Today we have something a little different. My latest camera acquisition is a Tru-View, a cheap plastic camera made by Great Wall Mfg. of Taiwan, probably in the 1970s. It’s a clone of the more well-known Diana. Great Wall made (I hesitate to say “built”–extruded? Pooped out?) the Diana in a few variations with many different trade names, for different markets, but all essentially the same camera. Simple plastic lens, three apertures, one speed. Takes 120 roll film, makes 16 small exposures. The contemporary Holga is a descendant of the Diana.
These are among the crappiest cameras ever made. I got this one for $10 on eBay. These cameras now have a certain cachet in a small niche of the photo world, and you can buy new Holgas at Urban Outfitters, for three times the price they’d be anywhere else. In fact, if my Tru-View had the Diana label, it would likely have sold for more.
In my first post, I commended the Kowa for its sharp optics. Compare a similar detail from the Tru-View scan. You will note that the Tru-View is, well, less sharp. You may also note the chromatic aberration. It doesn’t help that the Tru-View has only crude distance-scale focusing. And there’s vignetting–it can’t quite cover even the reduced 4-centimeter frame.
So what’s the appeal? For starters, they’re about as far as you can get from the clean, bright, linear world of digital cameras. You can shoot with these cameras and really, you don’t know what you’re going to get until you process the film. This particular one seems to be reasonably light tight (many are not), though it appears that the red window is letting in enough light to cause an artifact. Everything becomes instantly impressionistic and surreal. The Diana-type toy camera intrudes itself into the result, and becomes part of the process.
The only drag about having one of these is that toy cameras are kinda trendy among the artsy-hipster set, or at least the artsy-hipster wannabe set. I mean, they’re for sale at Urban Outfitters, fer cthulhu’s sake. But anything that gets a few more film cameras out the door is good, right? Maybe the thing that annoys me most is that they’re paying too much–they could get the cameras and film from Freestyle or B&H for less. At least I only paid what my camera is really worth–almost nothing.