Widelux and others

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by charlotte_katz, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. I've recently discovered the Jeff Bridges' book, showing his on set stills, and they were all taken with a widelux
    I felt in love with the concept and really want to buy one. I looked up on internet and I also found out about the Noblex camera and the Horizon camera.
    The 'only' differences I read about are mostly about the shutter speed (more choices with Horizon)
    Knowing about the fact that they all (maybe not the Noblex, I couldn't find a lot of informations about this one) can be used with 35mm or 120film, and my choice might be more towards the 35, what do you think about these 3 cameras?
    Which one do you think is the most pleasant to use, or if you have simply comments on one of the cameras I will be happy to read about it
    Sorry if it seems a bit confused, but basically I just want opinions and if anybody can share his knowledge i'll take it!
    Thank you
     
  2. Ok I apologize because I actually found a thread already answering a lot of my questions
    http://www.photo.net/leica-rangefinders-forum/00MabD
    But it is from 2007, so is there in 2010, more things to know?
     
  3. I wouldn't fool around with a noblex due to their high cost. A horizon or a widelux would be a good cheapish start if you go with film. Pano can be done with digital way cheaper these days but they don't do the swing:)) That said, it is a pain to print if you do go with film...
    When you find a widelux or horizont, try to test a roll before committing. The (rotating) gears on them might need to be adjusted.
     
  4. Hello Charlotte,
    I have been using the 35mm Noblex cameras for several years now, to make pictures for a project called Crowdspotting at http://crowdspotting.blogspot.com.
    I have not owned a Widelux, but at one time I considered buying one, so I rented one. I also used the Horizon. I decided on the Noblex for several reasons, which I will list here. I am sure there are Widelux users out there who prefer them to any other brand, so take the following information as simply my individual experience. There is also a camera called a Widepan, which is similar. Also there is the Roundshot/Spinshot and the Gobuscope cameras, which fascinate me but I don't have any experience with them.

    Not much has changed since 2007, since I think that the Horizon is the only swing-lens panoramic camera still in full production.
    • The Widelux, Horizon and Noblex cameras work on the same principle. They expose film on a curved plane, through a slit that covers a lens that rotates.
    • The Widelux is spring-loaded. The Noblex is motorized and uses batteries. Some users report that the Widelux will produce dark bands on your film at certain shutter speeds, because the spring cannot turn the turret smoothly while it is "getting up to speed." The Noblex avoids this by using a regulated motor and by spinning the turret one half rotation so that it is up to a steady speed by the time the film is exposed.
    • The Horizon is a lower-end model than the Noblex or Widelux. The lenses are not as sharp as the competition. You can see this yourself by visiting Flickr and searching for Horizon, Noblex, etc. and looking closely at the technical quality of the images produced by each camera. Of course each person posting their images may use different scanning techniques or post-production tools, so it's not a scientific comparison. But with a large sample set on Flickr, you can see the overall quality difference when you look at enough sets.
    • I have a 135U and a 135S. The "U" model has slower shutter speeds, as slow as 1 second. The "S" only goes to 1/60, if I recall. I shoot on the street, so I don't need slow shutter speeds, usually.
    • The Noblex cameras are no longer made. They are available on eBay though, it seems like a new one is popping up for sale every day.
    • The 150 and 175 models are for 120 size film. These are big, heavy monsters and in my opinion not suitable for handheld photography like Jeff Bridges did.
    • My Noblex cameras have been expensive to maintain. I have to send them to (what used to be) Noblex Canada, and so far I've spent between $300 and $500 per year on EACH camera to keep them in operation. Keep in mind that I use mine almost every day, so it may be an unusual situation.
    • Make sure you have a way to process and print/scan your negatives. The Noblex (and Widelux) negatives are more than twice as long as a standard 35mm frame, and so you must process the film yourself, or find a good lab. When I first started using mine, I would shoot color film and take the film to Walgreens for processing, because it was cheap - $2 to process the film. However I always had to beg, beg and beg them to NOT cut the negatives, because their machine cuts at what it thinks is the standard 35mm frame. Obviously that means cutting your pano frame in half! For the last few years I've been only doing B/W, so I shoot TMAX 400 and process the film myself at home.
    • Consider how you'll print them. If you have a darkroom, you'll need to mask off a 6x8 or 6x9 carrier or file out a 35mm carrier. I don't print them traditionally any longer, so I scan mine with a Nikon medium-format scanner, one frame at a time. If you don't have a scanner or a darkroom, check around to find a pro lab that will work with you to print your negatives. It's getting harder and harder to find labs that will mess with this, without charging an arm and a leg!
    • Lastly, there are a lot of ways to make panoramic images digitally these days, using digital cameras and stitching multiple images together in camera or in post-production, or by using digital cameras that have built-in panoramic functionality.
    • I am not sure what your main reason is for wanting a swing-lens camera, but for me it was because of the quality of the imagery that I could produce in a single shot (vs. stitching), the ability to stay true to my commitment to film, and the look of the cylindrical panoramic view that is produced by these cameras (zero vertical distortion if the camera is held perfectly level). Also, the Noblex 135 cameras are small enough to be hand-held, and that was a requirement for me, because as I mentioned, I carry a Noblex with me everywhere and shoot without much planning.

    I hope this general information helps. I'll post more information and opinion later, if I think of anything else.
    Jeff
    http://crowdspotting.blogspot.com
     
  5. I own a Widelux F6, and have used a Horizon 202 (I think that was the model).
    When functioning correctly I've never gotten banding at any shutter speed with the Widelux. After years of heavy use, and a very cold day outdoors, mine started to band, I sent it in for adjustment, and it's worked fine ever since.
    I borrowed a friend's Horizon, and took them both out for a shoot out. The Horizon was brand new, but did not operate very smoothly. I didn't get banding, but when cocking the shutter/advancing the film it felt and sounded like a pepper grinder. I can't imagine that is typical or no one would buy Horizons, but it was obvious that my friend's brand new camera needed a tune up or something.
    Image quality was very similar. The Widelux lens did resolve a hair more tiny detail, but I think that would only be barely noticeable in large prints.
    I haven't updated it in years, but here is my Widelux photo blog. http://widelux.blogspot.com/
     
  6. Thank you for your precious informations.
    Jeff you basically sold me the Noblex! I have other equipment to buy before but I'll save money to buy one
    I am good with printing and processing, I'll do it at home, but just to be sure, because there is no really any reasons for it to change, but is there any difference with the way to process the film? I don't have a darkroom, but will scan the negatives. I normally use d76 or a TMax400 developer. Have you ever shot Efke films with the Noblex?
    And to answer your question I am a unit photographer and think that the panoramic is amazing for set purpose. You can tell so many 'stories' in one single shot. I am also a 35mm addict so to do a panoramic picture on photoshop is not really my favorite thing to do!
    And really as a camera lover I simply would love owning such a piece of mechanism, the panning lens is an amazing concept.
    Great job for your crowdspotting blog, I really like the kind of abstraction your bringing to some of your shots
     
  7. Charlotte, Be aware that all panoramic cameras, owing to their extreme wide angle coverage, exhibit one or another kind of unique rendering of perspective. It is not a distortion (some will call it that); it is more the case that the wide-angle cameras see the world in a way that we do not.
    The swing-lens cameras such as Widelux, Noblex, and Horizon, exhibit a curvilinear perspective. So if one were to photograph, say, a long, low building, facing it head-on, then the roofline of the building will appear curved, even though it is straight in reality. So will the curb or sidewalk along the bottom edge. That's not wrong. If we look to the left down the street, we will see the roofline and the curb converging, towards the vanishing point. If we look to the right, we see the same thing in that direction. And If we look straight ahead at the building, the straight lines appear straight. But the camera sees all these views at once--a thing we cannot do. The result is a curvilinear perspective.
    I happen to use an XPAN, which has an extreme wide-angle lens. It does not see as wide a view as the swing-lens cameras; nevertheless it exhibits a different kind of perspective "surprise." When I photograph a bridge with a series of equal-width arches, the arches at the left and right actually appear wider and wider as we get nearer to the edges of the picture! In reality they were all the same width.
    If we could see the wide angle of view the camera sees, we would see the same kind of perspective the camera does. So I'm not calling it distortion; rather it is just the way things look when viewed in that way. If we stitch together a number of digital photos into a panorama, and the subject contains horizontal lines near the top or bottom, then those lines will appear to "break" at the join points. If we photograph nature, or anything that has no straight or continuous horizontal lines, then we will not notice anything unusual--with either type of camera.
    So this is something to be aware of when choosing a wide-angle panoramic camera. It is a different way of seeing. I personally prefer the stretching effect of the XPAN to the curvilinear look. Your taste may differ. Whichever type you choose, you will have a ball with this way of seeing the world!
     
  8. Charlotte, Be aware that all panoramic cameras, owing to their extreme wide angle coverage, exhibit one or another kind of unique rendering of perspective. It is not a distortion (some will call it that); it is more the case that the wide-angle cameras see the world in a way that we do not.
    The swing-lens cameras such as Widelux, Noblex, and Horizon, exhibit a curvilinear perspective. So if one were to photograph, say, a long, low building, facing it head-on, then the roofline of the building will appear curved, even though it is straight in reality. So will the curb or sidewalk along the bottom edge. That's not wrong. If we look to the left down the street, we will see the roofline and the curb converging, towards the vanishing point. If we look to the right, we see the same thing in that direction. And If we look straight ahead at the building, the straight lines appear straight. But the camera sees all these views at once--a thing we cannot do. The result is a curvilinear perspective.
    I happen to use an XPAN, which has an extreme wide-angle lens. It does not see as wide a view as the swing-lens cameras; nevertheless it exhibits a different kind of perspective "surprise." When I photograph a bridge with a series of equal-width arches, the arches at the left and right actually appear wider and wider as we get nearer to the edges of the picture! In reality they were all the same width.
    If we could see the wide angle of view the camera sees, we would see the same kind of perspective the camera does. So I'm not calling it distortion; rather it is just the way things look when viewed in that way. If we stitch together a number of digital photos into a panorama, and the subject contains horizontal lines near the top or bottom, then those lines will appear to "break" at the join points. If we photograph nature, or anything that has no straight or continuous horizontal lines, then we will not notice anything unusual--with either type of camera.
    So this is something to be aware of when choosing a wide-angle panoramic camera. It is a different way of seeing. I personally prefer the stretching effect of the XPAN to the curvilinear look. Your taste may differ. Whichever type you choose, you will have a ball with this way of seeing the world!
     
  9. With Noblex, you might want to consider the fact that they just recently closed. So replacement parts will be hard to come by in the future
     

Share This Page

1111