Thursday, December 31, 2009

Handmade panoramic cameras by Dirk Fletcher

In this last post of this year, I wish to mention about the  handmade panoramic cameras I first came across, and which somewhat kindled my interest  in panoramic cameras and  panoramic photography in general.

I first saw these  two cameras in Robert Monaghan's site about five years ago. These are handcrafted by eminent professional photographer Dirk Fletcher.

The camera at the left was made from three bodies of Pentax K1000 and fitted with a 65mm f/8 Super Angulon on a focusing mount which yields  a 24cm x 4.5 inch original that could be printed in a 4x5 enlarger. The design and fabrication of this camera predates the Hasselblad Xpan. It took  Mr. Fletcher a good amount of work to  uncouple the clutch mechanism from the rewind mechanism of the K1000.

The bigger camera at the right  is based on a 6x17 torpedo back with the front of 2x3 anniversary speed graphic that was fitted with a 90mm f/5.6 Schneider Super Angulon. It used a grip from a Linhof Technika three and a masked finder from a 25mm Canon rangefinder lens.

I thank Mr. Fletcher for allowing me to use this picture and for providing the details of construction of these two cameras.

To know more about Dirk Fletcher's work visit his website

Mr. Fletcher also maintains an interesting blog on different technical and inspirational aspects of photography including camera modifications.

Last but not the least, I wish all visitors of this blog across the world a very happy new year. Thanks to you all, who supported this blog by providing pictures, information, comments and encouraging words. Thanks are particularly due to Olaf Matthes, Matt Sampson and Gildas Le Lostec.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Another Matt Sampson ingenuity: A great Mamiya 6x12 conversion

In another brilliant 6x12 panoramic conversion Matt Sampson used the film holder from a Mamiya Press 6x9. The camera also uses a 65mm. lens from the said camera.  

The modified 6x12 camera required a new pressure plate because that of the Press camera covers  only 6x9 and 6x7 format. Matt replaced it with a new piece,  handcrafted from sheet aluminium. In the earlier model the helicoid mounted lens was fitted to the camera body with the help of a plywood box. The later version mounts the helicoid on an aluminium plate mounted to the box.

To know more about the construction details of the camera and in Matt's own words, visit this forum post

Visit to view many beautiful examples of panoramic photographs taken by this camera

I thank Matt for allowing me to use the pictures and for some very helpful pointers. I also thank Olaf Matthes for bringing this camera to my attention.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A 4x10 panoramic camera!!!!!

Panoramic cameras come in all varieties so far film size is concerned, from subminiature to ultra large formats. Though smaller format cameras are easy to handle, photographers who need quality negatives hardly ever compromise with large format.

I recently came across a grand 4x10 camera handmade by Mr. Matt Sampson. This camera also finds mention in Lee Frost's book  'Panoramic Photography'.

This camera is mostly made of wood and uses Schneider 121/8 Super Angulon lens in a Schneider helical mount on an Ebony top hat panel. According to Matt, he originally designed the camera around a Schneider 90XL lens with the 121mm as a second option,  however  the 90mm was too wide for most cases and so the 121 is used now.

The focussing ground glass was made by Satin Snow of US. Matt suggested that a magnifying plastic fresnel, commonly available from bookstores or overhead projector fresnel might be a low cost alternative for composition, though it may be too coarse for focussing.

To keep the system handmade as much as possible, the darkslides too were made by Matt himself by joining two conventional 5x4 slides together end to end and reinforcing with metal angle. The sheaths are a sandwich of thin ply and tinfoil. Making the slides light tight was a difficult job but was successful eventually(Click the picture at right)

Visit Matt's website to view the galleries and many examples of panoramic shots taken by different handmade panoramic cameras. An example picture of the Bat's Head taken by this camera is provided below.

I thank Matt very much for his generousity in  providing the pictures, the details of the camera and for his encouraging words. I'll write about his other handmade camera in my next post. Thanks to Olaf Matthes for pointing me  to this source of information.

Mamiya based 6x12 panoramic camera

This is a great 6x12  camera handcrafted by Steven Icanberry. This camera is based on a 6x9 Mamiya roll film holder. Steve added an automatic film counter and hence one can use 220 roll film as well,to  get 12 exposures per roll. The camera is easy to load, lightweight and well balanced. The present version is equipped with a Mamiya Sekor 75mm 5.6 lens. A newer version with Schneider Angulon is expected soon.

To know more about this camera and other handmade camera's of Steven visit his site

To see more pics of this and other cameras he made, visit the camera gallery.

I thank Steven for allowing me to use this pictures and for his encouraging words. Thanks are also due to Olaf Matthes for bringing this camera to my attention.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The charm of palladium/platinum prints

Though this post is not about panoramic photography but on something I like no less than panoramas and that is palladium/platinum printing.

See some  mindblowing pics taken by award winning photographer Beth Dow. Her website being

Read her short biography here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Voyager panoramic camera

The Voyager is a slit-scan rotational panoramic camera that uses 120 roll film and can use 28mm or 50mm Nikkor lenses. The exposure time can be varied from 1/125 to 2 seconds. The body is made of solid aluminium. The camera comes with a remote control that allows the photographer to actuate it at a particular moment and avoid his inclusion in the frame.

The camera is designed and fabricated by Mr. Gildas Le Lostec. The details of this camera can be found here. Do visit the gallery of captivating panoramas taken by this camera. More information can be found in  Gildas' web site

I thank Mr. Gildas Le Lostec for providing the details of this and some other cameras and permission to use the picture. 

More panoramic film formats

Here goes some scanned negatives from three different panoramic cameras. The top one is from the handmade 24x72 followed by Nipan's 24x112mm and finally Cyclops WideEye 55x155mm. The first two cameras are handmade by Olaf Matthes. To have look at some more transparencies taken by other panoramic cameras check these posts. The picture is kindly provided by Mr. Matthes.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thomas Roma's 6x9

Some days ago I found an older version of Thomas Roma's camera. This is a 6x9 camera with Mamiya Sekor 65mm obejective. To know about more of Roma's 6x9 see this post. A video clip of a recent version of this camera can be seen in this post.

Thanks to Olaf Matthes for pointing to the source of this information and I sincerely acknowledge noted photographer Mr. Jørund Aase for permitting me to use this pic. You can visit his gallery at:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

On Robert Monaghan's medium format web site

Most of us surely have visited Bob Monaghan's encyclopedic medium format site a great number of times. Unfortunately I've seen in recent past, some of the great articles were no longer available from the site as the corresponding html pages became nonexistent.

I got very much delighted to see that most if not all pages are archived now and some classic articles are again available for reading.

The whole archive is available from here .

There are several articles related to panoramic photography available from the archive, and I'm just mentioning a few of them here. Look for related articles to learn more.

Postcard 6x12 panoramic

Vistashift 6x12 panoramic

Medium format panoramics