We looked around eBay Kleinanzeigen and found someone with a golden one, and we had to get it. We paid less than €10 for the camera, and the first thing we did once we got home was to clean the text in the front of the camera and remove any sign of what the camera used to be. Now we have a custom Vivitar Panorama, and we love how weird it takes pictures.
But before we talk about the pictures we took with it, let us talk a bit about the camera itself.
The Vivitar IC 101 Panorama camera became popular in the 90s as a budget-friendly alternative to traditional panoramic cameras. This faux panoramic camera offers an in-camera effect by using a mask that covers part of the film, resulting in reduced image resolution.
Designed as a cost-saving option, the IC 101 is made mainly of plastic, except for the spring in the shutter-winder mechanism. The lens offered in the camera is a 28mm f/8 plastic lens with a fixed 1/125s shutter speed. The camera also features a lens cover slider for added protection which feels like a luxury for such a cheap-looking camera.
Despite its budget-friendly design, the Vivitar Panorama feels comfortable in hand and is incredibly lightweight, making it easy to carry in your pockets. This is what we end up doing while we walk around Berlin.
Like almost every plastic 35mm panoramic camera from the 1990s, the Vivitar IC 101 Panorama camera doesn’t provide an actual panoramic image by exposing a wider image than the standard frame. Instead, the film is masked to a smaller size, resulting in a cropped panorama image with two black bars around the image. When getting your photos processed, you can expect the lab to enlarge this cropped image into wider-than-standard prints, giving you the illusion of a panoramic image.
Or you can do like we do and get the film back from the lab, scan it, and see if it looks better with or without the black bars.
You can’t forget that these cameras do not provide the same quality as traditional panoramic cameras, as they are limited by their fixed lens, cheap build, and basic design. However, they offer a fun and affordable option for those who want to experiment with panoramic photography. This is why we decided to buy one and have some fun with it.
The IC 101 is available in a golden tint or black, and its curvy design makes it a stylish option for beginner photographers. However, its optics, lack of variable shutter, and aperture make it a limited shooter.
The pictures you can see here are from our first time using the Vivitar Panorama in the summer of 2022. We used a cheap black and white AGFA 100 film we got at a drugstore, and the pictures look as grainy and lo-fi as they can. But that is precisely what we had in mind once we got the camera.
The next step is to use it with some color film and see how it handles landscapes. We hope it brings as much grain as it did in black and white.
If you want a Vivitar Panorama, look at eBay or any flea market you might go through. Don’t forget that this is a cheap camera and has not necessarily been treated well before, so it might need some cleaning up. And some degree of luck to make it work more than once!
If you want a better option to start experimenting with analog photography, we wrote a review about our Lomography LC-A+, and you should check it out.
Vivitar IC 101 Panorama: A junk camera perfect for lo-fi panoramas
Check out some of our favorite Vivitar Panorama pictures on Flickr.
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