Panorama Wide Pic
Point & Shoot

Panorama Wide Pic Toy Camera Mini-Review – by Holly Gilman

February 26, 2021

Late last year Hamish gave me one of his old point and shoot cameras for a project I was doing. He even paid the postage for me. He called it Karmera and showed me this article here. I wanted to do the same for someone else but unfortunately my camera collection, other than my prized cameras, are worth very little so the gesture seemed to me, to fall short.

I had two cameras that I had ready to go to new homes and Hamish suggested that I write a little review of each before offering them up. I’m very glad he suggested that as I found out that one of the cameras doesn’t actually work. Oh well, that can go into my “learning how to fix cameras” pile.

Panorama Wide Pic

The other I loaded with film and took out over a couple of days between Christmas and New Year. I was astounded. What an experience.

What I was using was a little Panorama Wide Pic, a plastic fantastic toy camera. I had originally thought that I didn’t like the camera and it sat on my shelf for about 4 years. Now I know though, the issue was not the camera, the issue was that I didn’t have enough photographic knowledge to use it.

Sounds silly when talking about a toy camera right? But it’s true. The first time I used the Panorama Wide Pic, I loaded it with film, shot it at anything and everything and was then disappointed that most of my pictures were over or under exposed.

With experience, I am now much better and more able to judge the scene and determine whether the film stock I’m using is appropriate. I’m not amazing at it, just a little more experienced.

Panorama Wide Pic Shot on Ilford HP5+

Shot on Ilford HP5+

And so it was a liberating experience. I loaded the Panorama Wide Pic with Ilford HP5+ on an overcast but otherwise bright enough winter’s day and I was freed from all thoughts of aperture, shutter speed or exposure compensation. All I had to do was take it out of my pocket, open the lens and compose. It’s not going to be my go to camera but I certainly enjoyed it far more than I had expected.

Panorama Wide Pic Shot on Ilford HP5+

Shot on Ilford HP5+

The Panorama Wide Pic

So what can I say about the camera? The Panorama Wide Pic is a simple, plastic, point & shoot. There is absolutely no control for the photographer except their choice of film ISO and composition of the elements within the frame.

From my research the shutter speed is somewhere between 1/125 and 1/250 of second and the aperture between f/8 and f/16. The focus is not at infinity, suggesting that this may have bizarrely been designed for shooting groups of people rather than landscapes which I find unusual in a faux panorama camera.

Panorama Wide Pic Shot on Ilford HP5+

Shot on Ilford HP5+

A Little Pass-the-Camera Project

And so having shot it, I pondered the subject of giving the the Panorama Wide Pic away, and decided that rather than give the camera away and potentially never hear of it again, that I wanted to organise a pass-the-camera project. The idea being that I would send the camera on to someone to shoot for a couple of weeks and then they’d send it on to the next person. I’ve since been informed of many other projects like this, not least Hamish’s Travelling Yashica project.

The project is being run in the UK only via the UK Film Photography and Darkroom Facebook group. For our initial run we have enough volunteers to take us to the end of the summer, but I am rather hoping that once people see our collective results that we may have more people step forward to take part. If you are interested in joining in (and are in the UK) then you can leave a comment on this article, contact me via my website or DM me on Instagram. I’d love to hear from you!

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8 Comments

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    February 26, 2021 at 10:56 am

    With regards to the pass-the-camera project…
    We did something similar over at Dyxum a few years ago.
    In our case we didn’t pass a camera (although that idea was played with at certain points), but instead a weird egg with legs. The benefit was that the egg toy was light, unique, and of little intrinsic value.
    Mr Egg went all over and featured in numerous travel shots – there was even a second egg that started to go around the world in the opposite direction. Some of the results can be seen here:
    https://www.dyxum.com/dforum/eggciting-journey-around-the-world_topic65507_post734938.html#734938
    …and in follow-on threads.
    (incidentally the guy who came up with the egg project for us, James Munoz, received a ‘Goya’ award from the Spanish motion picture academy for his sound design and editing on the film ‘Buried’ – I went out to Madrid for a photography meet once and saw his sound studio, which was basically a converted flat – they were doing Sound and Foley work on the film ‘Red lights’ at the time…)
    ..anyhow – It seems inevitable that at some point whatever you send around will go astray – but I still think it is a good idea that would come up with interesting stuff while it is in circulation.
    I’d be interested in taking part in such a project. I could even come up with a reasonable donor camera (I’m shooting with a little Canonet 28 rangefinder at present – very workable but not so desirable that anyone would want to snaffle it).

    • Reply
      Holly Gilman
      February 26, 2021 at 4:37 pm

      It’s really nice to hear about other projects that have happened in a similar vein. I know that you have my email address from another project we are working on so just let me know if you want me to add you onto the list 🙂

  • Reply
    Dana Brigham
    February 26, 2021 at 12:53 pm

    Holly — is that one of those (inexpensive) panorama cameras that really just crops the top/bottom of the exposure onto a normal 35mm frame? So that you’d still get the normal number of shots on a roll, just a “letterbox” negative? And the viewfinder “crops” what you see to what the panoramic image will be captured on the negative? Of course that produces a grainier image, since it is exposing less of the 35mm frame, but I think that “seeing” the panoramic view when taking the shot definitely changes the dynamic of composing and shooting. I’m thinking of modifying one of my crappy old point-and-shoots to do the same — just use black electrical tape to crop the frame where the negative gets exposed and also the viewfinder — voila — instant “panoramic” camera! And I like the idea of having it “travel” through others and see what we end up with. Cheers!

    • Reply
      Holly Gilman
      February 26, 2021 at 4:38 pm

      Yes, it is indeed one of those faux panorama camera!

  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    February 27, 2021 at 10:28 am

    According to my then (1990s) photographic shop I have achieved … “exceptional results”.. from one of these cameras. Sure, the horizontally cropped frame will produce a ‘letterbox’ effect on the neg, but the instructions say to “inform the processor to crop the neg to give a full para image”! With its 28mm f11 meniscus single-element lens and 1/125 shutter it really is best suited to hot, sunny foreign holidays with glorious sea and landscapes. Horses for courses?

    • Reply
      Holly Gilman
      February 27, 2021 at 10:51 am

      Ah a definitive comment on the shutter speed and f stop! excellent. I’d love to see some of your shots with this camera!

  • Reply
    Brian Nicholls
    February 28, 2021 at 10:14 am

    Not me, but a good account of this camera here.
    https://www.lomography.com/magazine/207597-see-the-whole-panorama-with-the-readers-digest-panoramic-camera

    • Reply
      Holly Gilman
      February 28, 2021 at 10:40 am

      Ah, an excellent article. And much better pictures than I achieved! Haha

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