View Full Version : Is 6x12 considered LF? (Noblex?)

28-Jul-2004, 19:56
I think the term Large Format is a relative term here. How small is LF? Is a 6x9 view camera considered LF?

How about 6x12 such as found in the Noblex Panoramic cameras? (Yes, I do have questions about the use of the Noblex. Where to ask such questions?)

How can one travel with a Noblex camera that does not have a lens cover for protection? I am planning a trip to Tibet and was thinking of the awesome opportunities there. Dust, wind, cold, probably no tripod, any thoughts or recommendations??

tim atherton
28-Jul-2004, 20:25
I guess the smaller sized formats tend to qualify when use din cameras with view camera movments.

That said, ocassional list member Geoffrey James - known for his 8x10 work, uses Noblexes a lot now. He's commented to me more than once that with the 5x12 neg and the ultra sharp lens it feels much more like 4x5 when working with it and printing. He formerly used an old Kodak panning camera for his books on Italian Gardens and the Campagna Roman, as well as some of the Viewing Olmsted work I think and a recent book on Mount Royal Cemetary in Montreal was witht he Noblex (in colour).

Here's a link to some of his work in Toronto:




I seem to recall they can be a bit temperemental and suffer from mechanical failure every now and then, which is why I think he has more than one body?

David Van Gosen
28-Jul-2004, 21:00
Wow, Tibet. That sounds like a good time. I think you're gonna use a lot of zip-lock freezer bags. They're great for protection from dust or dampness.

I'd also definitely take a second or third medium format camera. Don't know how reliable you can expect a Noblex to be, but things do happen, even with the best gear. (You've heard of Mr. Murphy, right?) And I'd guess that your chances of anything more than self-repair are about nil until you return.

A table-top tripod is much better than none at all. You can brace it against a tree, a rock or your pack.

Ted Harris
28-Jul-2004, 21:17

I shoot mostly LF but seldom travel without my Noblex 150F.

First, to respond to Tim's comments I do not find the camera to be the least bit finicky. You do have to be careful in using the proper sequence when starting a new roll or you will mess up the frame spacing. The lens is incredibly sharp and coupled with the variable focusing od the F model is wonderful. I have never used the model with shifts so can't comment. Before I settled on the Noblex I tried the Fuji G617 (I didn't like the coveragge as much as that from the swing lens) and the Seitz Roundshot (liked the coverage but just found it difficult and not intuitive to use). All I can say is that i wish I had a second body 'cause I sure csn run film through it fast. The camera can be a real money maker and I love the images.

As for dust, etc. problems remember that the lens is covered when not in use. As for handholdingm the camera it is very difficult other than at the highest shutter speeds and even then you have another problem .... be very very careful not to get your fingers in the picture.

I continue to have trouble uploading images here but please contact me offlist and I'll be glad to send you some.

John Kasaian
28-Jul-2004, 21:43

I've never had a Noblex but I did have a Cyclops 612. FWIW for a panning lens camera I can't imagine not using a tripod. OTOH a panning lens can give you some really neat effects---distortions really. Not using a tripod with a panning lens tends to emphasize those effects. Check out Joseph Meehan's book "Panoramic Photography" published by Amphoto and you'll see what I mean. After seeing Richard Boulware's work with a Fuji fixed(not panning)lens employed as a handheld aerial camera I think that if my plans didn't include the availabiltity of a tripod I'd opt for a fixed lens panorama camera such as the Fuji or Linhof. Also(and I don't know if it holds true with Noblex, but sure was a concern with the Cyclops) consider the possibilities of vertical format "panoramas." I'd never know if Cyclops was going to shoot my shoes or if I'd get the top of the waterfall. I don't think that would be a problem with the viewfinder on the Fuji. My 2-cents.

Hey, have a great trip!

Frank Petronio
28-Jul-2004, 22:29
I've never found a ~ good ~ panoramic photo forum, so I would say sure, 6 x 12 plenty large enough to discuss here. I had a Noblex 612UX (with shift and slow speeds) for a few months and really liked it, but had to sell it at the time. I could hand-hold 400ASA film in good light - much slower and it was an iffy outcome. It really needs a tripod. I used the upward shift for almost every shot, landscapes and architecture. I too was afraid of dust and cleaning but it is a nicely built camera - but it's not as tough as knock-around, toss in the backpack camera. If I was hiking with it, I'd probably wrap it in a large plastic bag, with a foam padded "Domke" wrap. And then wrap a sweater around it.

You can do long exposures by making multiple exposures. The maximum shutter speed is 2 seconds if you get the additional slow-speed module that screws into the base (comes with the UX, I think). Your 2-second exposure actually takes almost 45 seconds for the rotating lens to complete its "2-second" rotation (each segment gets a full 2-seconds.) This isn't a problem (except for your patience) in most cases (like interiors), but during sunset, when light is fading fast, your exposures can't be made fast enough to keep up with the fading light levels. For example, a 15-sec @ f/16 exposure might take 8 minutes to do - in which time you've lost another stop of light, requiring even more exposure time!

Nick Meers, a UK photographer, has the best pano book I've seen, called "Stretch." You can find it at Amazon or at http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/books.htm#meers

The Noblex and the other rotating cameras are in a different league from the fixed lens pan cameras like the Fuji or Linhof 6x17, or the Linhof and Horseman 6x12. These non-rotating cameras are very nice and reliable, but nowhere near the same viewing angle and unique look of images from the rotating cameras.

There was a post a couple of weeks ago about some Chinese "knock-offs" of 6 x 17 Linhofs, not that I condone that sort of thing...

tim atherton
29-Jul-2004, 00:44
First, on the handheld thing, I have a colleague who, as well as doing landscapes etc, uses one handheld quite a bit for street type photography. Works very well, with interesting results.

As well, the more I look at it, the more I see there is a real difference between if you like "true" panoramics from a scanning lens camera, and those which are really just a crop from a larger negative with a WA lens (fuji 6x17, horseman 6x12, 8x20 etc). I think in part the scanning lens is much closer to our vision and how we use our eyes?

Was just looking through my Sudek Panoramics books after reading the first post, taken with a Kodak pano I think (?) - quite amazing and often unique images (and wonderful vertical panoramics of trees). There are 150+ images. It's certainly one of the best books of this sort of work. (mind you, on the LoC site you can download some huge Cirkut type panos of beauty paegants from the 1920's - they are really neat!)

I'm resisting the whole Noblex thing like crazy, because I already spend all my spare pennies on 8x10.... but our "big sky" country up here makes Montana look like a suburb - it would interesting to try one out.

(PS on the "finicky" thing - I was going more by a few reports of mechanical failure under hard prolonged use - a couple of dozen negs a day etc - as well made as they are, there is just more to go wrong than on a Toyo 45A... maybe the reports were unusual though?)

Mark Sampson
29-Jul-2004, 05:58
I don't know the Noblex cameras- but I did hear that they incorporate some design improvements over the 35mm Widelux, which is basically similar. The Widelux *is* a delicate camera, and if not handled with care, you'll see banding on your negatives- due to the lens not rotating smoothly during the long exposures. I've used two Wideluxes. One was borrowed, and showed the banding problem after awhile (no, I didn't abuse the camera). The other was rented from L&R and was fine. The Noblex looks like an improved design- my trouble is that I'm not seeing things that way these days.

Frank Petronio
29-Jul-2004, 07:32
I'm not a big fan, but McDuff Everton uses the Noblexes for many popular travel magazine illustrations. He has a big coffetable book out - "The Western Horizon" - which gives you a good idea of the capabilities.

The 120 Noblexes are sturdier and better made than the 35mm versions, and lightyears ahead of the Russian Horizant and Panon Widelux. The electric motor (almost) eliminates any chance of banding, which is a common occurance with the mechanical cameras (which require regular adjustment.)

I'd have no qualms about the sturdiness or quality of a 120 Noblex, so long as you buy it in good repair. The fixed lens cameras are always going to be more reliable, but they really give you nothing that you couldn't get from cropping a 4x5 with the same lens.


29-Jul-2004, 09:28
I have a Widelux, and IMHO you can hand hold rotating lens cameras. Though whenever practicable I use a tripod with any camera.

Beware that in the wide open spaces, like Tibet (say hi to my wife, she's there right now!), many images disappear off into the distance with such a wide angle as the Widelux. Sorry, I don't know the numerical size, nor how it compares with the size of the Noblex. But I have learned the counter-intuitive point that it works better for medium distance than long distance shots.

D. Kevin Gibson
29-Jul-2004, 11:47
The problem with that Michael, is that the Fuji/Linhofs are really in effect just crops from a big negative (you've just chosen not to carry the extra film around with you...).

I'd rather just use 4x5 or 8x10 with various lenses and be able to crop out those kinds of "panos" as I want to - or not - as the case may be.

I have a number of of very nice 4x10 "panos" of that kind - don't have a 4x10 camera though

The thing with the panning lens cameras is that it's a very different look much closer to human vision in many ways, which is why it actually works especially well with the close up and middle distance type of images - or if you are shooting very wide landscapes, images which also have those elements in them.

Despite the format of the negatives, they are really two very different beasts

Frank Petronio
29-Jul-2004, 18:41
I've also used a monopod with things like the Noblex or Fuji 6x9s - nice compromise between quickness and steadiness - can safely shoot down to ~ 1/15 @ f/5.6 with one. Very easy to travel with - can even use one as a hiking pole (the Leki model).

Chris Partti
30-Jul-2004, 10:53
I'm interested in what people think about the option of using a regular MF camera to make digitally stitched panoramas instead of a swing lens. It seems to me that the results are similar in look, but the MF is far more versatile, especially for travel.

tim atherton
30-Jul-2004, 11:41

not quite what you were asking, but John Brownlow uses a Noblex - for both "landscapes" and also some street photography (only a tiny bit at the link below)


(keep going down - there is more at the bottom, with links to the software)

and also


But he also does 360 degree stitched digital panoramas - a few landscapes - but again, often street scenes - usually just using a monopod. (the street scenes are neat because you get whole stories going on in them, sometimes with the same person turning up twice or more in the full circle). The stitching software is excellent these days - 9 times out of ten it will stitch together perfectly with no noticable seam almost automatically.


(some of those are fun because you can load them into photoshop and then pick your own start point on the 360 degrees to make a very different image....)

Anyway, you could pretty much do the same as above using MF and scanning it. (bear in mind that with a standard 8/9/10/12mp digital camera you have plenty enough information/data for a really good 8x10 or 11x14. So if you make one of these panos from such a camera even say 12" high (you could probably go taller), then it's going to be 66" long.... even if it's only 180 degrees you will be geting 12"x33")

5-Nov-2004, 11:21
here is the forum your will need. i opened it around july 04:
http://forums.delphiforums.com/pancams/start (http://forums.delphiforums.com/pancams/start)

forum created to exchange experience, discussing problems and force the producers to better cameras.

i am a professional rotating pancam-photographer since 12 years with experience since 25 years. i used widelux 35mm and noblex 120(lent). i have horizont,horizon 202(both nighmares.never buy one without having tested them or your will get the same nightmares-these cameras are very unreliable, i have just received a bad info from china), s3-pro(mine has a problem at fstop 16(is in cure at kmz-the factory in russia-krassnagorsk), roundshot 65/70/220(too heavy carrying around and too limited-good also for helicopter up to 360), widelux 1500( never buy one except you can accept the mistakes when having tested).

i was very satisfied with the first noblex model, the newer ones having the same topquality. but: be aware: when its windy the air could stop the drum. this happened when shooting in helicopter.
shift-capability is very limited but could save an image.
the noblex 120/220 and the new 135mm are the best multipurpose-pancam for travelling around. when my horizon s3-pro comes back repaired i would support the new horizon s3-models. they are all mechanical and silent now. with high-speed-shutters in the newest model like new noblex 135.
widepan is a good copy of widelux 1500. has still a slight overexposure problem at left startside with 1/250. users told me it can be corrected in photoshop. i had to do this is the lab with widelux 1500-a camera from adorama-who refused to send me testfilm beforebuying(because they knew of the bad design!) very annoying and unbelievable in widepan since its image lenght is 10mm smaller. it the design has been perfect this could have been avoided. we tried to improve it in widelux 1500. maybe further improvements are prossible the make the drum start earlier to have the right speed when reaching the film.
maybe horizon 205 pc is a good alternative(1400 usd) but i had no time testing at photokina. it lacks shorter than 1/60 but has extended exposure times, 7-8mm shift (better than noblex) and 55m instead of 50mm image-height, all great advantages. having the same lens design like widelux 1500 i guess that focussing below 5m will created reduced resolution(seen on large prints of 20x50cm min.). noblex and widepan-cameras have this major problem solved with eighter intelligent lens/fosussing-design and/or closeup-lenses. btw: we-my repairman had to rebuilt the widelux 1500 completely-maybe newer version are improved. panon made every mechanical mistakes you can imagine. no precision tool. unsharp images with banding.....(vertical balck stripes. i have lost endless of time and money. the same with horizont/horizon 202. i have lost most of last 25 years due to rotating pancams named horizon(the metallic one), horizon 202 and widelux 1500. had i only bought roundshot 47/120 for 10000 usd 20 years ago!

i like most that italian gardens book of jefferey james. it was made with a kodak panoram pancam with 75mm lens. the images are simply superbe.

23-Mar-2006, 10:44
Thought I'd mention that I have dropped my 35mm Widelux F8 from chest level onto the sidewalk twice (first Paris, then San Francisco), and that while it has resulted in significant cosmetic damage, the thing still shoots crystal clear images. So, while things can go wrong with the mechanism, it is not necessarily fragile to impact.

If it's been on the shelf a while, I always fire the shutter 10 times at each of the 3 speeds before loading. Works for me.