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Some cameras feature a panoramic mode which is somewhat misleading. In many cases the top and bottom of the field of view are merely blanked off to provide a higher aspect ratio image, but the field of view essentially remains that of a normal wide-angle lens - perhaps 24mm. This is not true panoramic photography.

A better approach to panoramic photography involves using a camera such as a Hasselblad XPan which uses standard 35mm film to record normal 36mm x 24mm images, but also has a panoramic format capable of recording images measuring 65mm x 24mm without changing films.

Other panoramic cameras are fitted with a rotating lens which swivels within a drum to give a very wide field of view without introducing distortion. The consequent field of view in the horizontal plane may then be as much as 150 degrees. The image is directed on to an elongated frame of film held against a curved film plane. The radius of the curved film plane is precisely the same as the focal length of the lens so that a sharp image is delivered to the film across its width. The lens itself is pivoted on its optical centre or entrance pupil. Since only a small part of the arc of the focal plane can be exposed at any one time, other areas of the film are dropped in and out of view as a narrow vertical slot known as a fishtail sweeps around the arc in manner comparable to the operation of a focal-plane shutter.

Finally, it is possible to obtain rotational cameras capable of recording a full 360 degree panorama. These rotate in one direction whilst recording an image on a film rotating in the other. Modern rotational cameras which use 35mm, 120mm or 220mm film stock are available. Digital rotational cameras are also manufactured.


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