Gaoersi 617 is a panoramic film camera able to shoot 6×17 images using medium format film. I have been experimenting with digital stitching for creating panoramas but there were times when stitching was not cutting it for me.
Using a panoramic film camera is a fantastic experience. Basically is just a huge box where you load the film in, attach the lens and a film back and you are ready to go. A strictly mechanical, full manual piece of equipment.
I settled for the Gaoersi 617 since the other well known options (Fuji and Linhof) were too expensive. The Gaoersi is made in China, so far I am very satisfied with the build quality of the camera and the stunning images it can produce. I have fitted a Nikkor 90mm f4.5 SW lens (a fast lens is necessary to be able to compose, and focus though the ground glass).
Shooting with a 617 panoramic camera leaves no room for mistakes. Everything is manual and certain procedures have to be followed otherwise you end up with a lost frame (only 4 frames can be shot per film, so wasting one is not acceptable!!)
The use of filters is done with a Lee filter holder, it’s a real joy to see live the effects of a polarizer or ND filter to the whole panoramic scene through the ground glass. Finally, the image quality you get using a good film is really stunning. The information contained in a 617 negative is translated to many many megapixels. And of course you get the chance to shoot with the best landscape film ever made, the Fuji Velvia.
Below are two images shot with the Gaoersi 617 and Fuji Velvia. I used a polarizer on both images and one second exposure at f22.
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