The Gaoersi 617 is a panoramic camera which produces 6×17 panoramic images. I haven’t used this camera for a while, and on my last trip I decided to shoot a roll of the (now discontinued) Kodak Portra 160VC film, which is my favorite color negative emulsion.
As it turned out, I didn’t have much free time so my shots were done mid-day, where the light was not good for photos. Despite that, the huge dynamic range of the 160VC proved to be adequate for two decent images (I ruined one of the four frames by forgetting to take out the dark slide, and one more frame was not developed well, which was unfortunate since it was my best image from the roll).
This is not an easy camera to handle, since everything is manual. It’s a very slow process, where everything must be done right, or you don’t get the image. My most common mistake is to forget the dark slide on the camera, despite the fact of having a sticker own the film holder to remind me. If I decide to use the ground glass instead of the external viewfinder, then it’s an even more slow process which demands patience.
Even when scanning, 6×17 can be a real burden, since my Coolscan 9000 requires the frame to be scanned twice, and then do a stitch. Most of the times, the two parts have a difference in exposure and color even when I apply the same settings. That requires serious time and effort to make the final stitch. I could use my Epson V500 scanner which can scan a 6×17 frame on one pass, but there’s a very large difference in image quality.
I am not happy with these images, and next time I will stick to my well known recipe for good photos, which is shoot near dawn or dusk, and use a slide film, preferably Fuji Velvia 50. Slide film is much easier to scan at two passes, since you don’t get the color shift difference that the color negative has.
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