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  • Mike

Reviewing the Panaview film camera.

Under the glowing lights I present to you the one, the orange, the Panaview camera.

I know what you may be thinking. It's just another late 90s' compact camera. Well let me change your opinion. This camera has no batteries. Furthermore it has no electronic components at all. It's more analog than my grandpa's old camera, like this thing is at home among the brownies. The Panaview camera folks.

The panaview camera gets it's name from the idea that panoramic = bigger. In camera terms bigger is always better, bigger field of view, closer to 1:1 ratio with the glass to negative. All of that is good. What this camera does though is, it cheats. It takes a standard 35mm frame and cuts it down to a narrower aspect ratio. Then by having a fisheye lens distorting the image to get a wider view to expose. I didn't want to destroy this specimen but if you were to remove the plastic inserts you'd be able to get a fisheye'd full frame pocket camera. Also if you look, there's not a single piece of metal. This camera is extremely lightweight.

So as bad as a camera as this is, What's it capable of in the hands of a master? I asked myself this question and set out with a roll of film to give the camera it's best.

Shooting with this camera.

I'd by lying if I said I got this right the first time. I used some loose negative to play around with the field of view, how it felt. If you shoot this camera like a compact, it'll act like one but give it cinema vibes.

I wasn't perfect with lining these shots up. It's because the camera is so small that you can't hold it straight enough. I think if you wanted really good results you should use a tripod.

Speaking of tripods, it's really hard to not get your fingers over the lens, The lens is recessed and my fingers are tall enough to cause problems.

The camera wasn't all good, it jammed a few times. This was awesome if you like double exposures. As a kid I'd love this sort of collage.

These happy little accidents would happen when the film skipped. One frame would overlap the next.

Overall I'd push this camera beyond what it should by any account be capable of. It's more a testament to the fact that you don't need to have good gear to be a good photographer, it's the eye that you have that no one else has. It's something you've learned, like riding a bike.

This camera was pushed into darkness well beyond what should make a good image, but it has such a strange look to it's images that it just sort of works.

This is awesome! Panorama's work vertically. I just had a ton of fun with this camera, more than any other film camera I've reviewed. It's just so goofy and makes you think outside the box as a photographer, with your compositions and your subject.

Yeah so anyways the camera is bad in a sense of build quality but it's excellent as a way to shoot film. It actually takes the piss out of both the pro and anti film communities because you will never get a look like this on anything digital. It's so fun trying to find wide or tall stuff to photograph with it. "Tiny panoramas."

So that's the camera. If you want to get into film for the first time get this camera over anything fancy, and if you like this look then keep going. The quirkiness of this camera was awesome and warrants a second roll. So this summer I'm going to keep shooting with this camera. I got a cheap roll of expired Kodak Gold that will work great with this camera.

It's got exactly two buttons and exactly two cranks. Wind it up like any disposable camera then rewind the film into the cartridge like any typical analog camera. This whole thing works very well albeit with a lot of scratching noises and squeaks.

So if you can shoot a roll and not smile at least once then you are not a photographer. Anyone at any skill level can have fun with this thing. Take it to Disneyland, take it to the Grand Canyon. Anything you photograph with this camera will come out looking different and that's why this camera is the most interesting of the compact cameras we've reviewed here.

Sample gallery

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