Lifetouch panorama camera

Started Mar 5, 2007 | Discussions
John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Lifetouch panorama camera

When I dropped my children off at school this morning, I saw a Lifetouch photographer setting up to do a panorama of the entire 6th grade. We received fliers saying the finished photo will be something like 20 inches wide, so I was thinking a 1dsmk2 would suffice nicely for resolution.

I hung around for a few minutes, hoping to get a glimpse of the camera. It turned out to be an 8x10 view camera. Although I didn't stay long enough to see, I'm guessing he used a 2 1/4" roll film back rather than burning up sheets of 8x10 film.

I'm wondering if you would agree that this seems like extreme overkill in this day and age of the high-resolution SLR? Maybe the customer's perception of the equipment comes into play (i.e. if the photographer had used the same SLR that Uncle Bob has, it would look unprofessional)? Or do you think the format was warranted for quality reasons?

In the recent past I've seen Lifetouch use 2 1/4" long rolls for the individual portraits, and I have to say that although they're starting with a high-quality setup, somehow the quality doesn't make it through to the final photos.

I'm interested in hearing other opinions.

Thanks,

john

edleg Contributing Member • Posts: 849
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

When I worked for LT they used a Fuji panorama camera using 120 or 220 film... just a few exposures per roll.

I did not know LT even had any 8x10 cameras! They did buy or merge with Jostens last year, maybe that is where the camera came from...

SpaceyHOU Regular Member • Posts: 217
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

Having been the subject of multiple LT jobs...

I think in my area the different LT groups choose their own equipment. I've seen guys using tethered S2's, MicroZ... The local Prestige (LT subsidiary) uses Nikon D100's. The one year they did our Panos, it was a Canon D60, 17-40/4 on a Bogen Pano head setup...

Our standard guy does:

8x10 does four exposures, and then two with a Novoflex pano cam (one images = 3 35mm frames)

-- hide signature --

==
'My eminence was merely imminent.'

OP John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Maybe I was mistaken...

Thanks for the responses. I didn't get very close, but what I saw was the size & shape of an 8x10 view camera. He had a large focusing cloth as well. I'm not familiar with the cameras you mentioned, but I guess it's conceivable that the panorama cameras are pretty large & boxy as well.

At any rate, it sounds like the camera decision is made not on quality but on what the local photographer has on-hand Although several times now I've seen cameras that use 2 1/4" film, so maybe they're set up to deal with that most efficiently.

-john

OP John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
It was an 8x10 afterall

My daughter told me he shot 2 sheets of 8x10 film-- no roll film!

-john

Jon Laye Senior Member • Posts: 2,485
Re: It was an 8x10 afterall

I once shot a class group of 425 kids. We used an 8x10 view camera with a special film back that took 2 4x10 shots per sheet. Once film holder, 2 8x10 sheets, 4 shots.

A Fuji 617 would have been better, easier to use, and these days? I would not consider film

Jon

OP John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Re: It was an 8x10 afterall

Thanks for your comments, Jon. I agree that there's no reason to use film on something like this, but I guess a large company takes a long time to change.

I've never heard of the special holder you mentioned-- that's interesting.

=john

KAllen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,890
Re: It was an 8x10 afterall

I would of thought there is every reason to use film on very large group shots. As a user of a 1DsmkII, I would much rather have a 617 of the group than a 50 meg file and I wouldn't let the 17-40mm anywhere near a large group. It distorts like the back of a spoon.

I'm just processing as I type a job shot on 6x7 Provia and the 1DsmkII, it pains me to see how much better the film is. As the client wants to go to 650mm wide the film does it a lot nicer.

Kevin.

 KAllen's gear list:KAllen's gear list
Sony RX1R II Canon EOS-1D X Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Pentax K-1 Canon EF 35mm F1.4L USM +5 more
Clark Hampton
Clark Hampton Senior Member • Posts: 2,856
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

seems it would have been easier to use a panoramic camera. I remember in highschool where one kid would be in the picture twice. As the camera scanned across the kid would riun from one end to the other so that he was in twice. very funny,
--

 Clark Hampton's gear list:Clark Hampton's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon D200 Nikon D100 Nikon AF Nikkor 135mm f/2D DC Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm F3.5-4.5G ED VR +4 more
OP John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Re: It was an 8x10 afterall

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your comment. As the enlargement gets bigger, film will definitely make a difference. But since these panoramas will be only 20 inches wide, I've seen the 1dsmk2 handle this size nicely. I agree that 650mm is starting to push it, though.

-john

OP John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

Clark,

Yes, that's the kind of camera they used for my high school panorama as well. We all received a huge black & white print-- a real photo, not a printed piece.

-john

mike in london
mike in london Senior Member • Posts: 1,550
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

I do whole schools groups, and a 10x8 camera is what we use, theres no comparison in quality compared to 1DS MkII, we've tested them side by side and 8x10 film still wins hands down, not just on resolution but generally produces a more pleasing result. Its not about trying to be better than anyone else, its about using the best tools for the job!

Mike

 mike in london's gear list:mike in london's gear list
Nikon D300S Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED +1 more
mmsphoto New Member • Posts: 15
Re: It was an 8x10 afterall

it's not so much the enlargement size - it's that almost any wide angle lens has serious distortion

on full frame sensors - i have the idsmk11 - ...the people will get more and more distorted toward both ends of the picture until ...well they might as well not have combed their hair - their is software out for this - but the quality from the 8x10 is easily better -

KAllen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,890
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

Oddly enough I've just done a job shooting mainly 6x7 Provia and 1DsmkII. The client wanted film, I cursed loading the camera after 10 shots, I cursed when having to go get it processed, I cursed cutting it up and mounting it, I cursed it when doing a couple of scans just to see what it was like. I realised why I now shoot 98% digital. Then I looked at the scans, now I'm wondering why I spend all this money shooting digital. A 100meg scan from a 6x7 looks a lot nicer than a up-sized 100meg 1DsmkII file.
Like wise a 617 would knock the spots off a 1DsmkII.

Anyone out there that shoots for fun and wants to know what shooting with top end gear is like and would like to sample the quality. Go buy something like a Mamiya 7 and a film scanner, or even a 5x4, it's so cheap compared to Phaseone.

The quality difference between it and run of the mill digital is huge. As for grain, I've just made 120 meg files and printed a section on an Epson 2100, there isn't any.

Kevin.

 KAllen's gear list:KAllen's gear list
Sony RX1R II Canon EOS-1D X Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Pentax K-1 Canon EF 35mm F1.4L USM +5 more
henryp
henryp Veteran Member • Posts: 7,348
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

I worked for Lifetouch for several years, although I left there when I came here more than a decade ago, so things have almost certainly changed.

Back then, HQ would tell the individual territory manager what they wanted used, particularly if the image was being processed by the company-owned labs, but other than their proprietary Micro-Z portrait camera, the actual choice of equipment was up to the territory manager. Budgets were often tight. For sports shooting and the like I used my own personal equipment, not company-provided stuff. The company didn't GIVE equipment to the territories. The territory had to have their own stuff.

There were widespread variations, and in general territories shooting primarily underclass (K-11 grades) had less sophisticated equipment and photographers than those shooting HS seniors (which usually operated under the "Prestige Portraits" name).

-
Henry Posner
B&H Photo-Video, Inc.

 henryp's gear list:henryp's gear list
Nikon D5000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR +1 more
OP John Adler Senior Member • Posts: 1,739
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

Thanks for all the responses. Many good points were raised.

I'm still of the opinion that, if you can get around the wide-angle distortion problem by backing up, that the 1ds2 will produce a more-than-satisfactory result UP TO A CERTAIN SIZE.

To be totally fair and honest though, I might have an axe to grind because for over 20 years I hauled around large-format equipment (mainly doing table-top product work on location) and when I got my 1dsmk2 I declared it to be my new camera of choice, and I didn't want to hear anything that would cause me to consider using large format again

-john

KAllen Veteran Member • Posts: 3,890
Re: Lifetouch panorama camera

I know just what you mean. It's easy just to see the film faults, you don't want to see that the more difficult way might still be better. I produce some great images with a 1DsmkII, some I would not of had with film, but film can still deliver the goods, I think it handles the transition from bright highlight to recorded tone much better. I will still do most on the Canon, I'm even thinking of Phaseone's or Hass HD3.

A freind of mine just returned from a photographic trip, he took a 5D and MF film, he says the film images look much nicer than the digital.

Kevin.

 KAllen's gear list:KAllen's gear list
Sony RX1R II Canon EOS-1D X Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III Pentax K-1 Canon EF 35mm F1.4L USM +5 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads