Beginner’s Guide to Diana F+

This will not be a comprehensive guide covering everything about the Diana F+. But I thought it would be useful to do up a tutorial of sorts to give a head start to those who are new to it, especially with it being a 120mm camera.

I was stumped when I first got the Diana F+, cos I’ve only been fiddling with 35mm cameras all these while. Initial reactions include, “Where’s the film counter?”, “How do I load the film?”, “How far do I wind?”, etc.

Diana F+ (w/o flash)

Say hello to our main lead

So to save you guys and myself (lest I forget how to operate the camera) the trouble, here’s my humble and hopefully handy guide on the Diana F+.

Disclaimer: I’m assuming you guys have some basic knowledge of analogue/toy cameras and the functionality of the Diana F+ such as focus, exposure and settings.

First up, let’s start with one of the main features of the Diana F+. It is capable of taking either 12 or 16 exposures. You can do so by making use of the frame masks that comes along with the camera.

The two Diana F+ frame masks

There they are, those flimsy looking frames. If you look closely, there are some numbers engraved on them. One reads 46.5 x 46.5 while the other reads 42 x 42. You can slot either of these frames into your camera if you intend to take 16 shots. If you prefer the 12 shots option, there is no need to install any frames whatsoever.

Still with me? I’ll just summarize it over here:
No frame mask: 12 shots
42 x 42 frame mask: 16 shots
46.5 x 46.5 frame mask: 16 shots of endless panorama

I’ll get to endless panorama in a minute. Let’s just show you where in your Diana F+ to slot them things.

Here is where you slot in the frames if you wish to.

Here i am slotting the frame in. Notice the edges pointing out from the bottom of the frame mask? There is where you slot them into the camera’s grooves to secure them.

Installing frame mask in progress

What’s the difference between 12 and 16 you ask? The dimensions of the photo. The 12 shots option yields a photo that measures 5.2cm by 5.2cm while the 16 churns out 4.2cm by 4.2cm photos.

As for endless panorama, each frame measures 4.6cm by 4.6cm which is suppose to link up the subsequent frames seamlessly. Here is a sample I nicked off the net.

Picture courtesy of

I’ve not tried it so far but here’s a rough guide to taking panoramas. Remember a reference point on the edge of the view finder when you’re taking a picture. Take the shot and shift left/right horizontally such that the reference point is now at the opposite side of the view finder. Take the shot and repeat till fade.

Frame inserted or otherwise, it’s time to load the film. Do so by first removing the back cover of the Diana F+. You will notice a take-up spool which you will have to remove from the camera. Do be gentle when doing so as you do not want to break the spool holder.

The take-up spool for collecting the film

Time to unfurl the film and slot it into the take-up spool.

Unfurling the 120mm film

Slotting the film into the take-up spool

Take up a little bit of the film by rolling up the take-up spool slightly. After which, you can begin loading the film into the camera. Once again, take care not to exert too much force on the spool holder.

First load the film spool into the left slot, then the take-up spool onto the right

Voila! Loading complete!

Now the small matter of fixing up the back cover and you’re ready to go. But before that, make sure to set the 12/16 shots option correctly on the back cover. Note that once the option is set and shooting has begun, there is no way to switch modes.

Arrow pointing to 16 means the you can take up to 16 shots.

Once you’ve checked that it is the correct setting, fix up and lock the back cover. Start advance the film until you see the number “1” through the red tinted window on the back cover. The 1 indicates it’s the first frame. Yes, this is the “film counter” of the Diana F+.

Look through the tinted window to know which frame you’re on.

After taking a shot in the first frame, slowly advance the film and you will see a series of dots through the tinted window. As the dots increase in size, it means you are close to advancing into the next frame. Stop when you see the next number in the middle of the tinted window. Repeat for the next shot, so on and so for.

Thus concludes my tutorial for the Diana F+. I won’t be going through unloading as it’s fairly simple. Just make sure you have a small piece of tape to secure the film to prevent it from being exposed.

Feel free to leave your comments and queries on any aspect of this tutorial. Happy shooting!


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7 responses to “Beginner’s Guide to Diana F+”

  1. Adorabelle says :

    What if in the red window two numbers show up? Did I do something wrong? Or is the film just like that sometimes. aha

    • jusstdesserts says :

      Hi Adorabelle, are the 2 numbers the same? I don’t think it is possible to have for example, 5 and 6 in the same window as the numbers are separated by dots and dashes.
      It will be great if you have a photo of what you encountered.

      • Adorabelle says :

        The two numbers are the same. It’s really weird.

        If you email me, I can send you a picture of the numbers in the red window.

        I’m on my iPhone so it won’t let me send a picture through here… :[

      • jusstdesserts says :

        Oh if they are the same then it’s fine. Just checked the roll in my Diana now and it has two 11, one horizontal and the other vertical.

  2. Adorabelle says :

    But both of the ones are vertical. And they’re on top of each other….

    • jusstdesserts says :

      I’m sure it’s fine. Different films have their frame numbers in different orientations. As long as you know which frame u are on, it’s all good.

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