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Soviet KMZ Swing Panorama Camera Family

The Swing Family

Probably, one of the most lengthy history of panorama camera product line should belong to KMZ (Krasnogorsky Mechanichesky Zavod), the camera manufacturing company since Soviet era, not only producing the Leica L39 screw mount clones and derivatives (Zorki and Zenit). The earliest model can be traced back to 50's, when the first one in the series was invented for military usage. Then it spread across a period of longer than 50 years until now, when this article is written in 2006. In 2005, the current model Horizont S3 Pro was re-marketed by Lomography, as Horizon Perfekt, and at the same time a new model, Horizon Lomo Kompakt was released.
  • FT-1 (1951-1958)
  • FT-2 (1958-1965)
  • FT-3 (1951-1952)
  • Horizont (1966-1973)
  • Horizon 202 (1989-1992)
  • Horizon S3 Pro / Horizon Perfekt (2001-Present)
  • Horizon Lomo Kompakt (2005-Present)

One thing that has not been changed throughout the whole series is the adoption of swing lens mechanism for exposure on film, in order to achieve that fascinating view. Low linear distortion is ensured by fitting the film on a curved surface for film exposure.

Looking Closer

In earler FT models, all required 35mm/135 film to be preloaded into a special film cartridge before shooting, and it created much trouble to photographers.

Until Horizont was released, you can simply drop in a 35mm/135 film roll, load it and start shooting. It lens swing can cover a view of 120 degree. Its frame size (24 x 58 mm) of exposure on film is not as wide as the earlier FT-2's (24 x 110 mm), but the ease of film loading of Horizont is definitely an advantage.

It has a strongly built aluminum body, with clean lines and sharp corners, quite typical 60's neat design. All controls are placed and spaced in a very balance design.

The externally attached optical viewfinder is fixed to the camera body via the accessory shoe, and its view is bright and wide. There is a bubble level on the top of the viewfinder, and it is internally reflected through the tiny mirror, and allow photographer to see it clearly when composing, in order to ensure a perfect horizontal position. After removing the viewfinder, the film rewind knot is located.

To empower the swing lens mechanism, the manual winding spring motor is triggered by turning film advancing knot, and at the same time, shutter is cocked. All operatrions and movements are very well supported by the rigid aluminum camera body.

About The Camera

I have tested my Horizont, and there is light leak problem under outdoor sunlight. I suspect that it comes from the front part of the swing lens mechanism.

  • Industar 28mm / F2.8 lens, fixed focus at infinity
  • Aperture ranges from F2.8 - F/16, shutter speed supporting 1/30, 1/60, 1/125sec
  • frame size 24 x 58 mm
  • accessory shoe on the front of camera body, for attaching viewfinder

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