"Bazooka" Panoramic Camera


The more I used my F2-72 camera the more I liked the 3:1 aspect ratio it produced. However, due to the very wide 35mm lens on the 72mm long negative many shots showed severe distortion (which is just normal for wide angle lenses). To overcome this and in order to allow the use of selective focus I though about a camera with a slightly longer lens. Something that would in the vertical come closer to a normal lens in regular 35mm photography.

I already knew about the Pannaroma build by Thomas Roma. His camera was a Nikon F body milled out to give a 24x72mm frame (1:3 aspect ratio) and used a Mamiya 6.3/50mm lens. Instead of thinking about my own way of doing it I decided to more or less copy his design.

I didn't want to call this camera a Pannaroma, because it's not the real thing. A photographer friend of mine, when he saw the camera, immediately called it a 'Panzerfaust', which translates to 'bazooka'.

Compared to the Pannaroma, which uses a Nikon F body my reincarnation uses a Nikon F2. I just don't like the fact that the back of the F comes off completely when one changes the film. Just one more part to hold in hands (I just have two of them!) and to sooner or later drop into the dust.
One important criterion when choosing a body for these kind of modifications is that the body has to be long enough to allow room for increasing the frame to 72mm. Many modern camera bodies are just not large enough.

Below details of the lens mount. It uses the two front rings of the Mamiya macro spacer ring set. The first one has the lens mount, the second (shown in the right picture) only has regular threads and screws into the front ring.

The CNC milled 10mm thick aluminum block has a circular slot in it. The spacer ring snugly fits into that and gets hold in place by two set screws that will be added later from the bottom of the aluminum plate (markings for holes already visible).
The other two holes are for mounting the bottom plate which has a nice assortment of tripod threads in it.

This time, instead of rebuilding the complete top cover of the camera, I just covered the place where the prism finder would have been with an aluminum profile. It also has a flash shoe on top that holds the finder.
The shutter speed dial and the relase button are just leftovers from the camera's former life and don't have any function anymore.

Unfortunately, this camera is quite heavy and bulky. After one summer of using it I decided it's time to build a lighter version using a 47mm Super Angulon.

© 2009 by Olaf Matthes