Panoramic Photographs

A Brief History of Panoramic Photography

Panoramic view of Redlands, California
descriptive record icon enlarge image icon   Redlands, California. c1908
California Panorama Company
gelatin silver print; 8 x 45 in.
PAN US GEOG - California no. 224

In the late nineteenth century, cameras were manufactured specifically for producing panoramas. These cameras were either swing-lens cameras, where the lens rotated while the film remained stationary, or 360-degree rotation cameras, where both the camera and the film rotated.

Advertisement for the Al-Vista camera    Advertisement for the Al-Vista camera
enlarge image icon  enlarge image icon  Reprinted from More Photographic Advertising From A to Z. Compiled by George Gilbert, 1972, Yesterday's Cameras.

Advertisement for the Al-Vista camera
enlarge image icon  Reprinted from Camera Craft, San Francisco, 1900.

The first mass-produced American panoramic camera, the Al-Vista, was introduced in 1898.

The following year Eastman Kodak introduced the #4 Kodak Panoram panoramic camera that proved popular with amateur photographers. In 1911 Sears, Roebuck & Co. sold the Conley Panoramic Camera through their catalog.

Mass-produced panoramic cameras worked on the swing-lens principle, used roll film, and did not need a tripod.

Mass-produced panoramic cameras made small panoramas, measuring no more than twelve inches long with a field of view of almost 180-degrees. Developing the film was easy, and the resulting negatives could be contact-printed or used for enlargements.