Anticipating the Lomography Spinner

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Elton John's "Songs from the West Coast" CD cover

Ever since I’ve seen Sam Taylor-Wood’s 360 degree medium format panorama series (title) I know that sooner or later I had to get my hands on one of those cameras.

At 1 picture per single roll of film, scanning would have been a nightmare – not to mention processing costs. Elton John’s CD cover for “Songs from the West Coast” is a good example of her work with this camera.

Pictures look other worldly, as if they are a never ending panoramic shot. They contain weird distortions that do not come from a fisheye lens. It’s like watching a Cinerama movie like How the West was won: I’m thinking of the end sequence of “modern times”.

It’s a shame that these cameras are so rare and exotic that it’s unlikely mere humans like myself would pick one up to play with. Ever.

Cut to July 2010. Enter Lomopgraphy and their new 35mm version of this beast: The Spinner! At £110 it’s not a toy – it’s a dream come true.

First I get the newsletter. Then Adam tells me about it. Maybe it wasn’t a dream after all, and maybe I will get to play in this lifetime.

Before I begin, let me say that my anticipation for The Spinner is in the upper echelons. It’s easy to get disappointed, so I’ll try to calm down. The last time I was this excited to get my hands on a camera was when the Zenit S3 Pro was on its way to my door – a camera that I meant to write a review about for nearly a year.

I remember the feeling of unboxing it. The feeling of holding it in my hands, and the clueless hours trying to work out how to use this thing. I’m looking forward to all this again with The Spinner. Seeing the first roll of film was breathtaking: what were clearly “normal photographic analogue pictures” had a subtext I hadn’t seen before in my work: Casually panoramic I’d call it. A bit like low quality Peter Lik. But I digress.

At the time of writing, I only have a few ingredients: the knowledge that The Spinner exists, a shop where to get it from, the desire to pick it up, the necessary cash, a fistful of film and a belly full of excitement. Weather isn’t on my side by the looks of it, so all I can do is think of some questions while I’m sitting on a train back home:

How many pictures could fit on a roll of film?

I can probably answer this myself with some thinking. If the Zenit S3 Pro has a 120 degree angle of view and produces a negative of 24x58mm, then we’re dealing with 24x170ish negatives in the Spinner. The S3 Pro takes 21 pictures, so that should be about 7 or 8 photos per 36 exposure roll.

How will it deal with exposure?

Probably by slowing down the rotational speed of the camera. It must rotate, and the film must be thread around a round inner film plate of sorts. A slit will produce the exposure. But how long will that take?

What Exposure options will I have?

Will it work indoors?

Is it made of plastic or metal?

How big is it? What’s the closest distance I can take a picture at?

What happens if I move the camera while taking a picture?

All will be revealed when I pick it up tomorrow – come rain or come shine.

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