Lomography has released an update to the classic Diana camera, the Diana +.
The Grand History of the Diana Camera
Back in the 1960’s, a small firm in Hong Kong – the Great Wall Plastics Factory – created a dirt-cheap 120 camera called the “Diana.” Crafted entirely of plastic, each camera cost about a dollar. As a mainstream product, the Diana was pretty much a failure – and was discontinued in the 1970’s. But like any superstar cut down in their prime, the Diana’s posthumous appeal skyrocketed. As a cult artistic tool of avant-garde and lo-fi photographers, it was a rousing success! They loved its soft & dreamy images, super-saturated colors, unpredictable blurring, and random contrast. Diana shots are raw & gritty, with a character all their own. They simply cannot be duplicated by any other camera on Earth! In short order, the Diana rose to prominence as one of the most treasured and sought-after cult analog cameras from the late 70’s onward.
Lomography's web page on the new camera, gives the above (and then some) history of the Grandma of "toy cameras," and a lot more. The Diana+ is going for $50 USD or $70 with 20 rolls of Afga 120 film. While that might seem a little a steep (although $1 a roll for 120 film is anything but!), the next closest thing is going to be a Holga, and to get one with all the features Lomography has added to their Diana, well honestly, you'd have to get at least two different Holgas from Holga Mods. Those would run you at least $30 a pop, so the Diana + actually might be a good deal, if you need those features.
"But Dragon," I hear you saying, "Features? Isn't part of the appeal of a toy camera, apart from the Wabi-Sabi of vignetting and lightleaks, the lack of features, the enforced freedom to just roll the dice and shoot? If I wanted features, shouldn't I just pick up a used high-end medium format on ebay, since the pros seem to be dropping them like names at a country club?"
And I hear you, I really do. That forced simplicity IS a lot of the appeal of toy-cameras for me. But another appeal is the how easy it is to mod these cameras yourself. Back in college, I had two Holgas, one pretty much standard, except with some interior flocking and tricked out to do 6x6 frames instead of 6x4.5. The other was hacked with a pin-hole, and bulb setting on the shutter. Even though this was only four years ago, Holgas were cheaper then at about $16 so even a college student could afford to carry a couple around.
The new Diana + offers a tripod mount (I guess this is standard on Holgas now, though it didn't use to be), can be easily converted to a pinhole, and has a bulb setting as well as a shutter lock. So I'd say if you want to take some magically crap-tacular 120 shots, as well as experiment with roll-film pin-hole photography, the Diana + might be a good choice.
Still, I think I prefer the Holgas... $30 seems steep to me for a toy camera, $50 ? I just don't know. I don't think I'd use the extras that much... plus I kinda enjoy tinkering with them myself.