New Panoramic 35mm Camera from Jeff Bridges and SilvergrainClassics in the Works

New Panoramic 35mm Camera from Jeff Bridges and SilvergrainClassics in the Works

I'm a sucker for panoramic cameras. Over the last decade, I've shot on my share, having spent more than I should have on a collection of various bodies. They've followed me to space shuttle launches, riots, out the back of aircraft, and to the White House. But as the world shifted to digital, the number of functional panoramic film cameras out there in the wild has dwindled, driving the prices through the roof.

More than that, the parts necessary to keep them functional are rapidly being used up. While people like Don at DAG Camera Repair are working miracles keeping my cameras on the right side of functional, the availability of parts won't last forever. Eventually, they're going to run out.

Images from my flight with the Geico Skywriters, shot on my Hasselblad X-Pan.

Imagine my surprise when I read this afternoon that SilvergrainClassics and the Bridges family are teaming up to bring the famous Widelux series back to life. It's difficult to convey the excitement this brings forth: new 35mm cameras are almost non-existent; but a new 35mm swing-lens panoramic? I feel like I've won the lottery. 

Senator John McCain's funeral, shot on my Hasselblad X-Pan.

There are several types of panoramic cameras out there — though almost all of them are secondhand at this point. The Hasselblad X-Pan series (along with the identical Fuji TX line) is perhaps the most famous — it's a rangefinder body with an electronic light meter. They tend to be sturdy (though I once ripped the strap lug out of mine jumping off an electrical box during the Trump Inauguration protests) and they produce some absolutely stunning imagery. The downside is that they have become incredibly popular over the years and the prices have gone through the roof. Moreover, the electronics are very difficult to replace. 

A frame from the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump, shot on my Widelux. Not the curved nature of the image.

The Widelux is a rotating-lens style of camera, meaning that the lens spins around a fixed axis. Unlike the X-Pan, which projects against a flat film plane, the Widelux's film plane is curved. This can produce some interesting effects, particularly if your camera isn't perfectly level. That said, the lenses are incredibly sharp and the images they produce can be wonderful in the right hands. There are other rotating-lens cameras such as the Noblex series and Russian-made Horizon series, but — at least in my opinion — the Widelux series is my favorite. 

An accidental double exposure of Donald Trump speaking to the media prior to a departure on the South Lawn, shot on my Widelux.

I hope to hear more in the coming days about this, and will update this article as more news becomes available. 

C.S. Muncy is a news and military photographer based out of New York City and Washington D.C. With a passion for analog and alternative formats, he is rarely seen without a full cup of coffee and is frequently in trouble.

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I've been fascinated by panoramas ever since I saw work by Australian photographer Ken Duncan in the early 90s, he shot a lot around the beach side town of Terrigal in New South Wales where I lived.

I was never able to afford a panoramic camera, but started shooting panoramas when I got my first DSLR, perhaps it's time to give film a try, I haven't shot 35mm in 20+ years, it might be fun to explore.

There are some affordable models out there. You can find Horizon models on eBay for less than $200. There are also cropped-frame panoramic cameras like the Nikon F70QD (essentially 35mm frames cropped at the top and bottom) for even less.

Thank you.
Love your work, the unconventional panoramic subject matter is intriguing.