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A Panoramic Camera

21.02.2017

Some years back, we published an article showing some panoramic pictures taken with a handmade panoramic camera. We also said that in time we would publish an article on the construction of this camera, but we were putting it off for several reasons, the main being one that building this camera is a demanding task and we wanted to publish some simpler articles first. Nevertheless, many readers continued to write to us asking when this article would be published, pressing us for its publication, reproaching us, even if amiably, because we hadn’t done it yet. Well we could delay no longer so here it is. If the fabrication of this camera is too demanding, please forgive us and make note that we have also supplied some simpler methods for making panoramic pictures.

Perhaps you’ve experienced this: you’ve shot some pictures of magnificent landscapes but when you see your prints they are unable to return even a faint resemblance of its beauty, its spaces, or its colors and lights. How many times have you seen a mountain turned into a molehill, an вражає building into a modest house, a street into an alley? You wish you could stretch its borders to see a wider space. In this article, we will describe how to build a panoramic camera with which finally you will be able to obtain in a print what your eye has seen, in particular the right proportions of objects and the charm of a wide-angle view. While beautiful things have a price — the fabrication of this machine is not within everyone’s ability and the cost of large format prints is quite high — be assured that it is worth it because of the breathtaking pictures which can be obtained!

How was born this camera? As we said in the передмові, when viewing our pictures we felt they needed to be wider. We ставимося’t know if it was technically possible but the wish became stronger and stronger and we started to take «panoramic pictures» composed of several photographs placed side-by-side. We simply shot a series of pictures, «panning» across our view, making sure that the individual shots overlapped each other. Then we glued the prints, matching the overlaps, to obtain a comprehensive view. The collage was far more agreeable than each picture alone. From the collage emerged a sense of space which could not be supplied by a single picture. It was confirmed that by broadening the borders of photographs it was possible to gain much in their charm. However, the system of collage was not satisfactory, first of all because the interruption between one picture and the next broke the enchantment. Крім того, the prints could not always be well aligned or matched to each other in focus and exposure. Finally, buildings represented by multiple shots had their orthogonal lines broken. To solve these problems, we thought to build a camera with a rotating objective and the film arranged in a cylindrical way. We hadn’t the faintest idea if this type of camera would work nor did we know that this basic design had been in use since Friedrich von Martins’ «Megaskop» camera in 1844. It becomes increasingly difficult to invent something new so we contented ourselves with reinventing an inexpensive camera of exceptional performance.

When we started to design and build this camera, those who saw the prototype under construction shook their heads as if to say it would never work. Nonetheless, we went ahead thinking that at least this was an interesting optical experiment. After several months we completed the camera and made some tests, the results of which were far beyond our expectations. When we showed the first pictures to our friends and colleagues who before were so skeptical, they were stupefied and started to revise their theories and to explain me how it was possible that this camera was working. and it worked well indeed!

There are three main types of panoramic camera: widefield — a wide angle and objective wide film; swing lens — a camera with a rotating objective; rotation camera — a camera with a rotating body and synchronized moving film.

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