Going with the swing

My partiality to Russian-made, swing lens panoramic cameras is no secret. I’ve owned and used three Horizon cameras in the last ten months: the Kompakt, 202 and S3 Pro. I eventually made a decision to reduce my collection to just one, mainly because two of them were gathering dust as I evolved a workflow that combined the flexibility of the S3 Pro with the spontaneity of the Kompakt.

Horizon S3 Pro

I was therefore comfortably set up with the S3 Pro, a pocketful of Ilford HP5+ (Tri-X on the rare occasions when it was affordable) and my eye was becoming ever more attuned to the panoramic 24 x 58mm format and the 120° field of view. And then along came … not Johnny but Jon!

Once more down the rabbit hole …

That short exchange on social media contains two seeds which bring us to where we are today. The offer of the loan of a KMZ FT-2 and the lead which ended in the subsequent purchase of my own copy of this quirky, odd-looking camera. Rather than re-hash what’s already been written into my own words here’s what the Lomography website has to say about the KMZ FT-2:

Manufactured by the Krasnogorsky Mechanichesky Zavod (KMZ) between 1958 and 1965, the FT in its name stands for “Fotoapparat Tokareva” which means “Tokarev’s camera.” Interestingly, camera historians say that “Tokarev” actually refers to the Russian weapon designer Fedor Vasilievich Tokarev, who was a personal friend of Joseph Stalin.

Lomography.com

Odd-looking certainly, but this is a compact and surprisingly hefty little camera. In theory it should give you 12 negatives measuring 24 x 110mm on a roll of 36 exposure film. However, in my, admittedly limited experience thus far, I’ve only reached the dizzy heights of 11 frames on one occasion and never 12! The film also needs to be loaded into special light-proof cassettes which are notoriously difficult to get hold of. The camera I borrowed had both but (spoiler alert) the copy I bought had just the one.

Unlike the S3 which has a 28mm lens the FT-2 sports a 50mm lens which swings through 120° from right to left. The viewfinder is a simple metal frame that can be folded over the camera’s back when not in use. On top of the camera, amongst an initially bewildering array of knobs and dials, is a very basic, round spirit level. Let’s take a look.

Confused? It’s easier than it appears at first glance.

My regular reader has already seen some images from both the borrowed FT-2 and my own copy. In my next FT-2 post I will cover the challenges of loading this camera, the added complications of only having one cassette instead of two and my initial thoughts on how the camera handles.

The FT-2 packs a lot of real estate into every frame

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