Seitz VR-Drive for panoramic photography using 35mm and also medium format digital cameras.

The Seitz brothers have been making panoramic cameras in Switzerland for several decades. Seitz RoundShot cameras are available for 35mm film, 120, 220 roll film, and 70mm roll film. Digital versions are now also available in a variety of formats.

Many years ago I visited the Seitz family factory in a small idyllic village in Switzerland. The quality of camera that they produce is precisely what you expect from a Swiss company.

We received this camera last year and initiated several tests with it. Unfortunately, with over 1000 pages in our website network, the page we wrote and posted last year was deleted by an unknowing web designer (who has subsequently been let go). We only noticed the page was missing this week, and now we are re-posting a replacement page.

Seitz VR-Drive panoramic photography

Current Seitz panorama cameras for film: 28-220 and Super 220 VR

If you are on the go, and don’t want to lug a huge system with you, the Seitz 28-220 is a portable option. It uses a 28mm lens; can have a lens mount for Nikon, Leica R or Contax. It uses medium format film so you get a good picture quality. We intend to try this out at archaeological sites, where the long hikes to get into the ruins makes it uncomfortable to carry heavier more complex systems.

The Super 220 VR is a more portable version of the original Super Roundshot that we have at FLAAR. Both use medium format roll film. The Super 220 VR can accept lenses from Leica R, Nikon, Contax and a wide range of medium format lenses from Zeiss (Hasselblad) and others.

Current Seitz digital panorama cameras: Super Digital II and VR-Drive

The Super Digital II is a tri-linear scanning back (same idea as the BetterLight but not has huge a file). Seitz cameras, however, can do something unique: then can do a linear scan: you set the Seitz on a track and it scans as it moves along the track. This is ideal for archaeological recording of long sculptures, murals, friezes, etc. Unfortunately, we don’t have the track to try it out (we have the Super RoundShot 220, the original masterpiece Seitz panoramic camera of the 1990’s).

II first saw the Seitz VR-drive at a PMA trade show several years ago with a Leaf or other medium format camera back. I find medium format an excellent size, and was intrigued since I was not aware of any medium format rotating panoramic photography solutions (BetterLight is large format, and does a continuous scan). The VR-drive is not intended to do continuous scans, but rather to shoot overlapping views that you have to stitch yourself in software.

The Livecam is quite special, and is best seen on the Seitz website, RoundShot.ch. As an aside, this is an excellent website. Arca-Swiss has no website at all. I would rate the Seitz family website as the best Swiss camera website I have seen so far.

The advantage of Seitz panoramic cameras is that they come in many distinct sizes and shapes. Seitz designs for a wide range of clients, including hobby photographers, enthusiasts, and pro-sumers as well as professionals. Many members of the panoramic photo associations have Seitz Roundshot cameras, either for 35mm, 120, 220, 70mm or the newer digital models.

We should also point out that some Seitz cameras can do rollout photographs, such as the Seitz SuperRoundshot camera that we have. This means you can put your objects on the turntable, rotate the object, and obtain a circumferential image of the outside of the object. This is important for archaeology.

Seitz VR-Drive panorama photography system

Eduardo Sacayon (left) is the photographer at FLAAR Mesoamerica (the office of FLAAR in Guatemala) who is in charge of most of the camera equipment evaluations. Here he is working with the Seitz VR-Drive and getting ready to compare it with a Manfrotto 303 Plus QTVR tripod head system. We are interested in doing panos, not as much in QuickTime VR. There are times when there is not space, time, or government permits available to do a large format panorama with our Better Light Super 6K-HS pano/WideView system.

In the photo at the left Eduardo has his hands on the connecting bolt that needs to be replaced (it does not tighten down onto the Nikon D100). We are trying to test a Canon EOS 5D to see whether the issue is with the camera or the VR system.

In the photo at the right Nicholas tries to figure out which cable is missing, and apparently got left in the Ohio office by mistake. With dozens of cameras and hundreds of accessories being evaluated, it is a challenge to keep track of cable releases. However in this case it is a special dedicated Seitz cable release.

We also need to check with the manufacturer to see if an attachment is available in 3/8ths European tripod attachment size, since we really want to test this Seitz equipment with a Hasselblad camera and medium format back (currently we are evaluating a Phase One P 30).

Contact is Werner Seitz and/or Peter Seitz, e-mail Seitz@roundshot.ch

In the US their capable distributor is Peter Lorber, customlab@aol.com, tel (561) 361-0031.

 

Reposted June 15, 2006.

 

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