Panoramic cameras are able to capture much wider images -- such as the Grand Canyon or a city skyline -- than traditional cameras with wide-angle lenses. They can help amateur and professional photographers alike give perspective to landscapes for the viewer.
Soon after the creation of the first cameras, an Austrian inventor applied for a patent for the first panoramic camera, but this camera essentially exposed a series of images that then could be combined to create the panoramic effect. The camera and its successors pivoted around to expose overlapping images. It wasn’t until the advent of film, rather than glass plates, in the late 1800s that panoramic cameras produced better image quality.
One type of panoramic camera is the short-rotation variety. The film is arched in the camera, and the lens rotates slightly to produce the image. This type of panoramic camera produces image distortion, but it quickly captures panoramic scenes. Each film frame is significantly longer than the standard 35mm. The most famous of this type of camera is the Widelux.
Full-rotational cameras are more complex because they rotate the lens and the camera to capture the image on film that is flat in the camera. Essentially, a slit at the lens moves around as the film moves in the camera to capture a series of images that will be printed as a single image. This type of panoramic technology also can be used on digital media.
Fixed-lens panoramic cameras expose film exactly the way traditional 35mm cameras do. You click the shutter button, and the shutter opens and closes, exposing the film through the lens in one move. This means you can use a strobe and get interior shots. The maximum angle is 90 degrees without image distortion.
You can use any camera to take panoramic photos. It takes a little effort and a tripod, but it can be done. With the camera pointed at one end of the scene on the tripod, expose the first image. Using the tripod’s pivoting head, turn the camera so the scene just overlaps the previous image. Continue to do this for whatever panoramic range you choose, up to the total 360 degrees. When you get the images processed, you can “stitch” them together with photo-editing software.
- panorama. image by Didier Sibourg from Fotolia.com