6×12, 6×17, 6×24…Panoramic film cameras are highly specialized cameras rarely found in the average photographer’s bag. In fact, they belong to a market niche that is under the radar of an endangered species: film photographers, and even among them, very few are interested in wide format photography. There are at least two reasons for the limited diffusion of this type of camera: first, 6×17 cameras will force you to see differently and will deeply challenge your compositional approach. Second, there aren’t many cameras of this type on the market, and they are all big, heavy, not particularly easy to use and expensive to buy.
There are many predominant choices in 6×17 panoramic medium format, using a 56x168mm, which is (3:1 ratio) on 120 or 220 roll film. The most sought for 617 bodies are made by Linhof, Fotoman, Horseman, and by Fujifilm/Fuji; where there was previously fixed-lens cameras, these four offered several interchangeable lenses. They offered different coverage at the short and long ends of the focal length spectrum.
Linhof Best Panoramic Camera is probably the Linhof Technorama 617 SIII
The Linhof body is so extremely tough and could take a lot of abuse, I guess you could run over it with a car and would still survive. Of course, you would remove the lens first if you wanted to try this at home. On the road this medium Format camera is so convenient to travel within all continents. Whether extreme heat or biting cold – the robust camera system is something you can always rely on, The Linhof is totally mechanical without electronic features of any kind, and is therefore very simple. The Camera accepts 120 or 220 roll film adjusted by sliding its pressure plate. Four exposures with 120 roll film and eight with 220. The Linhof 617 system includes 72mm, 90mm, 110mm, 180mm and 250mm lenses.
FujiFilm/Fuji GX617 Professional
Fuji GX 617, which seams to be the most bought of the four, is less robust than the Linhof, is nevertheless well-made of more a carbon-fibre type of composite material. It’s very similar in weight and size to the Linhof, and accepts 120 or 220 rollfilm by using a reversible pressure plate. It uses a small lithium battery to operate its electronic shutter, but can also be used without battery if one uses a secondary shutter release attachment and a slightly more cumbersome means of operation. The Fuji is more user-friendly for several reasons. The back is hinged along its bottom edge for easy reloading, unlike the Linhof back which pulls completely off and must be secured in a clean and dry location while film is being reloaded. Fuji also includes a true film-winding lever rather than a quirky hand crank on the Linhof. Fuji offered 90mm, 105mm, 180mm, and 300mm lenses. The older G617 model has a fixed 105mm lens, presumably the reason why Fuji kept this lens in the present lineup.
The Hasselblad XPan 35mm Camera
Hasselblad developed a new dual-format camera concept in co-operation with Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd. Which was The Hasselblad XPan a 35 mm film based dual-format camera concept (24 x 65 mm & 24 x 36 mm). Which provides convenience and advantages of the 35 mm format, and gave additional option of being able to rapidly switch to a full panorama format without needing to changing film. The XPan uses an Fuji made lenses instead of the traditional Zeiss which are the new partners in Rodenstock/Schneider developing lenses for 6×6 medium format. The main reason for the co-operation with Fuji is the experience in marketing and development of the Fuji 617. The Hasselblad XPan feature-packed and professional grade rangefinder camera, combines the user-friendliness of modern technology with traditional Hasselblad. in a compact body and ergonomically designed. It has a robust aluminium and titanium construction and protected with synthetic rubber in the right areas and a built which will go through many years of hard workout.
The full panorama format on the Xpan is made possible by the large image circles of the two interchangeable 4/45 mm and 4/90 mm lenses. Focusing is by way of a bright-frame viewfinder and coupled rangefinder. The viewfinder information is automatic adjusted according to the focal length of lens as well as an automatic parallax adjustment for close shots. No manual adjustments are necessary, therefore changing one lens to another can be more swift and rapidly handled. Film loading is automatic and after being inserted, the film is automatically withdrawn from the cassette and transported back into the cassette after the last exposure, this will be done frame-by-frame. which is a valuable feature cleverly protects the exposed section of the film, even if the camera where to be opened by accident.The Xpan has a DX code sensor with manual override for maximum control. As the film is exposed. The Hasselblads TTL exposure meter supplies a centre-weighted reading to provide an automatic aperture-priority facility with has manual override. The camera has a single or continuous exposure mode. An LCD display located on the camera back, contains all necessary information including film speed, shutter speed and battery status. There is also another LCD provides exposure counter information, with further information being shown in the viewfinder.
A selection of panoramic photos that I have taken using an Hasselblad Xpan
This is an innovation in panoramic photography which delivers 160 million pixels in one second! Min. exposure speed of 1/2000 sec. (per pixel) – images full of speed, motion and life and a seamless digital panorama without needing stitching, delivered in a few seconds -why? ‘because time is money’ for some photographers, but before you run heading for the stores it has to be mentioned that it comes at a asking price of around $38000US, but if you are okay with that, you have the world class digital panoramic camera in your hands, which comes with: world-class large format lenses of Seitz/Schneider, Linhof 617 or Fuji 617. Outstanding image quality in virtually all light situations. With a resolution of 7,500 pixels vertically and 21,250 pixels horizontally, creates a 160 million pixel image. The Seitz 6×17 Digital is just a pleasure to work with. With ergonomical hand grips the camera is perfectly stable for handheld images. With a touch screen that can be attached to the camera body makes it so easy to operate. All the camera functions are displayed via graphical icons which are easy to understand and the screen allows perfect preview, zooming, editing and image control.
For more information on the Seitz 6×17 Digital Panoramic Camera, there official site is: www.roundshot.ch
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