Panoramic Photography

The Camera

The camera used for these photographs is a Horozon 202, advertised by a various dealers in magazines such as Shutterbug, and also available through the Web. The Horizon is a true panoramic camera. Like other swing lens cameras (the Widelux and Noblex) the camera's lens moves through an arc -- 120 degrees in the case of the Horizon. The film plane is curved and yields a frame size of 24mm x 58mm, which allows it to be printed in any enlarger that will handle 2 1/4 square negatives. Most 35mm cameras that claim to be panoramic actually mask the standard 24mm x 36mm frame, so that the exposed area is only a fraction of the original frame size. Disposable panoramic camers have a fixed mask.

The lens on the Horizon is 28mm, which makes it convenient for working with a wide hyperfocal distance (there are no focus controls). However, it IS a 28mm lens, which means that "Objects in the viewfinder are smaller than they appear." When composing your shot, look for a strong compositional element on which to "anchor" your photograph. Although pretty much the case with all panoramic pictures, the short focal length of the Horizon makes this especially true. If you look at my photos, you'll see that the ones with an obvious strong visual element "work" best.

The built-in level is a must for a swing-lens camera. Use it! When you tilt the camera back, the sides seem to curve up -- the "punchbowl effect". When you tilt the camera down, the center bows up in the frame, producing the "end of the world effect". A tripod helps you control this, as will a monopod -- most of the time I try to use one of Porter's CamCanes.

The Horizon features:

  • Mechanical shutter, swing lens design covering 120 degrees horizontally and 45 degrees vertically. Built-in level visible from top or in viewfinder.
  • 28mm f/2.8 lens (hyperfocal from 5.5 meters wide open, to 1 meter at f/16)
  • Shutter speeds (in two ranges) 1/2, 1/4, 1/8…1/60, 1/125, 1/250.

Horizon 202 in Redwood National Park, on a Bogen 3221 tripod with a #470 mini geared head.



Shot with a Minox C using Minopan 100 (Agfa) film

Film, Scanning, etc.

I've used several types of film in the albums posted here:
-- ASA 200 color print film was used for some of the DC area photos, and the September, 2000 UK trip.
-- Fuji Super HG 1600 film was used for the Inner Spaces album, the November, 2000 UK trip and several others. With a 3 f-stop ND filter, I can use this fim indoors and out. This film is becoming my standard load.
-- When I first started using the camera I used slide film (Golden Gate Bridge pictures). However, I switched to print film to take advantage of the wide exposure latitude. Also, I can get sleeved negatives in an hour almost anywhere...The only caution is that you have to remind the operator that the negatives are an unusual size. I just happened to return to the Ritz store (Seven Corners Center in Falls Church, VA) to watch the operator slice right through the center of some frames. He tried to explain that his actions were due to the unusual size of the frames. What incredible logic!!
Negatives are scanned at either 1200 or 2400 ppi on an HP PhotoSmart S20 film scanner. They have been initally saved either as TIFF or PSD (proprietary Adobe compression format). After spotting and other adjustments, I scaled the pictures to about 8 inches in width using PhotoShop and converted them to JPEGs. Then they are resampled to either 150, 100, or 75ppi but with the same "dimensions". The first scans are quite large -- a 2400 ppi TFF file can run between 37MB and 39MB!!

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