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Background


The Diana Mini from Lomography is a plastic toy 35mm camera that takes square pictures. 

It's a fun camera, but occasionally it has a couple of repair issues.  Fortunately, the most common ones are pretty easy to fix. 

Let's see how to repair a stuck shutter.

I accept no liability if you break your camera, make it worse, or anything else that might happen.  Use this info at your own risk.


A Quick Note


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In This Article

How To Know If The Shutter Sticks?

How To Apply The Graphite

Other Notes


Conclusion





How to Know If The Shutter Sticks

When there is film in the camera, the open shutter looks exactly like the closed shutter.   From the outside, you can't know whether the shutter works unless there is no film in the camera and you can open the back.

This is very unusual.  With most lenses, you can see the shutter if you tilt the lens until the light hits it just right.  Not so with the 'Mini.  How that's possible, I still don't even know.

The only way to see if your shutter is not opening is to remove the back, remove the film, open the film gate, and hold the camera up to the light.  If you want to save the film, pay attention to which shot you were on (film counter) and wind it back into the canister.  You may need to remove the film-canister lid in total darkness (bottle opener) to retrieve the film leader again.  You'll need the film leader if you want to reload the film and wind back to the picture where you left off.

Now that the film is out of the camera, it's time to see if the shutter works.

Using Bulb mode, press the shutter release lever and hold it there.   Do this in front of a bright light, so you can see straight through the aperture into the light source.  Now it will be obvious whether your shutter is working.




Shutter Open

(Bulb setting)


Try it again in Normal mode.  The shutter is slow enough that you should see a brief glimpse of light through the aperture.

If the shutter doesn't work, it's time for some graphite.




How To Apply The Graphite


Get a tube of graphite powder, the kind used in locks. 

It also helps if you have some rubbing alcohol.  (Don't use anything else, because it could melt the plastic!)

Do this outside, just in case you spill the graphite powder. (Just don't try it when it's 10 degrees Fahrenheit outside, because the plastic will get extremely brittle at low temperatures. ) 

I say "outside", because once you get graphite on a carpet or something, it is very tough to remove completely.   Forewarned!

(If you're going to try to repair a camera, hopefully you will have a workspace where you can do actual work... complete with dirt & grime.)

Shake the tube to stir up the graphite dust.  This will make a fine suspension of graphite in the air space inside the tube.

Now, squeeze the tube of graphite to puff some graphite powder directly onto the shutter blades.   Don't go overboard here;  just a couple of light applications of graphite.  It doesn't take much.

Try to actuate the shutter a few times in Normal mode.  If this doesn't work, blow all the graphite dust away.  Then, put one or two drops of the rubbing alcohol on the shutter.  Try to work the shutter before the alcohol evaporates.  Whether it opens or not, let it dry completely and try the graphite again.




See that curved line?  That's the edge of one of the shutter leaves.   You may need to nudge that a bit with a toothpick while engaging the shutter release in Bulb mode.




Other Notes

It takes only a small amount of graphite to keep the shutter blades from sticking. 

Make sure you don't leave excess graphite in the camera.  It will get on your film and leave spots.   Don't worry if some graphite sticks permanently to the shutter, though;  actually, that's good.

If you can't seem to free up the shutter blades, try the alcohol method a couple times.  If that fails, you may have to use something to nudge the edge of the shutter blade while you press the shutter lever.  A toothpick should work.  Try to avoid using steel, because you might scratch the shutter blades.  Scratches might make the shutter more likely to stick again.

If you use a toothpick, push sideways, not down into the shutter blades.  If you bend the shutter blades, they might get ruined.




Conclusion

The Diana Mini is a fun little camera.  It's not the most robust thing I've ever seen, but if you're careful with it, you should be able to use it without any permanent malfunctions.  (In a future article, maybe I'll include some notes on fixing the film-advance problem. )

Although I don't think of its repair issues as all that difficult, this camera is not for everyone.  If you find the repairs to be intimidating, you might be better off going for a Holga 120, a Holga 135, or a La Sardina (review here). 

Even so, the Diana Mini is fun and unique.  It's the only 35mm camera I can think of that takes square pictures.

In this article we've looked at how to repair a stuck shutter.  If you found this page helpful, please help me keep this site going by purchasing any of your stuff through the links on here.  It doesn't add anything to the price, and it's much appreciated.



         


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