Alan Duncan of Canny Cameras is a man with a sense of humour. I’m sure he must still be chuckling at the moment I agreed to be sent a mystery camera with the promise of sending him a few words about my experience with it. The mystery camera in question was the Halina Panorama… and really, a few words is probably all that’s conceivably possible to write about such a camera.
The Halina Panorama is one of the most basic cameras I have ever come across. It has no features. It is simply a fixed focus 28mm (possibly slightly wider) f/11 lens, a shutter that fires at 1/125th (supposedly) and a shutter button. By this merit, it is in actual fact even more simple than most of the disposable cameras I have used!
That said, it does have one unique attribute – it’s a crop-frame panoramic camera. The viewfinder and the film gate are both designed to produce a wide 13 x 36mm format crop from the middle of a normal 24 x 36 negative. As such, you might then be wondering why many of the shots in this post are all full frame? Well, I too would be wondering that had I not spotted that the plastic bits inside the camera that usually crop the frame had been removed before the camera landed with me. I did email Alan about this, but I got no response… I do wonder if he was trying to trick me…?
Anyway, regardless of the “modifications” to the camera I shot a roll of Lomography 400. My first instinct was to try and blutac a viewfinder to the top of the camera to aid framing. But, after holding the camera to my eye I realised that the £100ish viewfinder/£1 camera combo was nothing short of bloody ridiculous, so just resorted to using the pano finder as a rough guide. After all, do you really need more than a rough guide when shooting with a camera of this ilk?
I then figured I’d just get my daughter to shoot the roll. These next few are her handiwork. Note the low angle (I’m not that short).
After the first outing with it, her interest in shooting it on another occasion seemed limited. So after Alan emailed me asking how I was getting on, I thought I might as well finish the roll myself. To be fair, I suppose it wouldn’t be right for me to have passed judgement on it without at least having a go with it.
Amusingly, the results didn’t actually come out as bad as I thought they might. I’d figured that the image circle would be too small for full frame shooting, but as there’s no strong vignette it doesn’t seem to be completely the case. That being said, it’s fair to say the image quality does drift from bad to abysmal into the corners. Then there’s the cheap plastic lens flare, and the distortion… etc
So is it worth removal of the panoramic crop film gate? Well, probably not to be honest. Had they been in place, I might have got some slightly more interesting frames. These next few shots were cropped from the centre of the frame in Lightroom, and are therefore are a rough approximation of what I saw through the viewfinder. I’ve selected these ones as just a few that I remember liking the cropped frame when I was shooting
When this camera first landed with me, I just rolled my eyes. I’ve seen and not bought 10’s of these in charity shops, at car boot sales etc. There’s even one in London Camera Exchange in town right now (it’s been there for a while!)
With so many point & cameras available with better lenses, and even in many cases the option to crop the frame, for not much cash, it might make you wonder the point in shooting something so basic and plastic? Well, apart from the attraction that some people have to the plastic lens look – which I must admit does work quite nicely with the Lomography film – I have to say, shooting a fixed focus camera with zero options for changing the settings is undeniably enjoyable. Does that mean I would recommend you seek the Halina Panorama out to shoot yourself? Well, I’m not so sure I would go that far!
Just one recommendation – if you are mad enough to buy one, don’t take out the pano film gate. I always look for redeeming features in cameras, without the pano film gate this camera is just a shit camera. With them, it does at least have some novelty value!
Thanks Alan, you put a smile on my face, if nothing else!
Cheers for reading,