Lomography Diana Instant Square
Shop.Lomography | $99.00

The Diana Instant Square camera from Lomography mashes the charm of a Diana F+ toy film camera with the novelty of the Instax Square format. Lomography has long offered an instant back for the F+, but this takes the concept a step further. The Diana Instant Square is the only instant camera with truly interchangeable lenses and like most Lomography products, offers unpredictable and often lo-fi results.

Key specifications:

  • 75mm F11 (38mm equiv.) kit lens
  • 1/100 sec fixed shutter speed
  • Four aperture settings
  • Zone focus
  • Removable viewfinder
  • Auto frame counter
  • Double exposure and bulb mode
  • Attachment flash (sold separately)

Compared to peers

See our complete instant camera guide

The most obvious competitor to the Diana Instant Square is the Fujifilm SQ6 - it also uses Instax Square format at a similar price tag. But unlike the Diana - which is manual focus with manual aperture control - the Fujifilm is more automatic in its operation.

Operation

The camera operates on four AAA batteries that you load into the bottom, and a pack of Instax Square film pops into the rear of the camera. The camera has three settings: Off, On and MX (multiple exposure). When you turn it on the film counter on the back glows green to show you how many shots you have left. It ships with an optional viewfinder that slides onto the top.

Before you shoot you will probably want to triple check that you aren’t in pinhole mode, which my camera kept seeming to click into

Shooting with the camera is very straightforward. The lever to select your aperture is found on the bottom of the lens. Aperture settings are cloudy (F11), partly sunny (F19), sunny (F32) and pinhole (F150).

Left of the lens is the shutter release, on top is a shutter speed toggle (1/100 sec or bulb) and below the lens is a lever to adjust the aperture setting. Focus is set on the front of the lens.

Focus settings are found on the front of the lens and can be set to one person (1-2m), a small group of people (2-4m) or many people with mountains (4m - infinity). On the top of the lens you will find a lever to switch shutter speeds - there are two options: N (1/100 sec) and B (Bulb Mode, Unlimited). The camera’s shutter release is found on the right side of the lens. Before you shoot you will probably want to triple check that you aren’t in pinhole mode, which my camera kept seeming to click into.

Usability

The body is large and chunky.

The Diana Instant Square is more of a toy than an actual photographic tool, and although operating it is quite simple, getting it to produce images that you actually want to share with the world takes some finesse. The results were certainly unpredictable.

The Diana Instant Square seemed to work best when shooting outdoors, without a flash on very bright days. Although you have the option to attach any type of flash, the dedicated Diana F+ flash made the camera feel the most balanced. The results when shooting with the flash were also unpredictable. Sometimes photos turned out totally overblown, and other times they shot out totally black even when the settings on the camera were altered slightly. The Diana Instant Square essentially seems to do what it wants.

Getting the Diana Instant Square to produce images that you actually want to share with the world takes some finessing

A few times the back door that keeps the film in place popped open on me, so I decided to secure it with a large piece of gaff tape. Unfortunately, when this happened I ended up losing a few of the Instax sheets inside and it reset my film counter. The metal levers that control shutter speed and aperture are covered with a small piece of plastic; the one on the aperture lever fell off almost immediately, exposing the metal edge. It isn’t particularly sharp, but over time I did notice that the lever began to bend.

Image Quality

A multi-exposure example from the Diana Instant Square.

The image quality of the Diana Instant Square was expectedly unpredictable. Sometimes I ended up with a double exposure that I didn’t expect, some images had major vignetting, and others had interesting focal fall off that gave them a dreamy quality.

The Diana Instant Square seemed to work best when shooting outdoors, without a flash on very bright days

Sometimes frames that appeared totally black could be rescued once they were scanned and photoshopped. Other frames came back totally overblown or completely dark. When it worked, it worked well, but getting it to work was a bit of a guessing game.

Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

Conclusion

If you're a perfectionist or a control freak, you are better off shooting with a different instant camera. Similarly, for the money, there are far better-built options. But if you can lean into the camera's unpredictability, appreciate its history or like the aesthetics of Diana’s plastic lenses, this kitschy camera might be for you.

Ultimately we had a lot of fun with the Diana Instant Square when the shots came out, but it hurt a bit every time one didn’t.

What we like:

  • Classic look of the Diana Camera
  • Manual exposure control
  • Double-exposure mode
  • Interchangeable lenses

What we don't:

  • Fiddly controls are easy to knock
  • Manually driven focus
  • Unpredictable exposure results
  • Accessory flash needed for indoors Flimsy build quality