Panoramic photography has been in use since its invention in the 1840s. In the latter days of the 19th and early in the 20th century, the craft was as keenly exploited.
These days 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 from Super Wide Angle to Rotating lens, such as Horizon S3 Pro, Widelux and Noblex Pro Cameras, but I am going to cover the Super Wide Angle Lens Cameras, 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 617S III
The Linhof Technorama 617s III 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 Technorama 617s III 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 unique Linhof Technorama 617s III camera system revolves around five distinct lenses and dedicated optical viewfinders for critical compositions and a range of perspectives to champion the elongated format that is well-suited to landscape, industrial, and architectural photography. Each of the lenses, ranging from a wide-angle 72mm f/5.6 including 90mm, 110mm, 180mm and a telephoto-length 250mm f/5.6, is set within a dedicated helical focusing mount for precise control over focus. Since the lenses are centrally-mounted, horizon curvature is also eliminated, allowing for more naturally appearing panoramic images. The Technorama 617s III integrates a dark slide system that permits the changing of lenses mid-roll, and each of the lenses is easily attached to the body by using front-mount knurled wheels. Also incorporated into the body are two accessory shoes; one is centrally located for use with the optical viewfinders and the other for mounting a flash or other shoe-mounted accessory.
- Panoramic 6 x 17cm format large format handheld camera.
- Accepts 120 or 220 roll film for taking either four or eight exposures per roll, respectively.
- Die-cast aluminum alloy body construction is lightweight while still offering rigidity and durability for use in all conditions.
- Dark slide system and red safety indicator on camera back permits mid-roll lens changing.
- Manual film counter and film winding knob.
- Compatible with five dedicated lenses and optical viewfinders.
On the heels of the successful SW-612 series, the Horseman SW-617 Standard and Pro Camera incorporates many of the winning elements of its predecessors. Horseman boasting a long history and tradition as a medium and large format camera manufacturer, has created the super panorama camera in their SW series, the “Horseman SW617 Professional”. Its features include an ultra wide 6 x 17 cm image with the high image quality of large-sized photographs and camera movements to allow even more professional rendering of images. The optional ground glass back also allows critical focusing and compositioning. Choose from six types of dedicated lens units to support a variety of scenes. The Horseman SW617 Pro gives you the freedom of rise and fall movements up to a maximum of 34mm (Rise / upward direction: 17mm, Fall / downward direction:17 mm), which can be achieved by moving the lens up and down. This enables natural perspective control that is effective in architectural and interior photography. Horseman SW617 roll film holders are available in two formats, 6 x 17cm (120 roll film / 4 exposures) and 6 x 12cm (120 roll film / 6 exposures), and can be attached to the back of the camera unit. The locking levers on either side of the camera body enable you to attach and detach them. Providing an extra roll film holder in advance will allow you to take your next photograph immediately, without having to load another film. You can attach an optional ground glass back for the critical focusing and compositioning to the place the roll film holder is mounted. The Horseman SW617 Pro lens unit lineup features a total of six types of lens units from two renowned German brands, Schneider and Rodenstock, who pride themselves on their state-of-the-art imaging capability. In addition, Horseman has independently developed a dedicated helical mount to produce high accuracy in visual measurements. Each lens comes with a distance scale and a depth-of-field scale, these lenses span the range from 72mm to 250mm. Horseman sets these lenses in their own precisely-engineered helical focusing mounts, that in turn, are attached to a lens cone appropriate for the lens. Focusing a lens on the SW-617 is aided by an accurate distance and depth-of-field scale on the helicoid, otherwise scale-focusing can be bypassed by substituting the film back with an optional ground glass back (#21466) for the most accurate focus and composition.
- Optional Lenses: Schneider Super-Angulon XL 72mm f/5.6, Schneider Super-Angulon XL 90mm f/5.6, Rodenstock Grandagon-N 90mm f/6.8, Schneider Apo-Symmar 180mm f/5.6, Rodenstock Apo Sironar-S 180mm f/5.6, Schneider Tele-Xenar 250mm f/5.6
- Interchangeable lens/film back, wide-angle camera with vertical shift movements
- Vertical shift 34mm (Rise 17mm + Fall 17mm)
- Visual focusing or ground glass focusing
- Two interchangeable film backs:
6×17 Back produces 4 images on 120 film
6×12 Back produces 6 images on 120 film
- Practical for shooting handheld
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.
- “Express Your Panoramic Ambitions”
- Rugged, die-cast aluminum body
- Exclusive optional grid-lines groundglass attachment for critical focusing
- Ergonomic, easy-to-handle body
- Top quality Fujinon lenses
- One-touch spool loading
Fotoman 617 MkII-L
Fotoman Camera Limited is a joint venture (Chinese, American and Canadian) manufacturing company located in Mainland China, with corporate offices located in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Founded in 1993. Specializing in Panoramic and Large format cameras. They produce 3 panoramic sizes 6X12, 6X17 and 6X24 the most sought for is the 6X17 in this range. The Fotoman 617 Mark MK11-L is unique in its ability to use almost any large format lens. Fotoman Professional designs are made of high quality materials and assembled by hand to produce a professional level product with exceptional value. Fotoman cameras featuring rugged no-nonsense construction, superior ergonomic designs, lightweight precision machined aluminum alloys, smooth helical focusing and accurate optical viewfinders. Combining these features creates cameras that fit the photographer’s hand like they fit his vision. its the special designed lens cone that Fotoman 617 provides which allows this panoramic camera to be so versatile. The Fotoman is an economical, yet very professional camera, which produces excellent results, and with an optional ground glass back aids with critical focusing. The Fotoman MkII-L lens cone and a dedicated finder readies the camera to accept an impressive range of 74 specialized and well known lenses from the Professional Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock and Schneider Lenses series displayed below.
- Film Size: 120 / Size: 56mm x 168mm images
- Film Advance: Manual, LED Lighted Ruby Window
- Focus Method: Helical Focus Mount or Optional GG-617 Ground Glass
- View Finder: 120 degree with Interchangeable Masks
- Body Material: 6061 T2 Aluminum Alloy
- Body Dimensions: 259mm width x 111mm height x 62mm depth
- Weight: 1.83kg (4.02 lbs) Body, Cone and Focus Mount
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
Seitz 6×17 Digital Panoramic
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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