Cirkut camera

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by peter_roberts|4, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. A Cirkut camera #10 is being sold at Ebay now. I am thinking of
    buying it. But I have no idea how it works. Could you help by
    informing the followings?

    1. Can I put modern lenses on it? If yes, I can use different
    focal lenses to take pictures.

    2. Is camera movement available? It is important to have
    perspective control.

    3. I know it can take 360 degree photo. Can I take just 150, 180
    or 270 degree photos?

    4. Can I use 9.5" aerial film with #10 camera?

    5. Some people said it could be difficult to get perfect exposed
    picture with Cirkut camera. Or it may require 2 to 3 exposures to
    get one perfect photo. Is it true?
  2. Peter-check out this link. He's a photographer in NZ who has info and pictures posted on his site.Works with assorted panoramic cameras. I'm sure if you email him you will find out what you need to know.
  3. A friend of mine in New Brunswick Canada works with a guy that has one of these and is supposed to be the last one in Canada using one, i'll send this to him and he'll have it in his hands in about a minute to pass along to his buddy. I'm sure he will get back to you on it.
  4. I think that there are clockwork gears that simultaneously twirl the camera and wind the film. The camera itself is a moving focal plane shutter, there's just a vertical slit of the film exposed at any time. As one can imagine, any glitch in the operation of the gears leads to a visible glitch in the taken photo.

    The camera in the photos appears to have rise and fall. I don't think other movements would be suitable to the method of operation.

    Since it has a convertible lens, I presume any focal length lens would be suitable. I suspect that the effective shutter speed is rather slow, so one uses the lens rather stopped down, so lens quality probably isn't a vital issue.

    J&C Photo gets Efke film in Circuit size.

    That's a big investment, $3895. No idea if that is really market price...
  5. I can help with a few things. I have a no. 10 languishing in a closet (warm and dry) waiting while I finish a new dark room that is taking approximately as long as the Frenchman's boat in Cannery Row.

    My first thought is how primitive these machines are. You're depending on 100 year old wood to locate several planes that are incredibly important for registration and smooth running. They have a clockwork motor with a lot of gear train that was never intended to still be working 100 years later.

    1. You can use modern lenses. Each focal length and in fact diferent focus distances at the same focal length require a different set of numbered gears to drive the registration plane the correct speed for the image that is landing there. There are folks who can make different gear sets you won't have. Unsure of costs for that. There are formulas to calculate how many teeth etc for different focus distances.

    2. Yes some basic movements are possible. Front rise and fall. No scheimpflug. Perspective is different with these. We normally think in terms of very wide field lenses for a banquet camera. But with a Cirkut all you need to think about is height of frame. Normal to slightly longish lenses can include everything you want from top to bottom on a 10" high fame. Rotation includes the rest. 270mm - 320mm is about right.

    3. Yes you can set a "stop" to end the rotation anywhere you like. I intend to use 9.5" film in mine but can't speak to difficulties in that as I'm not there yet.

    5. Perfect exposure? LOL Like the jackpot in Las Vegas. Maybe not quite that bad.

    Summary: If you're the kind of person who could engineer installing a Chevy V8 motor in a '39 Willy's or take carburetors apart and put them back together while smoking a cigar and chattering with a friend, you may find it all very easy. There is lots of mechanics and just plain resourcefulness involved in getting one of these antiques to sing properly. The perfect adage is "Anyone can buy a violin.......few can play it."
  6. Couple of things to add. I paid about $23**.00 something for mine. I've thought of selling it for the following reason. I could mount my 8 mega pix Olympus on a tripod and telephoto out a bit and make consecutive photos combined in photo shop that would equal or better the quality of a Cirkut. There once was a time when they were truly the only show in town for the task they do. No longer. Something to think about. That seller will probably find out where I live and bomb my house.
  7. FInd a copy of the book about Eugene Goldbeck, of San Antonio. I suggest interlibrary loan, cuz used copies I've found are very expensive. IIRC it was printed in the mid-1980's. He held a patent to allow tilting of the film plane- else one gets sky for half the circle, ground for the other half and some very interesting perspective. Craig camera has reprints of the #10 cirkut manual, and someplace on the web sre copies of the patents of features incorporated into the #10, among which is the ability to use various film widths. As for the price noted, seems excessive, but.....
  8. stitching digital photos in reasonable
    Someone in out local photo club had a circut camera photo of the town. he used his digicam from the same vantage point to take and stich and print almost the same photo. and it's in color!
    a lot cheaper to produce and there are no visible seams.
    it's the results that count. the concept of the circuit camera is intersting, but better results can be had for much less money with stitched digital photos.
  9. Peter - 1.Modern lenses can be adapted, but for contact printing B&W, you may find the lens already geared for the camera entirely usable. Extremely wide angle lenses tend to be a problem. 2. #10 Cirkut has rise and fall, and front tilt. If you look closely at the photos on the eBay listing, you can see the curved slot and knob on the right side of the front standard, giving tilt just like some Ansco view cameras. 3. To start the camera, you turn a knob/key on the lower LH side of the film magazine. When the camera has rotated as many degrees as you like, you turn the knob off. There is a scale around the outside of the gearhead to help you keep track of how many degrees you have rotated. 4. 9 1/2" aerial film can be used with modified spools.
    Now to the difficulty question. Unless you get a Cirkut that has had thousands of rolls through it (not impossible), a clean and lube will make it more or less as good as new. But there quite a few things to learn about running a Cirkut and a lot of mistakes to make. You really need to have a lot of free time to devote to this learning curve. The professional photographers who used Cirkuts in the last century probably worked 12 hour days, 6 days a week. If something wasn't going right for them, they just kept working until they figured out a fix. Today when it is important that everything be "easy", and most of us don't have 72 hours a week for photography, most people will find a Cirkut too "hard". That is pretty much the position I find myself in. I haven't given up on Cirkuts, but like some people are with golf, the frustration keeps me away for long periods of time. If you just want a panoramic picture, digital or the modern 2 1/4" pan cameras will do just fine. If you are devoted to contact prints, or just a glutton for punishment (a complete #10 weighs about 45-50 pounds as I recall), then consider a Cirkut.
  10. Interesting about Goldbeck. About 1980 I was at a meeting in San Antonio with about 100-150 others. We were lined up in front of the Alamo and our picture was taken with a Cirkut camera. It was Goldbeck who was the photographer. He showed me a little about the camera and answered a few questions. Also I found the following on the internet if someone is interested in the original instructions for a Cirkut 10
  11. Peter:

    You didn't mention your reason for considering a Cirkut. If it's just to take panos, then Jim and Leonard's advice is sound. I was out on a frozen New Hampshire lake this past weekend shooting panos with a D70. I couldn't have carried my No. 10 through the knee-deep snow, and even if I could have, it probably wouldn't have performed well in the cold. That said, I love my Cirkut, and can't wait until warmer weather.

    As inept an operator as I am, I've had no problem with exposure, even from the start. I'm probably just lucky to have a decent motor. The real difficulty comes from banding, when you get a little 'stutter' in the mechanism, and a portion of the negative gets more exposure than other portions. Good maintenance and attention to technique helps.

    As to the Cirkut on eB*y, I'd avoid it. This is a relisting by this seller. It got no bids the first time, and he hasn't bothered to drop the price. Like Jim, I paid about $2300 for my complete setup - camera, tripod, gears and lens.

    I would question the seller's contention that the lens offered is original. I'm not an expert, but all of the Cirkuts I've seen have had Gundlach TR convertibles. You have to wonder why an original lens on a No. 10 Cirkut would be mounted in a shutter. Smaller format Cirkuts could be used with a sheet film holder, but I don't think the No. 10 had that option. I could easily be wrong, of course.

    If you're still interested, I'd encourage you to keep looking, as there will be others offered for auction. Cirkuts are simply the coolest things on three legs. There are lots of users out there willing to help a newbie. You don't have to be an engineer to operate one, but a little understanding helps.

    Jim: never swapped an engine, but I did replace the gears in a Mercedes 190SL transmission, once. Just once.
  12. The Goldbeck book makes interesting reading for anyone interested in panoramic photography. I stumbled on to it at our local library just a few weeks ago. He spent a long lifetime with the Circut camera. Unfortunately there is very little information in the book about panoramic cameras, more about his life and devotion to his work. Also included are many panoramic photos and stories about how he overcame obstacles in taking photos with hundreds of participants.
  13. Jim Galli: If you're the kind of person who could engineer installing a Chevy V8 motor in a '39 Willy's or take carburetors apart and put them back together while smoking a cigar and chattering with a friend, you may find it all very easy.
    I can do that without the cigar!
    PS: "Carburetor" is Latin for "Don't Mess with it!"
  14. Cirkut Camera's aren't dead! I just seen one used at the Republican National Convention taking a group photo of all the delegates. So, I guess if you get one, you have a future photographing political conventions!

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