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digital conversion of Diana camera

Greeting Chieh,

I have just found your website and thought I would ask a question directly.
Always loved shooting with Diana camera a long time ago. Then gave up my darkroom and film processing also.

What is the possibility of taking a Diana lens, or with the body and modifying it to become a high mega pixel digital camera. I am no scientist here and have never seen any blog nor website addressing the possibilities. I would assume to maintain the nice darkened 4 corner dreamy edged frame the focus would be reduced to fit in the middle of the 35 mm rectangle with some black bars upon the sides from lack of light? If that idea sounds like a extreme conversion then what about the option of modifying the Jam Cam (cheap early digital camera with plastic lens) and revamping the sensors and electronics to become a megapixel version.

I am amazed with the re-found popularity of the Diana that nobody is manufacturing and selling a digital version.

Thank you Chieh for your consideration,
I am completely without resources to understand if these modifications are possible.

Christopher Tichacek
Fri, 20 Mar 2009 20:36:11 +0000

Hello Christopher,

this could have been my request, too - I wonder if it is possible to build an "analogue digital camera" - I love to take my old cameras, but to have the possibility of taking digital pictures with them would be great.
I�ll be thinking on on this - If you�ve any Idea, perhaps we couls share and invent together ;)

Stephan Hollich
Mon, 23 Apr 2012 19:32:35 +0400

Well one possibility is putting a modern digital camera inside of the shell of an older camera. This is a 1915 Kodak Pony Premo 5x7 field camera, that I took out the ground glass and lens, and put in my Olympus E-P2. Note, I could easily put the lens and ground glass back in: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

However, I no longer use that as much, as I'm starting to see wear and tear on the Premo. Also, I do some outdoor events, and neither the E-P2 nor the Pony are particularly weather resistant. So, in the last two years, I have been making my own shells to go around my Olympus E-5. Here is the latest version: . . . . . .

In terms of camera hacks, I had a telegraph key on previous generations of the camera as a prop. I would use the spiel that it was my CEL system, Chat with the telegraph, Envision with the camera, and Locate myself with the sextant and compass, but I had enough people ask about firing the camera with the telegraph key, and I've now hooked it into the wired shutter release.

In terms modifying an existing camera, the simplest approach is just to put a shell around the camera. If you are skilled electronics tech with plenty of free time, you might be able to hack an existing camera's controls, but it is probably going to be a lot of work. You might want to start with a Canon that has been hacked with CHDK or the Panasonic cameras whose firmware has been hacked.

An alternative is to go the Arduino route, and build your own camera. You can get image sensors that use a pinhole lens that can do video. I suspect the image quality for stills won't be that great.

Michael Meissner
Thu, 24 May 2012 07:13:18 +0400

Thanks for sharing your experiments. They look rather nifty. I'm adding a thumbnail of you pic for indexing.

Attached Image:


Chieh Cheng
Thu, 24 May 2012 10:35:09 +0400

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