Since returning from my travels in 2004, I have been keen to develop my panoramic photography. As a result, I have amassed some fairly exotic equipment, including amongst others:
1) Horseman SW612 with 45mm & 65mm lenses
2) Noblex U150
3) Gaoersi 624 with Fujinon 120mm and 210mm large format lens
4) Horizon 202
All of these cameras have their strengths and weaknesses but I think it is the Noblex that I tend to use the most, principally because it has a gorgeous lens, does not require focusing (always shoot with a decent depth of field) and most importantly, you can shoot handheld. This last point is something that is vitally important as I tend to shoot in a lot of inaccessible places, where normal camera gear would be far too bulky to cart about.
When I shoot around the UK, I tend to use the Gaoersi as the 6×24 negatives look just incredible on my lightbox. The Fujinon 120mm lens is the widest lens I could shoehorn onto the Gaoersi, without sending the cost f the camera set up into the stratosphere by purchasing a Schneider Super-Symmar XL 110mm f5.6 or a Rodenstock Grandagon N 115mm f6.8 (which is a stunning lens). I had my camera calibrated by the guys in Causeway Bay in Hong Kong in 2007 and they did a fantastic job.
Most recently, I purchased a black focusing cloth from Quiet Works in the US. Although this slows me down, the viewfinder will never give you the same impression of the scene that a glass screen and black cloth can, especially is you are using filters.
The Horseman has been a big disappointment so far. Although it is tiny and really agile, the problem with the 45mm lens is the need to shoot with a centre filter. The lens itself is a work or art, perhaps the best lens I have ever owned. However, you cannot shoot without a centre filter as the drop off is 2.5 stops from the centre. If you do attach the filter, unless it is exceptionally bright or you have a fast emulsion, you have to use a tripod, which considering the portability of the camera, does miss the point somewhat. The worst thing about the filter is that Horseman sting you for another £350 after tax on something that should really come bundled with the £2000 lens.
As a result of this, I am aiming to try a 90mm lens on the Horseman that does not require a filter and is not quite so wide angle. Hopefully, this will be a more conducive set up to my shooting requirements, especially considering how expensive the Horseman system is.
Has anyone else had issues with their Horseman or are you converts? How about the Gaoersi? I know a lot of people rave about the Fotoman but why pay double the money for the same thing?
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