How to make a moving film panoramic camera
1. Identify a 35 mm film camera that you can "destroy".
In my case I used a camera that had a fixed lens which I removed.
In fact I removed the flange to which it was mounted as well.
2. Then I installed a cover for the gaping hole left behind. Cut a hole in center.
3. Then I built-up the body cover with a Canon extension tube with a Canon lens
mount (modified the Canon extension tube) that was just the right distance from
the film plane so I could attach a Canon lens to it that would be at correct distance
from the film plane so I could achieve infinity focus.
4. To determine the distance from the lens mount to the film plane I looked up what
the flange to film plane distance is for Canon FD lenses. It is 42.5 mm.
5. Another way to make sure the lens is the proper distance from the film plane is
to adjust (turn with a lathe) the extension tube shaving off a little bit at a
time until a ground glass placed over the image frame inside the camera shows a
sharp image of a distance object.
6. These first steps allowed me to install any Canon lens of my choosing. I was
most interested in shooting with a wide angle lens of 19mm focal length.
7. A method for determining how long a 360 degree panoramic should be one
simply multiplies the lens focal length times 2 and that multiplied by pi. So for
a 19 mm lens the image should be 119 mm or thereabouts for a 360 degree
8. So now the idea is to make the sprocketed wheel inside the camera turn so that
it advances 120 mm of film each time the camera makes one full rotation. Since
each turn of the adavance sprocket moves 38 mm the sprocket needs to turn
120 / 38 = roughly 3.15 or 3.2 times in the times that it takes the camera to
make one full rotation.
9. OK - how to do this? One way is to figure out a way to attach a motor to
the shaft of the film advance sprocket located inside the camera boy and after
loading the camera with film turn it on starting the film moving through the camera
Then watching the shaft turn, in the time it takes it to turn 3 time roughly you
rotate the tripod head (to which the camera is attached) once.
10. Another way is to devise an automatic way to coupole the rotation of the
sprocket with the rotation of the camera. For this I attached a rubberized wheel
to the film advance sprocket shaft which can be reached at the bottom of the
camera. This wheel then needs to turn 3.12 times in the time the camera makes
one rotation. This would move 120 mm of film with each full turn of the camera.
How to do this?
I decided to cut a depression in a piece of wood that would touch the surface of
the sprocket in such a manner that the sprocket would turn the required number of
times in the time it took the camera to turn once.
The diameter of the depression given the diameter of the rubberized wheel is
a function of the center of rotation of the camera and the center of rotation of the
In my case the distance from center to center was 30 mm and the depression's
radius was 30 + 12.5 or 42.5 mm
and so its circumference was (42.5 x2) x 3.14 = 267 mm,
the circumference of the rubberized wheel was 27 mm x 3.14 = 85 mm
and therefore the rubberized wheel would turn 267 / 85 = 3.14 times while
making a 360 degree travel inside the depression.
And therefore the amount of film that would move through the camera each time
it made a 360 rotation was 3.14 x 38 = 119 and lens required 19x2x3.14 = 119.3mm
To be truthful I did not mange to make all these dimension as designed or
measured and the rubberized wheel has shrunk a bit and now turns a bit farther
than designed and pulled close to 130 mm of film through the camera per
43x2x3.14 = 270
26x3.14 = 81.64
270 / 81.64 = 3.3
3.3x38 = 125 (pretty close even after years of use!)
To see this camera "in action" you can at this Youtube link