5 frames with...

5 frames with Pentax MZ-3 and Voigtlander 20mm in Panorama Mode – By Aivaras

July 28, 2020

First of all – they made me do it!

After reading recent Rob Jamieson and Hamish Gill posts about panoramic function of Pentax MZ series bodies, I remembered what I have to hand and was triggered to shoot a roll of film in panorama mode. Panorama format is wider, so I decided to max out wide look, mounting my Voigtlander Color-Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL Aspherical lens  on Pentax MZ-3 body.

The film used was my usual favorite: Kodak Portra 400.

A short reminder about panoramic function on Pentax MZ bodies. There is a switch that pulls up curtains that cover up and down part of film frame and viewfinder. Essentially, it’s a crop, that cuts approximately half of 35mm frame and lets you compose in panoramic format.

I’ll be honest, and remind myself that I looked at this function as a useless gimmick of the past, but… things change. I have started to use more formats since those days, such as square for medium format. I have also started to pay attention to Hasselblad X-Pan / Fuji TX shots. This way is a very very expensive one, I can’t justify costs of these cameras for myself. In this case Pentax MZ is a cheap compromise that lets me scratch this wide-look-itch.

I got about ten keepers from this roll, even though most of the shots were made in less than perfect harsh midday sun. Composing the wide field of view panoramic picture was a bit of challenge for me, but somehow, I managed it.

Some notes from shooting panoramic: Image quality suffers noticeably, after all it’s a crop of an already post stamp sized frame, that gets enlarged in further scanning process. It looks to me like that it’s on the limit of possibilities of 35mm film – crop it further and I think it starts to lose aesthetics and IQ starts to fall apart. But still, its usable and fun experiment.

I think that this mode should look better with black and white film, where grain can be more noticeable and forgiving and it shouldn’t ruin the look of the frame. Instead, the shots should be envisioned in a bit “grunge style”. I will get into such experiments, for sure.

Thanks for reading!



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  • Reply
    July 28, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Your photos prove it’s a usable alternative to expensive xpans, especially if you only shoot this format from time to time. I wonder if readers know if any other 35mm cameras have this function of just the MZ3?

  • Reply
    Terry B
    July 28, 2020 at 10:51 am

    Aivaras, I love that final image! The geese(?) really look like they are interacting with you.
    Ever since I first acquired my LX3 and LX7 digital compacts I’ve only ever used them in 16:9 mode, something that they uniquely excel at and which I find extremely pleasing. But I also look at all my images, whether they be scanned film or digital, and experiment with panoramic crops where I can usually find something that is very pleasing or, in some cases, really does “improve” the original image format.
    Except with the Panasonics, where the screen displays the correct ratio, these crop exercises are not the same as your shooting panoramic in which you compose using the actual panoramic FoV. My way is a little cheating!

    • Reply
      July 28, 2020 at 10:57 am

      Well with 20mm lens I was really interacting with geese’s; basically I was lying under their legs and after the shot one of them walked over me. 😉
      I wouldn’t call Your way as “cheating”, but personally me – I can hardly make usable picture with cropping after the shot, I have to see it and compose it the same way it will be in final print / scan.

      • Reply
        Terry B
        July 28, 2020 at 1:44 pm

        That goose certainly had some disdain for you as a photographer. 😂

  • Reply
    Steve Nimmo
    July 28, 2020 at 11:06 am

    I really like at tattoo in the first photo! Just wanted to say that 🙂

  • Reply
    July 28, 2020 at 12:16 pm

    Cat lover! Yes!
    For digital I use Fuji and sometimes crop to the quasi-anamorphic ratio of 2.39:1, the cinematic aspect. Take Kayo wrote a very interesting article on this topic in a recent edition of Fujilove magazine. For film, I was able to buy an XPanII and 45mm when it first came out in 2003, but thought the 30mm might be too wide for my purposes; and now I can’t afford it! Hmm…or can I……
    My own experience of geese is of a crowd of honky, hissing leg bruisers. Lovely pic though, mate.

  • Reply
    Phil Martin
    July 28, 2020 at 1:06 pm

    I have an old Agfa disposable camera with a narrow crop and superwide plastic lens that I used t use quite a bit a couple of decades ago.

    After exposing the original colour film, I carefully replaced it with Ilford XP2 film. The combination of the plastic lens and extreme wide angle, resulted in some variably sharp, distorted but intriguing images. best for dreamy landscape subjects.

    • Reply
      July 28, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Would be interesting to see your results.

  • Reply
    Sacha Cloutier
    July 28, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    I tried this function on my Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 80 and I did find it fun. Sadly, the limitations, or quirks that surprising appeal to certain photography enthusiasts, make the image pleasing due to its light leak (or lens flare depending on who you ask). I’ll probably try it again if it appears on any of the cameras that I pick up. Really cool about the geese.

  • Reply
    Joe Van Cleave
    July 28, 2020 at 8:42 pm

    It would be cool to have a 120 film camera do panorama mode cross-wise to the film, you’d have images wider than 35mm-format panos and could fit maybe 30 images to a roll.

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