Wilderness Wales


Horizon 202

I've recently purchased a Horizon 202, a Russian 35mm panoramic swing-lens camera with a 28mm lens. This gives a 120 degree field of view with an image size of 58x24mm, a ratio of 2.4 to 1. I've had the first two test films back and here are the results. All the shots on the first roll were blurred on the right hand side due to the film not being taut inside the camera (or perhaps due being loaded incorrectly). All shots were taken on Velvia (using a tripod unless otherwise specified), scanned with an Epson Perfection 2450 Photo scanner (another recent purchase) and post processed with Photoshop.

Overall I'm impressed with the sharpness of the lens. Only the centre of the lens is used so the usual problems of softness and vignetting at the edges of wide angle lenses is avoided.

However, the very top of the photos exhibited vignetting and odd marks (which I've rubber stamped out) but that can easily be cropped off, and in most photos that would be a good idea anyway since excess sky is rarely desirable unless the clouds are particularly good. Cropping exactly 1/5th off the top gives a very convenient 3:1 ratio which looks psychologically more panoramic and stops the horizon being dead centre, so it's probably a good thing to do that, being the next best thing to a shift lens.

Oddly enough there seems to be no vignetting at the bottom of the photos. Also I've noticed that the horizon is not dead centre in the shots, but slightly lower, indicating that more of the top of the lens is used than the bottom, hence the more apparent vignetting. It's only a very small discrepancy though.

A small number of photos have suffered from vertical banding, which indicates that the rotation speed is not constant, but it's only happened on three slow rotation shots and all the others have been fine, so I don't know why this has happened on these few occasions. More testing with slow rotation is required. In practice I doubt I'll be using the slow rotation very often anyway, so it shouldn't be much of a problem.

Hand holding the camera seems to be quite practical, although a tripod is desirable in order to get the composition and the levelling perfect. It can be levelled hand held but care is needed not to tilt the camera when pressing the shutter release. One or two shots were a little soft at 1/60th so I wouldn't want to make a habit of using that speed hand held, a slightly faster film speed of 100 ASA would be better (Provia F). The ideal compromise for fast moving work is a monopod, which gives much better stability than hand holding, and makes it easier to keep your fingers out of the way of the lens.