Looking for Cirkut Camera?

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Hi all

I thought I'd post this for anyone wondering, what exactly is a Cirkut camera? Jim's on the lookout for one and I know most people have never seen one and wonder what the mystery is about them. Until you see one working in the flesh and see a contact print up to 6 feet long from one, they'll remain a mystery. But he's a few basics.

They were made for photographing groups, the first ones around 1904 and came in sizes for film of 5, 6, 8, 10 and 16 inches high by whatever length was required to photograph the group, 3 to 4 feet long seems to be average. They use a clockwork motor to pull film and drive the camera around, the modern equivalent of a Cirkut is a Hulcherama. The 16 inch camera with long lens and full rotation can produce a neg up to 20 feet in length...this is one continuos and seemless image!

There's a small band of professionals still using these cameras today (myself included), as we all know, nothing beats a large neg (except a bigger neg!)

No I don't have one for sale but they regularly turn up on ebay. There's some info on my website about them here

-- Clayton Tume (clayton@bigshotz.co.nz), June 07, 2002


I had a 10" and the contact printer and all the gears adn both tripods , one 7' tha other 15' and ten rolls of film, the problem was waiting for a calm windless day. if the movement of the camera was in anyway impeded the negative was darkened and there was a banding. I don't know if kodak still makes the film, I enjoyed mine for 10 years then traded it for a SWC. I did keep the images adn enjoyed exploring the history of the photos taken by that particular camera in the government archives adn was able to get some of the images made by the original owner. These were big money makers. The subjects were lined up in a semicircle, uding a rope anfd then the photographer made an image with maybe 200 to 300 people in it!! and EACH one bought a print. Like I said a great money maker.

-- ED (zeke@idirect.com), June 08, 2002.

Hi Ed

They're still a great money maker today!

The Goldbeck company does 900 schools a year with Cirkuts, do the numbers....yes a great money maker.

You are quite right, wind is a problem with these cameras and it's probably worse than a conventional camera. As they rotate, they speed up with the wind and slow down against it. You discover like anything there's little tricks to overcome these problems.

Lighting can also be a severe problem....looking into and away from the sun....check out some group shots done with a Cirkut and you'll sometimes see bizzare lighting....shadows in front and behind the group.

Have a look at this web site, you can download a 2 minute movie for a demonstration on how a panoramic photograph is taken with a Cirkut camera.

There is also some interesting stuff on processing and printing a Cirkut neg.

-- Clayton Tume (clayton@bigshotz.co.nz), June 09, 2002.

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