Hassy and Diana get close.

I was wondering: is it reasonable to compare the Diana F+ to the Hasselblad 500c, or is this another foley comparison like the Barbie Videogirl versus Canon 7d? I am not sure either. The thought of writing a comparison came to mind after my posing for Victor Albrow’s series on hair, where I sat in front of his Hasselblad H2-39 and failed to understand how it was thirteen times better than my 500c + Imacon Flextight Precision II, a combo which even contains the same brands of technology. Yes my Precision II takes a while to get its 50megapixel out of a 6×6 negative, but my 500c does expose its negative at the instant that I release the shutter, whereas the H2 seems to take over ¼ of a second to do this crucial task. Curious indeed.

So, the other evening Sophie and I decided to take some pictures, and I decided to compare the Diana F+ that I had bought her to my 500c. The Diana had its 55mm+Macro lens, and I had 31mm of extension tubes behind my Planar 80/2.8. The focusing distance is rather similar as is the field of view (though this is something that only became apparent after developing).

The comparison may seem ludicrous as the Hasselblad has been one of the staples of professional photography for over 40 years, whereas the Diana is considered a “toy” camera, and has been for almost as long. However, in a day and age where most professional photography is executed with digital cameras the two analogue machines live on an analogous playing field as artistic tools, and their market values are not too far apart now either, despite the Hasselblad’s myriad of features compared to the Diana, even if one is just counting things like different shutter speeds as a feature, the Diana has a cult status which the Hasselblad seems to lack. Though in this test the only feature that gave an advantage to one camera over the other was simply the fact that the reflex meant that we could actually see what the Hasselblad was focusing on and framing, an issue that could easily be overcome with something like the Leica BOOWU macro stand (a set of legs that distance the lens from its focal point, with four legs providing a field of view). So in practice what did this mean? In framing, the Diana was guestimated, using a piece of card, 15cm long, to gauge focus; whereas with the Hasselblad there was a frustrating dance of breathing and moving back and forth to find the focal point and hope to hold it long enough to release the shutter. So in practical terms the Hasselblad was slower to use, but had a greater likelihood of being in focus. From a creative point of view I would argue that they were on par, however, as their pros and cons weighed out equally.

So do I have a conclusion? Of course there cannot be a logically technical conclusion, however I can be firm in the knowledge that I do prefer my 500c to what I saw in the H2, and that I also believe the Diana F+ to be better value for money than the current top of the line Danish / Swedish / German / Japanese machine.

Tobias Feltus: