What has no settings, is made of plastic, and shoots panoramas? An Ansco Pix Panorama camera! I learned of this thing's existence through following photographer Liz Potter. She does some really neat stuff both shooting and printing. So I tracked the Ansco down on Ebay and tried it out!
What's the ANSCO PIX PANORAMA all about?
Its only shutter speed is 1/125
Its only aperture is f11
It doesn't focus
It's made of plastic
It makes a wimpy click sound when the shutter is pressed
It has a viewfinder that views in panoramic, which is handy
So it's a very simple machine. The ONLY things you get to make a decision on are your film type and your composition. I ended up stopping by Blue Moon Camera & Machine, a local photography shop, and picked up some Ilford Delta 3200.
I chose this film because the weather in Portland lately has been gloomy, overcast, and rainy. And with the above limitations there is only so much you can do with f11 and 1/125 because they don't change! So the Delta 3200 gave me the freedom to shoot in darker conditions. Now, if it had suddenly gotten really bright and sunny, I would have been in trouble using this film with this camera, everything would have been blown out. So it pays to do your weather research!
An interesting aspect of the ANSCO is the use of a matte backing to crop the image during exposure. I've read that you can remove the matte and just shoot a larger frame that wouldn't look panoramic. This basically goes to show that this camera produces, effectively, fake panorama. As you can see in the image below of the negative, it's the width of a typical full-frame 35mm image and then letterbox cropped down.
My argument in favor of this camera is that it's all about how you approach it. If you go into it with the mindset that you're shooting panoramic images and framing for panoramic dimensions, then you're shooting panoramic. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise!
Panoramas are a lot of fun, but not easy to display on instagram. I hope posting these here provides a larger, detailed view of them. As you've seen above so far, I was able to get a decent scan on these guys with my Epson V600. I scan them at 3200ppi and each of these ends up being about 40mbs apiece. I don't know if I'd want to print them too big, but they would be alright as smaller prints.
And for the grand finale I tried a big stack of three. This style will be fun to play with in the future.
I hope you've enjoyed this journey into CHEAP PANORAMA. I love trying new things and keeping my creative juices flowing. This was a fun exercise in letting composition be my guide, rather than getting bogged down in all the settings. Thanks again to Liz Potter for the inspiration!
I think next I may try out Lomography's Sprocket Rocket panoramic camera. But this cheap Ansco Pix Panorama will always have a place in my bag for whenever the moment arises!