Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Really Wide View
Panoramas are hot with a lot of clients right now, but shooting them well takes specialized skill and attention to detail
Panoramas are in these days. The ultra-wide look seems to have a certain cache among clients looking for a new and different perspective. Like them or love them, you might get a call to produce one, and if you do, you'll want to be sure you know how to do it right.
The Film Solution
The simplest and most obvious tool to use is a dedicated panorama camera; these have been around for years in one design or another. 35mm film options like the Hasselblad X-Pan are quite capable of delivering a high-quality image by shooting across a piece of film that's several times larger than a single 35mm-sized frame. One key reason a camera like the X-Pan can make such a good image is because it's not recording an image that's cropped smaller than a normal film exposure. You might remember the consumer APS film format of the mid-1990s. One of the big draws of APS for many consumers was the fact that you had three formats from which to choose when you made an exposure. One of the formats was panorama, but the APS panorama the lab printed was really just a highly cropped and greatly enlarged area within a normal APS frame. The result was dismal image quality, of course. The X-Pan and other 35mm panorama cameras don't operate that way, thankfully, which makes them viable options for professionals.
Before digital technology rocketed onto the scene, the undisputed champion of the panorama image-quality world was the medium- format panorama camera. Fuji was a longtime champion of these cameras, and its 6x17 bodies and lenses remain favorites of dedicated panorama film shooters. The 6x17 camera makes an image on medium-format film that's 6x17cm—a huge piece of real estate. If you've ever seen a transparency from one of these cameras, you can't help but be impressed, and, of course, enlargements are beautiful as long as they're kept within the acceptable range of the film.