Horizon S3 Pro: my Russian Panoramic Camera from an Alternate Reality

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On the top above the lens we have two cogs and several numbers underneath in yellow and white to select aperture and shutter speeds. When you take a picture, the camera sweeps the lens across the width of the film – it can do this in two speeds (white = fast, yellow = slow) selectable via a small switch next to the film rewind krank. The actual shutter speed is a combination of the lens rotation and slit width.

Both cogs can only be used after the shutter has been cocked – you won’t see any markings or numbers beforehand (adding to an otherworldly feel).

This is me working on the Space Shuttle (or was it television? I can't remember...)

We also find the film winder and shutter button with the option for a cable release. Nice! Another nifty addition is a bubble at the top: for best results the camera should be held absolutely flat to avoid curvatures in your pictures. The clever thing about the bubble is that it’s visible from within the viewfinder – someone’s seriously thought about this!

At the bottom is a tripod mount and the knob that lets you rewind the film, plus a metal cover of sorts. Turns out you can open it with a coin and attach the hand grip (apparently it helps keep the camera level – but I’ve never used it).

Street Scene in Camden. Even the most mundane can look super funky with the Horizon.


Horizon Flavours: Version Differences

The Horizon family has several flavours, each of them with minor differences.

First there was the Horizont model which only had two shutter speeds but could do double exposures I believe. I dont think they make them anymore.

Then came the Horizon 202 with more features and shutter speeds, based on the same design. This camera is marketed by Lomography as “Horizon Kompakt”.  The 202 is still in production and quite a bit cheaper than the S3 at the expense of a wider range of both shutter and aperture settings. It’s got a relatively edgy body compared to the beautifully rounded S3. Despite it being made of plastic, it’s heavier than the S3.

After the 202 came what was known as the 203 with several improvements to build quality and looks. It was later renamed S3 (that’s the camera we’re actually talking about here) and it comes in three different flavours:

  • Horizon S3 Pro
  • Horizon S3 U-500 (same as Lomography Horizon Perfekt)
  • Horizon S3 Sport

There’s also the Horizon 205 pc which takes 120 film, much like the Widelux 1500. It works just like the 202 from what I understand and costs about $3000. I don’t know if Zenit stock these cameras or if they’ll build them to order.

My Colleagues from MTV at 6am... Live TV starts early you know!


Horizon S3 Pro

The Horizon S3 Pro is the model with most features among the S3 series. It features the following aperture settings in one-stop increments:

  • f2.8
  • f4
  • f5.6
  • f8
  • f11
  • f16

The shutter speed is controlled by two settings, one for a “fast sweep” and one for a “slow sweep” (the switch for this sits next by the rewind crank). It’s a bit confusing to understand which setting is active – so let me explain it here:

If it’s on white, then technically “yellow” is showing – which means “yellow” is active and vice versa.The manual states that you’re not supposed to flick this  switch when the shutter is cocked (even though it works, I believe it’s not good for the camera).

The width of the slit during sweepage is controlled by a ring in front of the viewfinder, so you’ll end up with 8 different shutter speed settings:

  • 1 sec
  • 1/2th sec
  • 1/4th sec
  • 1/8th sec
  • 1/30th sec
  • 1/60th sec
  • 1/125th sec
  • 1/250th sec

Horizon S3 U-500

The Horizon S3 U-500 has also been marketed by Lomography as the Horizon Perfekt – looks exactly the same apart from the red Lomo Figure branding (and of course the extra £150 you’ll donate to them for re-packaging and daily newsletters).

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8 thoughts on “Horizon S3 Pro: my Russian Panoramic Camera from an Alternate Reality”

  1. Hi.

    I picked up a used Horizon Perfekt and a Widepan Pro II. And then I picked up a (vintage Hansa mechanical self timer). **Problem is** No matter how much I fool around with the Hansa the needle that’s supposed to trigger the shutter is way too short for the Perfekt. Advice anyone? And. When I look at all the mechanical self timers on eBay, it looks like the needle length is generally the same. Hmm. Basically that’s it. How are people using a self timer on a Horizon camera? Thanx.


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