Filmtown: Horizon 202 and Kodak Ektar 100

This month’s topic is the Horizon 202, a swing-lens panoramic camera from the former Soviet Union. With its clockwork exposure sounds and serpentine film loading, using a Horizon is an interesting experience for any photographer. In this column, we will be pairing the Horizon with Kodak’s Ektar 100, a tightly grained 100 speed color negative film that aims for high saturation and ultra-vivid color.

The Camera: Horizon 202

A panoramic image is one that is significantly longer in one dimension than another. Or, to say it another way, a panoramic image is a long rectangle. While there is no set definition for what aspect ratio defines an image as panoramic or not, I would wager a guess that for many people an image needs to be at least twice as long on one side vs the other (an aspect ratio of 2:1) before they would call it “panoramic”.

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The Horizon 202 is what is called a “swing lens” panoramic camera. This means that the whole image is not exposed at one time as with most other cameras. Instead, the lens itself moves, projecting onto different areas of the film at different times. The advantages of this are very clear. Panoramic images take up a fairly large amount of film space, in the case of the Horizon 202 the image size is 24mm x 58mm. Meaning that in order to cover the whole frame at once, the image circle of the lens would have had to be virtually the same size as a medium format camera’s. Medium format lenses tend to be large, slower, expensive, and harder to design when compared to their smaller format brothers. However, by using a moving lens design, the image circle for these cameras only has to cover a small area (relative to the final negative size) and so can be smaller, faster, and more easily designed.

A 1990’s update of a 1960’s Russian panoramic camera called the Horizont, the Horizon 202 is rumored to no longer be in production. Though there are many “new” examples available from various Russian camera dealers.

In Use

There are many quirks to using a swing lens panoramic camera, and a few quirks that are special to the Horizon itself.

First off is the adventure of loading the film. The path that film takes through the Horizon is more convoluted than one of those Family Circus cartoons where Jeffy is running all over the neighborhood. Okay, so it’s not quite that bad. But there are a number of rollers that the film has to run around for everything to work properly. The general rule is “if the film can go behind something, it should”. There is a odd little film path illustration on the inside of the film door that is meant to explain this to you. But in typical Russian camera fashion, it doesn’t help all that much.

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With practice, loading film becomes a lot easier. It is tempting to say that I don’t blame the Horizon for its weird loading, since swing-lens cameras have such strange film plane requirements. However the Horizon’s much more expensive competitor Noblex seemed to have no problem creating a camera that was much easier to load.

Speaking of the film advance, it pays to be gentle with the film advance in the Horizon. There is a lot of film being moved through the camera and a lot of friction due to the large curved film plane that the advance gears move with a pretty strong amount of force. Though I’ve never had it happen to me, I have heard that it is possible to tear through the sprocket holes of the film by being too enthusiastic with your film advancing. Given that the metal film advance gears are pretty roughly finished (like many parts of Russian cameras) and sharp, this doesn’t surprise me at all. Some suggest advancing the film in two shorter strokes. I personally never bother with this and rather just make sure that I am fairly gentle and steady when I advance. One thing that you may run into is uneven negative spacing. I have a theory that this is made worse by being too enthusiastic with your winding. But I have no real proof of that. I do know that one or two frame pairs in a roll tend to be too close for comfort, sometimes even overlapping a bit. Not a huge issue, and one common to other Russian cameras, but something to be aware of.

Composition is a fairly simple matter, stick your eye up to the goofy bulbous level and point it at something you want to photograph. Because one of the calling cards of swing-lens cameras is the odd distortion you will get if you do not keep the camera level, the Horizon viewfinder includes a very handy circular level. The level is actually on top of the camera and look like a circle bullseye with a little bubble floating in it. You can see the level when looking through the viewfinder due to the fact that there is a mirror in the VF housing. Essentially, like all levels, when the bubble is in the middle the camera is level. One thing I did notice is that the bubble on my camera likes to stick to the side of the level. Sometimes it takes a tap or a gentle shake to dislodge it. But overall, it’s a very handy little tool.

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The finder is fairly accurate, but most Horizon users feel that it shows a bit less than what the final image shows. To be honest, I can’t say if this is true or not as I don’t frame very tightly myself and likely wouldn’t notice if I had a bit of extra by the time the film came back. In any case, it’s always better to have a little more than you thought as it can be cropped off later, rather than having a little less than you thought. One nifty idea that a Horizon user came up with is the idea that the view out of one human eye (from far left to far right) is just about the same as the view from the Horizon. Now I personally think that this is true for the horizontal, but the human eye shows a bit more vertically than the Horizon does. But still, it’s a pretty decent “rough preview” of what your image might look like when you are wandering around looking for things to take photos of.

One thing to note about composition is that if you hold the Horizon like you hold most every other camera (thumb in back, index finger on shutter release, middle/ring/pinky curled around the front) it is staggeringly easy to end up with your fingers intruding into the shot. It’s tough to keep in mind just how wide of an angle of view this camera has. To help with this issue, the Horizon comes with a handgrip that bayonets into the bottom of the camera on the side under the film rewind knob. It’s a pretty handy little beast to have when you are shooting hand-held. However, it does make sticking the Horizon in a camera bag a little annoying. I end up taking it off and putting it back one again fairly often that I know one of these days I’m going to set the grip down and lose it. It is possible to not use the handgrip and keep your fingers out of the image, you just have to be very careful in how you hold the camera. It probably also helps if you don’t have giant hands.

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The Horizon has 6 shutter speeds split up into two “gears”. The high-speed gear offers 1/250, 1/125 & 1/60 and the low offers 1/8, 1/4 & 1/2. The low speeds are printed in yellow and the high speeds are printed in white directly below. You select the high or low gearing by switching a lever under the film rewind know to choose the color that corresponds with the shutter speed you want to use. Then you switch another lever to point at the chosen shutter speed pair. What is odd is that there very obviously a space where a 1/30 and 1/15 shutter speed choice should live, but there isn’t anything printed there. I have heard that some Horizon 202’s have a 1/30 option and I’ve heard of a few that have been modified to have a 1/15 & 1/30 option. Heck I have even heard of some that have a 1/500 option. That’s part of the joy of Russian cameras though, specs seem to change from time to time over the production lifespan with no real rhyme or reason.

The Horizon 202 has six aperture choices from 2.8-16. For the most part, you are okay with just these. But given the 1/250 top speed, it would have been nice to see a f/22 option in there as well. But such is life and we can do without. One thing you can do to reduce the amount of light on sunny days is to install the Horizon’s included 2x ND filter. There are three of them that come with the camera and they are 2x neutral density, UV, and Yellow. They are all of dubious quality in my opinion. The filters clip into slots on the lens barrel and stay in place well enough that you actually have to use the clips on a second filter to clip onto the installed filter and pull it back out again. One annoying thing about installing/removing the filters is that you can only do so after making an image when advancing the film. As you are advancing the film, the lens barrel rotates back to it’s starting spot. You can stop it in the middle and then install/remove your filter. The other advantage of the 2x ND filter is that you can use it with the 1/60 and 1/125 shutter speeds to approximate 1/15 and 1/30 shutter speeds respectively. But as I say, I don’t think the filters are of particularly high quality. If you are handy, you can take apart the supplied filters, remove the filter material, and replace it with something better. There is a webpage here with a few images from someone who did just that to get a red filter.

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One note about filters that is fairly frustrating is that for the kind of landscape/scenic photography that the Horizon 202 was built to do, it is really handy to be able to use a polarizing filter. However, it is not at all handy to use one with the Horizon. Since you do not look through the lens, you have to hold the filter up and spin it in front of your eye to get the effect you want. Then, since there is no internal meter, you have to either use a hand held meter, a separate camera, or guesstimation to figure out the exposure difference when using the polarizer. Finally, you have to use a fairly slow shutter speed and hold the filter in front of the Horizon’s rotating lens as you try and follow the rotation with the filter. Did I mention you need a pretty big filter to give yourself a good chance of not getting “caught” by the lens as you try to follow it? It works, and I used it for the photo to the right. But it isn’t the best system.

The Horizon 202 is a fixed focus camera. As it is primarily a landscape camera, I am going to guess that the focus is fixed on infinity. But I haven’t been able to find any info to prove or disprove that. I will say that at middle apertures, everything past 3-4 meters seems pretty in focus, using f/16 will bring that distance down to 2-3 meters. A 28mm lens does have a nice big depth of field, but don’t expect to be able to use this camera like a wide angle lens. It really is only meant to taking photos of things that are somewhat far away.

One very important thing to remember with the Horizon 202, and with any swing lens camera, is that because the exposure takes much longer overall than the shutter speed indicated moving objects can look weird. Objects moving from left to right, the same direction as the lens barrel rotates, can get elongated (see the photo to the right). Objects moving from right to left can get squashed together. This is obviously much more pronounced with slow shutter speeds than it is with fast ones, but if the object is moving at the right speed, you can even see the effects with fast speeds. Now, the rotating barrel can offer some fun effects as well, if you are into crazy photo experimenting. Shoot at the slowest shutter speed and have a person standing to the left of the camera (if you are looking through the viewfinder). Click the shutter button, have them stand there until you think the lens has rotated past them. Then have your subject run around the back of the camera and get into the frame on the right hand side. If you do it right, you’ll end up with the same person in the image twice. Sort of a double exposure without doing a double exposure. You can also get some weird effects by moving the camera as the lens is rotating. Mostly what you will get is a lot of blur and distortion. But you never know what will come out of stuff like that, could be something cool.

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Two issues are common to the Horizon 202 (and likely all swing-lens cameras). The first is that you may experience uneven exposure or dark vertical bands across your image. This is usually caused by either something holding up the drum (or aperture/shutter speed arms) when the exposure is being made. Or because the gears have gotten gunked up with something that is causing the barrel to slow down and speed up while rotating. If you aren’t slowing the lens barrel down with your fingers, you should probably find a good repair shop to give your Horizon a good CLA (clean lube, & adjust). The second issue is that you may see an overexposed vertical band, typically on the right side of the frame and frequently on bright days. This is caused by internal reflections in the camera. The huge FOV of the camera gives the sun ample opportunity to sneak in there and bounce around. Like the frame spacing, this is a pretty common problem with Russian cameras. I have heard of some users having success painting the inside of the camera with matte black paint. But I have no direct knowledge of how they did it or what paint they used. Personally, I just tried to shield my camera from the sun (difficult with it’s large FOV) and if all else failed, used some burning/cloning in Photoshop to minimize or fix the issue.

When taking your Horizon 202 film to the lab to be developed, it is very important that you tell them you do not want the film to be cut. There is virtually no way (unless you have a pro lab) that anyone will know where to cut the film properly. It will be run through a machine and you will end up with a pile of frames cut in half. Also, it is very unlikely that you are going to find a minilab that will be able to scan these images at the time of developing. I know that many photographers have gotten addicted to the quick proofing scans when they develop C-41 on a Frontier or a Noritsu minilab. The fact is that the Horizon’s frames are just too big to work with those machines. It is true that a Frontier or Nortisu set up to do medium format could fit a panoramic 35mm frame. But I have yet to get any confirmation that it would actually work nor have I found a lab that was willing to try. So your best bet is to just ask them to develop and mark the roll “No Cut!”.

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Printing these images is another problem. You are going to have to have an enlarger that does medium format. And unless your enlarger company happens to make a panoramic negative holder in the right size, you are probably going to want to use some sort of glass holder to keep the negative from sagging. Scanning isn’t much better. Dedicated 35mm film scanners can’t scan an image that is as wide as the panoramic frames. So if you are trying to use one of those scanners, you are going to have to scan each half of the image separately and then stitch together in Photoshop. The biggest annoyance with this is trying to get the exposure exactly the same for both halves. Quite frankly, it made me want to pull my hair out trying to scan this way. If you are lucky enough have a medium format film scanner, you should be able to scan the panoramic images. However, like the enlarger, you may need to look into a glass holder to keep the negative from sagging. Personally, I think the easiest and most cost effective way to scan the Horizon’s panoramic images is with a flatbed scanner that has a transparency adapter. I used an Epson V500 for scanning the images in this article and was satisfied with the results. Flatbed scanners do not usually come close to matching the quality of dedicated film scanners, but they do offer a great price-to-value ratio and by most accounts do a good enough job for many photographers.

The Verdict

This was a camera that I had wanted to try for a long time. A few years back, I had a Hasselblad Xpan that I enjoyed using and I was curious as to how this camera would compare to it.

For me personally, the Horizon made me wish that I had the Xpan back in my hands again. I kept trying to use the Horizon like a wide angle lens and I would get bit time and time again by the fact that it was a fixed focus camera. I wanted to be able to cram myself into a crowded wedding limo and take some sort of crazy bride/groom photo. But that sort of thing just isn’t possible with a camera that is focused on infinity. That having been said, the Horizon is very good at what it was designed to do, be a static landscape/scenic camera. Someone with a better eye for scenic images than I have could really create some amazing images with a Horizon. And this isn’t the camera’s fault, it’s my fault for being the kind of photographer who doesn’t normally think about sweeping landscapes or other such images.

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While a little expensive for the “art camera” crowd, the Horizon might actually excel at that sort of use as much as it does for landscapes. Due to the quirkiness of swing-lens cameras and the ultra wide angle FOV, I could see some artsy experimental stuff coming out of this camera that would be really amazing. There are things you could do with the oddball nature of a swing-lens camera that you could never do in Photoshop.

Like most Russian cameras, the Horizon has a few quirks (missing shutter speeds, reflections, strange film loading, etc). But it is easy enough to use and the quality is quite good for the price. You can find a Horizon 202 for around $300 from any number of ebay sellers. A better bet might be to track one down used($200-250ish). If you buy from a seller that you trust, you could avoid the nightmare of trying to get some foreign ebay seller to accept a return on a defective camera. I would say that a Horizon 202 is a very good choice for someone looking to get into film based panoramic photography. There are a few hoops that much be jumped through when using the camera and a few more to jump through when outputting the final product. But overall I would say that the Horizon 202 is a quality camera for it’s price and what it is designed to do.

The Film: Kodak Ektar 100

Introduced in late 2008, Kodak Ektar 100 is a 100 speed C-41 process color-negative film. It was designed to be a low grain, high saturation, vivid-color film that would offer some of the color benefits of the saturated slide films on the market, but with the exposure latitude of a negative film.

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Initial feedback from users was very positive. The most common praises were the tight grain, sharpness and saturation. Most common complaints were that reds might be a little too saturated and that the film tends to be a little on the cool side. Particularly when lit by blue sky/sunlight. Kodak claimed to originally intend to only release Ektar 100 in 35mm, but response was so positive (and sales must have been high enough) that they bowed to photographer pressure and have released it in 120 format as well (as of April 2009).

In Use

As I said above, the most common complaint about Ektar 100 is that it has a blue cast, especially on sunny blue-sky days. I found this to be true as well. It wasn’t a huge issue, though it was a problem that got somewhat worse if your images were a little underexposed. Everyone’s taste is different, and you should do some tests yourself, but I found that a little overexposure was good for the film and helped with the blue cast. Again though, please do some testing on your own. I don’t want people trying to over expose a full stop and ending up with blown out wedding images. Soem have suggested adding a slight warming filter to your lenses to deal with the blues. Personally, I wouldn’t bother. If you have an image that is a bit too cool for your taste, it’s easy enough to filter some of that blue out in either the wet or digital darkroom.

Another issue that I did find somewhat odd was the tendency for some bright red or red-pink colors to look very forced. It’s almost like they were at the very edge of the color gamut and start looking a little blocky. It isn’t all reds though, just some bright pink-red shades. Other than those two issues, the colors are very nice. In terms of saturation, greens seen to have the most “pop” with reds getting almost the same push. Blues are a bit more intense than average but yellow doesn’t really seem to do much more than most other color neg films. Nothing wrong with that though. As I said, the colors are nice.

You don’t have a lot of format choices for Ektar 100 at the moment. Though at lest Kodak has shown that it is willing to change it’s mind and release additional formats if the market demands it. Currently Kodak Ektar 100 is available in:

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  • Kodak Ektar 100 35mm rolls
  • Kodak Ektar 100 120 rolls

The grain is another winner for Kodak. Ektar is just a very tightly grained film. I’m not sure how many other color neg films I have used that have had this little grain. Kodak hypes their “Micro-Structure Optimized T-GRAIN Emulsions” as making this film "perfect for scanning. To be fair, it did scan very well. But I’m not sure how much better it scanned than other 100 speed films. Still, give credit to Kodak for at least realizing that most film photographers are into the digital age in one form or another. Scanning ease is something that no company should overlook if they are planning to release a film these days.

The Verdict

Many people were surprised when Kodak announced this new film in the Fall of 2008 at the Photokina trade show. You know, what with digital having killed film and all that. But in retrospect, it is looking to be a very good move for Kodak to have made. The film has been selling well, so well in fact that they changed their minds and decided to release Ektar 100 in 120 format. However, to anyone who thinks about it for a minute, it’s no real surprise that it’s selling well. While many people love the saturated colors and contrast of films like Velvia or E100VS, very few people have any real reason for shooting slides these days other than that they like the colors. Given that a huge percentage of color film shooters are using the digital darkroom and are not sitting around having slide projector parties, it makes sense to offer a film with the saturation of those slide films but with the latitude of negative film.

Ektar 100’s drawbacks are few. It does have a blue cast sometimes and it does have some weirdness with a few bright red or pink-red colors. But for the most part, neither issue was a big deal at all. The overall “look” of the film was great and the tightness of the grain was wonderful. If I were going to shoot a 100 speed negative film regularly, I would probably default to Ektar 100. That having been said, for me personally, I like a 400 speed film. I’d love to see something similar from Kodak in a 400 speed. However, for those who are 100 speed film users, I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t try this film.

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All Together Now

The Horizon 202 and Kodak Ektar 100 made a great pair. The latitude of a color negative film was nice to have when dealing with such a wide field of view (and missing shutter speeds). The bright colors worked well for the landscape images that the Horizon excels at. I think a more talented nature/landscape photographer could really pull off some stunning images using this combo. As it is, you have to look at my “took them in February, thank god this is the evergreen state” images. But I think it’s enough to get the idea.

This Month’s Contest

We want our dedicated film using members to post their own experiences on the Filmtown articles. So, to encourage participation in this article series, we are going to give away a five roll pack of Kodak Ektar 35mm (don’t have any 120 yet in the PN film vault) to two of the users who leave comments on this page. How to enter? Just click “add a comment” at the bottom of the page and post a suggestion, personal experience, or review about using either a Horizon 202 (or any swing lens panoramic camera. No Xpans please, that is a different article) or Kodak Ektar 100. Or you can post a photo taken with the camera or film (one photo per person please). We’ll pick one film and one camera post and give away the prizes. Super easy.

Where to Buy

You can still buy the Horizon 202 new from a variety of Russian camera sellers on ebay and across the web. However, unless you happen to have a Russian camera vendor that you particularly trust, finding a used Horizon might be a better way to go. Or, you could go for the newer “S3” version:

Horizon S3 Panoramic Camera

Other places to look would be the would be the Panoramic category of the Photo.net classifieds or your favorite used camera retailer. You can find Kodak Ektar 100 at just about any professional photo supply house. Or, you could purchase through one of Photo.net’s retail partners and help support the site.

  • Kodak Ektar 100 35mm rolls
  • Kodak Ektar 100 120 rolls

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Original text and images ©2009 Josh Root.

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    • Having just bought many rolls of Ektar 100 from Adorama and B&H I applaud the timeliness of this article. I look forward to corroborating your findings.
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    • I had this camera and it was a lot of fun. Difficult to print from as exposure wasn't always even within the frame. Once you'd learned good dodging techniques I actually got some very nice photos with this camera. Great for travel.
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    • I just shot my first roll of the Ektar 100 and I'm pretty pleased with the results. Good quality images without the hassle of slide film (and at like half the price!). I'll be using it quite a bit in the future for outdoor stuff. Still looking for a good 400 film for general shooting though!

      I guess I should note, after reading up on the film I decided to shoot it at 64 instead of 100...
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    • I like the Ektar and will be using quite a bit this summer especially in 120. I've done a test here: http://photo-utopia.blogspot.com/2009/01/kodak-ektar-100.html Look at the magenta reds in the shot of my kids, vibrant colours on a dull day! I'd agree with most of the comments, bright blues, reds and greens. Not sure about the blue cast, possibly because the sun is low here in the UK the colour temp of winter sunshine is a little yellow. Straight off a cheap flatbed- the colours are accurate to the scene:
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    • "Giants Causeway" Colour Neg. film - I'm not sure what film type or speed. 2006.

      About three or four years ago, while studying photography in college, my lab tech lent me a 60's Horizont (the really heavy one). I fell in love with the camera, and when school was out, I was lucky enough to borrow it while traveling around the UK. Since then, Ive bought myself one on ebay - another metal body Horizont. I haven't had too much trouble loading the camera as is mentioned in the article, but it is really easy to get a finger in the frame

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    • Hi Josh, I,ve been doing a comparative film test with Kodak Ektar 100 and DNP Centuria 100 films. Ektar came out very well there, too. I liked it's small and unobtrusive grain structure and medium high saturation without significant color shifts. Didn't notice a blue cast though, although about half of my test shots were done with studio flash. Perhaps it is a bit UV-sensitive and we all need to use UV-filters on our lenses again ;-)
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    • Josh, your article on the Horizon 202 couldn't have been better timed for me, as I've just gotten back the first couple of rolls from the one I bought second-hand last month. I've been stitching several shots (digital or scanned 35mm) together so often that I thought the Horizon would cure me of that. But it's far too tempting to push things even further and stich a couple of 120-degree shots to make a superpanorama! The camera has performed flawlessly so far -- no stripes, perfect frame-spacing, and no flare, though I picked a very dull weekend to try it out. My next adventure will be to try to fit a half- or one-diopter convex lens into a filter holder to set the camera's focus to a maximum two or one meters respectively. I think you underestimate your landscapes. They're lovely, and the Ektar 100 looks like a great film for them. My double-panorama was taken on ASA 200 drugstore film, developed there, and scanned on an Epson Perfection 4990 Photo scanner at 2400 DPI.
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    • Just got some Ektar 100 and looking forward to shooting it with my X-700. FYI y'all, there's a promotion and a mail-in rebate on the Kodak web site, buy 3 rolls of 35 or a 5-pack of 120 and get $5.
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    • Denver Botanic Garden (5 of 7).jpg Ektar 100 is gorgeous for flowers!
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    • I've had my Horizon 202 for nearly around 10 years. I have always been intrigued with pano cameras and also have the Noblex 150F. Once you get used to the "distortion" aspect you get used to changing your shooting angle to minimize. There were always problems with Russian quality but I was lucky and got a smooth operating camera with no banding problems. I find that the lens is very sharp but due to the fixed focus you cannot take many photos in close quarters aphrodites, vancouver, bc (Aphrodites, Vancouver: dinner gathering with Tom A) Horizon 202: Tri-x, Ilfosol 1+9 @ 7min)
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    • Nice article Josh, well written. Thanks! Please let me add some test results of Kodak Ektar 100 and its competitors. I am currently involved in a very detailed scientific film test project. We have tested all slide and color negative films on the market. We run our test with a Zeiss ZF 2/50 Makro-Planar, and a rather low object contrast of about four stops (1:16). That is an object contrast which you have in almost all scenes. Kodaks statement, that the Ektar 100 is the color negative film with the finest grain, is right. But Ektar 100 is not the sharpest CN Film, and not the CN film with the highest resolution (we achieved 105 Lp/mm). Fuji Superia Reala and PRO 160C are a bit sharper, and have a bit higher resolution (110-115 Lp/mm). And a bit coarser grain. The differences between all these films are there, but they are not so big. The films with the highest sharpness and best resolution are the new Fuji Superias without the "4th layer" (about 120 lp/mm). But these films have significantly coarser grain than Ektar 100. With slide films, you can even achieve a bit finer grain than with Ektar 100 (especially with Fujis slide films), much higher resolution and much better sharpness. With Kodak E100G, Fuji Provia 100F, Sensia 100, Astia 100F we achieved 130 Lp/mm. With Velvia 100F 140 Lp/mm. All with excellent sharpness and extremely fine grain, better than all CN films of the market. With Provia 400X we got 110 Lp/mm. So, if you consider the parameters fineness of grain, resolution and sharpness, Kodak Ektar 100 can not replace slide film. In this case Kodak's marketing statement is definitely wrong. And of course slide projection is unique concerning color brillance and resolution. We have tested different projection lenses, and with a Leica Super-Colorplan P2 and a Kindermann 2,4/90 MC-B (made by Docter Optics Wetzlar) we successfully transferred the 140 Lp/mm resolution onto the screen. There is no digital beamer on the market which can nearly match that. The technology is not existent. Period. Even 100.000€ 4k beamers can't achieve these resolution values. For really big pictures with unmatched color brillance and resolution slide projection with a good projector and projection lens ist still state of the art. And will be for a long time, because the gap between slide projection and beamers is very huge. And if you don't want to project slides, you have still the opportunity to look at them on the light table with a good slide loupe. You profit from the unmatched color brilliance, sharpness and resolution as well. The picture is only significantly smaller. Kodak Ektar 100 is a very good film, the color negative film with the finest grain, but not the best film in all parameters. Best regards, Henning
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    • Very interesting (preliminary ?) results, Henning, When and where will the final results be published? I also wonder what happens to the results if you scan those color negative films you mentioned and sharpen the files. I suspect Ektar offers more latitude for sharpening than the more grainy Fujifilm films with their slightly higher resolution, provided the scanner war was able to pick up their grain realistically. As regards your last comment, no one believed that Ektar was the color film to end all color films, did they? That'd be a silver bullet, and we know from the opera how that usually turns out.
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    • Hi Josh and all, I've used the earlier model, the Horizont since 1972 and have loved it. Especially doing Pro Basketball shots with it. Mine finally died a year or so ago and I bought the newest model Horizon S3 Pro a few weeks ago. It looks similar to yours but is from 1 to 250, I did a couple of test rolls and love it. Thanks for talking about it, you can't do this in exactly the same way in digital. Like you, I have used the Hassy panorama camera over the years and it is a great camera. These cameras force me to do film occasionally. Best regards, Lynn
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    • Hi Josh,

      Nice article, and a nice choice of cameras for something *really* different and unique. You took some really nice shots with your unit. I've been using a Widelux FV for about 3 years now, and like the Horizon it's a panoramic swing-lens 35mm camera. I'm really curious about the Kodak Ektar now, too.

      A couple notes / critiques follow, based on my time with my Widelux, not meant to be critical but more along the lines of adding to the knowledge you've shared.

      The Widelux appears to have exactly the same film path as your camera. Agreed about it being circuitous, but you adapt.

      A little more precise explanation of the swing-lens / slit camera concept (I've had a lot of practice explaining it to bystanders): in a swing-lens camera, the lens is in a rotating turret. The film is on the inside of a cylinder, so the film plane isn't a plane at all, but a cylinder. The lens turret has a vertical slit on the backside, and as the turret rotates during exposure it's like a scanner, ie, painting the image onte the film as it goes.

      Agreed 110% with the note about accidentally including fingers, sleeves, car keys; in the photo if you don't make a concious effort to keep them out of the pic.

      Some things on composition / framing:

      I like the level too, but on my older Widelux it's something I had to add myself. The Widelux has framing lines on top the viewfinder, just sort of a big V, and anything within that angle will be in the pic. You can use the level and the V-lines to shoot without having the camera to your eye, and it'll turn out just fine.

      The Widelux viewfinder also shows only about 70% of what will be in the image. When I've shot a small group, arranging them in an arc as the old-time Cirkut photographers did, I've trigged out the 120 degrees using strings on the ground, and had a nice tight composition. But looking through the viewfinder at that point is scary, because it's so inaccurate.

      That's very cool that you can get the Horizon's lens turret to rotate slow enough to allow an end person to be in the shot twice. My Widelux isn't slow enough at the slowest setting to allow that.

      AFAIK, the 35mm swing-lens cameras are all fixed-focus, and you control depth of field by using smaller apertures. I don't know what the focus distance is on the Horizon, but on the Widelux 35mm models it's about 11'. So doing a group photo with the subjects in an arc, a radiuse of 11' is the magic number to arrange the subjects.

      Candid group shots are really fun / funny. The photographer never sees all the interactions that are going on simultaneously, and so the end results always look like the painting of the Last Supper to me, ie, a buncha little conversations going on among 2-3 people at once, oblivious of each other.

      I've not done anything with filters, so can't comment. Interesting idea on moving a filter with the lens, I'd not have even thought of that.

      Due to the ultra-wide angle of photos, best to have the sun directly at your back, or the "right" exposure will vary over the course of the lens turret rotation, and you'll have a dark sky in one area, and a light sky in another area. I would've expected problems with using polarizers, for the same reason, but again.... I've no experience with filters on that camera.

      Regarding CLAs to cure banding.... my own Widelux has a bit of a corduroy exposure patten to it when I bought it, and needed new gears to cure the issue. Original gears were straight-cut brass, and worn out on the 1/125s setting. Repairman installed an updated set of gears from a later Widelux, which were helically-cut and had a finer pitch. No more problem, but I suspect that those spare gears are no longer available.

      Scanning: I scan my own, but I have to go into the configuration menu and turn of a setting called "Create Thumbnails," or the scanner pukes on trying to find the edge of image on the negative.

      Printing: custom labs have no problem with printing my scanned images. Wal-Mart and similar sure do, and the Kodak kiosks usually can't do it either. Oddly, some Kodak kiosks can, if they allow zooming out on on image. But most don't / can't.

      Merging the two halves of a scan in Photoshop is another possiblility, as you mentioned. They merge nicely.

      Speaking of which - on my Widelux, the tripod mount is concentric with the lens' vertical rotation axis. So on an overcast day, I can do full 360-degree shots by taking 4 shots, one at each point of the compass, and then photo-merging them. Here's two done that way.... First is the main street of the small town where I live, my apartment is directly across the crosswalk in center of photo, then upstairs. Second is Arizona's meteor crater. I don't know who the people are....

      Pemberville 360:

      Pemberville, Ohio - 360d

      Meteor Crater 360:

      Meteor Crater - 360d

      That's all I've got, sorry for being so wordy.

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    • Two more shots, one with slow-speed b/w film(T-Max 100), and one with high-speed b/w film (3200 Ilford), showing a couple more interesting ways to use a swing-lens camera.

      Genoa, Ohio; May 2007 Bike Night:

      Genoa, Ohio; Bike Night

      Pemberville, Ohio flood; 2008. High school students filling sandbags. Note how each couple people seems to be in their own little world, and there's multiple worlds: Eastwood High School students filling sandbags

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    • Hello Christoph, we intend to publish the test results, but our test programm is not finished yet. Overall thousands of negatives and positives have to be analysed. And we are testing BW films as well. At the moment we are examining BW films with extremely high resolution: Rollei ATP 1.1, Rollei Ortho 25, Spur Orthopan UR, Spur DSX 32/64. First results were outstanding and in the 200 - 240 Lp/mm range. These films deliver incredible detail. Concerning scanning Ektar 100 / Fuji Reala: To maintain the full resolution of these films, you have to use a drum scanner. The resolution of amateur scanners like Nikon Coolscan V etc. is not high enough (effective resolution of Coolscan V is about 70 Lp/mm). The fine grain of Ektar 100 is indeed an advantage in the scanning process. By the way, your Ektar 100 / F6 shot is very nice. Best regards, Henning
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    • Josh, Krasnogorsk factory is still producing Horizonts. They actually listed three models on their site. I do not know are those old stocks but the rumor says that they are holding a large contract for that cameras so you can actually get a brand new one. And if someone is really like extreme he/she can get Horizont 205pc for 120 film it is 5 pound camera ;). But I think that this camera is more like an epic thing. I do not have no Hirizonts in my collection nor I am planning to get one any time soon. I have some shots with Ectar 100 which I really like but they are irrelevant. Can I get this 5 pack of film if I tip you that the original design of the Horizont was done by a guy named Tokarev? He was a famous firearm designer and a personal friend of Comrade Stalin. And a curious fact is that Krasnogorsk put in Horizonts the very same lens that they stick in the KGB spy cameras.
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    • Pines taken with Ektar 100 and using the polarizer filter too, it resulted really awesome blue casts which I like a lot.
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    • At f16 you got everything from 1m in focus.. maybe the crazy in car foto is possible? If the car is big enough. And you could use a close up lens allso...
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    • Hi all ! A friend of mine lend me a Horizon 202 a few months ago. It's an awesome camera, well, for a russian camera lover :-) When the mechanism is not slowed down in the middle of an exposure, the results are pretty fine. I like the panoramic perspective of rotating lens, it' different, and it has its weird twist when things are moving :-) Here is a shot of the Metro I took with the Horizon : Métro I do use Kodak Ektar 100, and I think it's one of the best color negative film I've used. Except maybe the old Ektar 20 :-) The main reason I use Ektar 100 is money, well, here in Montreal, it cost me 2.50$ for a C-41 negative film, anf 7$ for a E-6 slide. I like the slides for their good resolution and lack of grain, but it's more expensive. The Ektar 100 gives me resolution, at less than half the price :-) I did not combine the Ektar 100 and the Horizon 202, but indeed it should be very good.
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    • Mr. Serger.... Thank you for yor film information. When you are through, where will you publish your results, please? I noticed that you gave LP/mm stats for several 100 ISO films. Have you done the "New" Velvia ISO 50 yet? If so, how did it come out? I have a deposited metal on glass Edmund Scientific 2"x2" test target. My Nikon 5000 and 9000 give me 75+or- lp/mm if I get them in good register with the test target. My Minolta 5400 II gets 105 +or-. All are close to their rated PPI claims. On the other hand, both my Epson Flatbeds, the older 2450 and 4180, are way over-rated and not too crisp at that. Not having top resolution in 35mm lenses may be noticed with the top 35mm lenses. One does indeed need a high-rated PMT-tubed drum scanner to evaluate the better 35mm films with the better 35mm lenses. Not having one, I use a microscope to determine resolution. However in medium format, there are few lenses that will do Nikon 5000 type 70-75 lp/mm in the center and with their best production examples to boot. I can think of none that can resolve that high at the edges. In short, Ektar will out-resolve all but a very few medium format lenses, and so will be even more suitable in that size than in 35 mm. Thank you again for embarking on your testing project. I hope to be able to view your results in the near future. Tom Burke
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    • Mr Root.... Thank you again for your continued contributions to Photonet. Not only do you do a good job technically with the subject, but you also choose a wide variety of subjects, where at the end of the series, you will most probably have touched something of interest to every member. I had not realized the Horizon had a fixed focus lens. Do you have an idea, by either direct testing or your evaluation of other known lenses, as to what the resolution might be? As to its having a moving slit for exposure, that too is common in most 35mm SLRs. The majority of 35mm SLRs have curtained, rather than leaf, shutters. With such, anytime one takes a picture at a shutter speed higher than the rated flash sync, the exposure becomes one of a moving slit of different widths, narrowing as the shutter speed rises. Certainly one advantage of a moving lens/slit camera is the side-to-side edge sharpness is the same as the center of the picture. Whereas, if one uses a wide angle lens with panoramic film, the right and left edges can get pretty soft. I wonder, does the Horizon lens overscan vertically enough that the film is within the lens sweet spot? Tom Burke
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    • Hi All! I've worked with a Horizon S3 Pro for about a year now and have a couple of comments to add. The first concerns the banding issue: I've noticed it on pushed black and white films with very low-contrast backgrounds. This is with a camera as supplied, with straight-cut, dry gearing. I've recently tried lubricating this gearing with watch oil so we'll see if there's an improvement. The second is the fixed focus problem. I think the Russians really dropped the ball on this one. As it is supplied, the camera is very useful for night or low light landscapes, since you can open the lens up to f2.8 and still get the horizon in focus. Unfortunately for most of what this camera does best, most of your subjects are closer... a lot closer. I've read of, and tried, a way to set the 'native' focus of the camera to a more generally useful distance. If you use double-sided tape and a thin, low-friction plastic like Acetal on the film rails, it's possible to move the film plane further back from the lens, thereby bringing the focal zone closer to the front of the camera. I forget the calculation, but I used standard Scotchbrite tape and 0.18mm acetal sheet - this ended up being about 0.25 - 0.30mm thick, I think, and brought the focal plane to nominally 2 - 3 meters (6 - 9 feet). Roughly. It doesn't seem to matter that the Acetal is white, but doing this does increase the length of the exposed frame and thus shortens the space between frames, so cutting can be tricky (it's now down to just 1mm between frames). If you're going to try this, first, it's completely reversible, and second, be prepared to ruin some film and have a couple of goes at it. The best results I found were to stick the Acetal down so that it starts and stops just beyond the film guide columns. I found if I went too far past the ends of the film rails that the ends of the acetal tended to come off the surface and presented the risk of curling up and sticking to the film. Thus modified the S3 is a great people and street camera. It's a shame it doesn't have Av or a vertical rise/fall option (essential IMHO for a swing lens) but otherwise these are great cameras. I'm looking forward to trying the Ektar too, particularly in MF.
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    • I will read these carefully...
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    • I have added my tricks to add tape(Dymo-tape directly) in multiple forums like in delphiforums.com rotating panoramic cameras or rangefinderforum etc. reg. s3pro-it has a problem at fstop 16: diffraction resulting in unsharp images, compare to 8 and 11. kmz-zenit exchanged the good 202-lens for s3pro and the other model. I did a comparison shooting using above mentioned modification to increase DOF on both 202 and s3pro. and the verdict is clear 202 f16 =sharp s3pro f16= unsharp. use a 30x loupe or scan/compare. i used a low rest 2700dpi-scanner to show the verdict. Sad kmz-zenit made this mistake. Solution: exchange the bad with the old good lens from 202. Only an expert can do that and calibrate the lens. KMZ-Zenit(check their website) is investing a lot also in quality. Wonder which products we will see. I could imagine HQ-lenses coming.
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    • S3Pro has a big problem when shooting at f16: defraction/unsharp images when enlarged big, say 30x. they choosed to exchange the lens, said the new one is better. i dont see a difference, maybe coating. 202 does not have this problem. so replacing s3pro-lens by a 202-one would be wise. horizon-experts can do. True for all Horizons: Since focussing is not possible DOF is limited. to increase there are instructions online. simplest is adding dymo-tape which has the right size already. tremendous increase of sharpness for foreground without need to stop down. e.g. at f5.6. infinity is untouched if stopped down. in my opinion with this addition of tape to film-rail f5,6/8 gives good DOF for both fore-and background.  instruction can be found via google or on kievreport delphiforums rotating panoramic cameras. http://forums.delphiforums.com/pancams

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