|KMZ (Krasnogorsk), FT-2, 35mm Russian Panoramic camera, 1961|
The FT-2 Panoramic camera was produced by KMZ in Krasnogorsk, Russia - the same company that churned out the Zenit-E in vast numbers. The FT-2 wasn't produced in such prodigious quantities however, with a reported 16,600+ examples of this niche market camera being produced. This is a panoramic camera, not to be confused with a wide angle lens camera. It takes in a view of 120° on standard 35mm film, but loaded in special cassettes. In these types of camera the lens swings around a vertical axis, projecting the image onto a curved film plane through a slit, avoiding some edge distortions evident with wide angle types, whilst introducing a whole host of its own. The speed of sweep varies from a leisurely 0.44sec for the 1-50th setting to a rather more dynamic 0.05sec for the 1/400th setting. A tripod is fairly necessary as, ideally, the horizon ought to be level also the mass of the rotating assembly requires a fair degree of torque to get it moving, with implications if not bolted down fairly firmly. The camera is quite specialist and full of compromises, the most limiting is the fixed aperture lens of f/5 and few shutter speeds making exposure control awkward. Using a 25 or 50ASA film will get you in the general area in daylight. A simple solution is to make the slit narrower at the focal plane, easily achieved with folded card. Halving the width will effectively double the shutter speed. An alternative solution is to insert a fixed stop folded from card and slipped in place in front of the lens, permanently stopping it down to, say, f/11 - this also improves the depth of field. This experiment was conducted in Test 2, the results proved positive. A still simpler solution is to pick conditions that favour the camera's capabilities. Amongst the camera's other well documented idiosyncratic design are the reliance on specific 35mm film holders and a film counter that you have to count three rotations plus one segment, as there is no mechanical stop. Less obvious is a built in vertical lens shift. The camera sports a pressure plate covered in shutter blind cloth, this is an original feature, but to say it looks suspiciously like an afterthought is putting it mildly.
Click on "this camera's gallery" button, below, to see sample images.
*hidden on the barrel, but sometimes scratched into the shutter axis spindle, visible if you remove the shutter cocking lever.
Often reported in three types, the major difference being the ability
to alter the tension in the shutter spring via
a dial on the bottom of the earliest models. Later ones, such as this,
could still be adjusted but via a technician removing the base plate and
winding it up a little more - or less, the dial being deleted . The differentiation
seems to become a little confused after this , with notable sources saying
that a single sided lever and Latin markings denote a third type. Which
makes this a type two and a half! It's probable that the changes took
place gradually and that there is no definite cut off between 'type 2'
and 'type 3' during the five year balance of the eight year production
run. Assuming KMZ were following their established practice, the first
two digits of the serial number denote the year of manufacture. This means
that the change of design from a base plate tensioner to one without occurred
in 1961, as an example of type 1 with serial 611204 has also been seen,
since our example is numbered 611931 and does not have the baseplate
tensioner, it's reasonable to assume this change took place in 1961. This
camera was acquired in March 2007 via a well known internet auction site
and is a good example which has been well looked after and apparently
seen light use by its previous owner over 30 years.
See www.poncar.de for a truly spectacular demonstration of what can be achieved with this camera when in skilled hands.
© Living Image Vintage Cameras 2000-2020