Video: Thomas Heaton tries Noble Design’s new 3D-printed, lightweight panoramic film camera


posted Monday, September 19, 2022 at 11:45 AM EDT


"I absolutely love a pano," remarks photographer Thomas Heaton in the introduction to a recent video. "You know what I love more than a pano? A film pano," he continues. The video below is part love letter to panoramic film photography and part review of Noble Design's new 6x17 and 6x12 lightweight film cameras. The ND 6x12 and ND 6x17 pro film cameras are compact and lightweight in part because they utilize your smartphone as the viewfinder and light meter.

While using a smartphone as the viewfinder does somewhat lessen the overall "analog" experience, it makes panoramic film photography more accessible, which is undoubtedly a great thing. It's also important to emphasize that a company making a brand-new panoramic film camera in 2022 is unusual. If you want to buy a used pano film camera like the Hasselblad XPan, you'll spend thousands, maybe even nearly $10,000. Heaton has a Fujifilm GX617 film pano camera, which is about $3,000 these days. Beyond being expensive, cameras like the GX617 are massive. A kitted GX617 is about 2.5kg (5.5 lbs). On the other hand, the ND 6x17 with a lens is just over 1,035g (2.3 lbs.). Further, the ND 6x17 body starts at just under $900.

If panoramic film photography is expensive and challenging to get into, why would someone start now? As Heaton explains, it's fun. He says there's not much more satisfying in photography than capturing a great shot using a film camera. Further, you can capture lovely images.

Heaton wasn't sold on using his iPhone as the viewfinder for the ND camera, but the experience looks decent. With an accompanying app, you can simulate the look of the film and lens, get an accurate preview, and even use your phone as a light meter. Compared to Heaton's purpose-built Sekonic light meter, the app seemed to do a pretty good job.

If you want to learn more about the ND 6x12 and ND 6x17 panoramic film cameras, visit Noble Design's website. Following Heaton's video, the team has decided to integrate spirit levels into the camera's top plate and add a hinge and overcenter catch to the film back.

To see more from Thomas Heaton, visit his website and YouTube channel.

(Via Thomas Heaton