Turn Your $3,000 DSLR into a $60 Plastic PoJ

It’s easy to turn your Nikon DSLR into a plastic PoJ

On paper, you couldn’t ever imagine turning your beloved DSLR into a plastic Piece of Junk (PoJ), but after you see the results, you might wonder why you didn’t make the conversion sooner.

Achieving this plastic goodness is a relatively pain-free modification that can be quickly and easily “undone” whenever you want to return to tack-sharp mega-pixel modernity. Although restricted to only Nikon-manufactured F mount cameras (both film and digital), this process consists of purchasing two plastic parts from the marketeers of everything that is plastic in photography–Lomography. Specifically, we’ll be using the Lomography Diana F+ camera.

What You’ll Need

Here is the list of what you’ll need. You may need to hit the second-hand market for some items, or you can get most at the Lomography store here.

  • Diana SLR Lens Adapter Nikon F (SKU: z700slrn – $14)
  • Diana F+ Camera & Flash (SKU: hp700 – $89)
    Or, if you’d like a larger assortment of Diana lenses, select this:
  • Diana Instant Square Deluxe Kit Classic Edition (SKU: dsq800 – $179.00)
  • Optional: Diana Glass Lens (SKU: z750 – $49)
Everything you'll need for converting your $3,000 Nikon DSLR into a $60 toy camera.
Everything you’ll need for converting your $3,000 Nikon DSLR into a $60 toy camera.

Yes, the same company that brought us the Holga, also manufactures the go-to hipster classic, Diana F+. And therein lies the secret sauce for this project, the Diana F+ lens is removable. Just grasp the Diana lens firmly and twist it counter-clockwise for removal. Similarly, to attach the Diana lens to the Nikon lens adapter, rotate it clockwise until it “clicks.”

Once you’ve sussed out this lens interchangeability, you’ll need the second plastic Lomography part. The aptly named “Diana F+ Lens Adapter for Nikon F Mount”, which twists onto the rear lens element of the previously-removed bargain-basement plastic optic. The result is a subtle blurry aura that Julia Margaret Cameron would have loved (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Creamy dreamy goodness with just a hint of sharpness in the center.
Figure 2. Creamy, dreamy goodness with just a hint of sharpness in the center.

Just enable your camera’s “Manual” mode for adjusting user-selectable shutter speeds, and you’re good to go. Keep in mind that Diana lenses don’t have an adjustable aperture. In fact, a variable aperture is built into the Diana camera body and not the lens. Therefore, you’ll be shooting a wide-open plastic lens lacking any depth of field.

Thankfully, you can focus your Diana lens. Before you get too excited, however, be forewarned that the adjustable lens element is deeply recessed into the lens body, as shown in Figure 3. So, deft finger manipulations are needed here to avoid smudging the plastic lens. But would a smudge here-or-there really affect the quality of your photographs? Probably not.

Figure 3. Easy-does-it when adjusting the focus on your Diana lens.
Figure 3. Easy-does-it when adjusting the focus on your Diana lens.

In actual practice, the integration of the Diana plastic lens into your photography routine can be simplified by setting the focusing element to infinity and fiddling with your camera’s shutter speed. Luckily, once you’ve mastered these minor peccadilloes and your $3,000 DSLR has morphed into a full-fledged $60 plastic lens point-and-shoot PoJ, you might even be surprised by the results. Although, maybe, you should more affectionately refer to your new plastic DSLR as “Nikana,” instead of a piece-of-junk!

The following three photos are examples of photographs taken with a Diana 55mm plastic lens.


Lomography also sells a “Diana Lens+ Premium Glass Lens” that shares the same Diana F+ mount. Therefore, readers who want to up their PoJ game can add a little glass to their brand-new $60 DSLR by swapping out the plastic lens with this pricier alternative. Here’s a comparison of the plastic Diana lens versus the premium glass offering (Figure 7).

This project only works with Nikon F Mount SLRs (both film and digital)

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