Panoramas are an excellent way of seeing the world around you, but it’s not always easy to get them right. Stitching photos together is nearly impossible without decent software, and most decent software costs a metric crapload of money.
There are decent ‘real’ panorama cameras out there, of course, but cameras like the Hasselblad X-pan will set you back as much as a small car.
Luckily, there are other products out there…
One of these cameras is the Horizon Perfekt. It’s a funny looking little thing, but despite of this, I’ve heard good things about it. It uses a swinging lens which sees a full 120 degrees, on a 58mm long negative – nearly the width of two standard frames, and a far better solution than the wide-angle setting on an APS camera.
The next step up on the ladder is the Widepan Pro 2. Each shot employs a movable swing lens for a 140-degree field of view and all those curved-horizon distortions. Using its included adapter, the Widepan Pro II is also the longest 35mm panoramic machine of all time. Each frame is 110mm wide, which is over three times the length of a normal 35mm frame. Very cool indeed, but also quite expensive.
If you want to go full-out hardcore, you can go medium format. Whereas the Hassy X-Pan will take 36mm film, the Widepan camera will fill 1/4 of a 120 medium format film in a single shot. Amazing resolution, wicked quality, and a heart-stopping price… And then comes the problem of ‘what the hell do I do with a negative that big’ – you could scan it in part by part and piece it together in the computer, but I don’t know of any negative scanner or darkroom copier that will accept a negative that big. And getting panoramas drum-scanned does seem slightly over the top. Mostly a gimmick, then.