't a serious camera – even by Lomography standards the image quality looks more like impressionistic pointillism than a visual recording of the world. You are now liberated to do whatever! I haven't done enough with this camera. Quadruple exposures, 60-second hand-held bulb shots, shoving the camera into the face of strangers – I've done none of this. All I did was walk and drive around with the camera taking photos of the same old stuff and already my photos are insane. Imagine what I could do if I was even more creative!Lens flare control, however, is remarkable
So if you're toying with the idea of getting this camera, I can't recommend it enough. The cost is dirt cheap, and the creative potential is huge. Even if you only ever end up running a few cartridges of film through it, it'll have been such a rewarding challenge, pushing your own boundaries to try out new techniques and styles, that you'll see improvement in the rest of your work as well.