My Life in Cameras no.15

15. BANNER 

The Banner is a strange device. A clone of the classic Diana camera of the 1960s and 70s, it was produced by the Great Wall Plastic Co. of Hong Kong to be sold as toys, promotional giveaways, fairground prizes etc. Diana is the generic name of the cheap cameras produced mostly on the same assembly line, with different labels and minor modifications.

It is a primitive tool. It has almost no adjustments, annoying light leaks and dark corners due to the mismatch between the circle if illumination and the negative area. The technical flaws – the soft-focus lens, the colour fringeing, the flare and the dark edges all create a unique visual quality, a sort of instant Pictorialism. Like the Diana and the Holga, it’s a sort of subversive photography, a protest against the hi-tech precision of digital.

In addition to the Banner, there were also Diana clones called Banier, Anny, Acme, Arrow, Harrow, Liking, See, Tina, Debonair, Megomatic, Future Scientist and North American Champion. The website www.allandetrich.com has a list of over 100 clones with photos and information. Detrich has also produced a Blurb book called Diana Camera Pictorial History which shows each camera. He had probably the largest Diana collection in the world until he sold it to the Lomo company as a museum piece. Vintage Banner/Dianas are a bit rare, but Lomo now make their own “clone”, a Diana rebirth engineered with modern techniques to replicate the original. The original price of a Banner in the 60s was less than $5. They can now fetch hundreds. The Lomo Diana retails for US$52. The world has gone mad.

The Banner is a primitive tool. It has almost no adjustments, annoying light leaks and dark corners due to the mismatch between the circle if illumination and the negative area. The technical flaws – the soft-focus lens, the colour fringeing, the flare and the dark edges all create a unique visual quality, a sort of instant Pictorialism. Like the Diana and the Holga, it’s a sort of subversive photography, a protest against the hi-tech precision of digital.

Greg Neville, Milan 2000

Greg Neville, Milan 2000

Greg Neville, Milan 2000

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