I have to admit that I really wanted a Horizon Perfekt but my budget could not even pay for a Kompakt. When an offer dropped from heaven for a second-hand but barely-used Kompakt package complete with case and a bonus of three rolls of slides at a steal price, economy ruled over desire for a high-end panoramic perfection.
I could still remember opening the big box and sensing the smell of the well-kept brown leather case as a prelude to a wonderful Lomo adventure with my Russian panoramic cam. I knew from the very first roll I took that I made the right choice. And Kompakt has been keeping my company in many phototrips with it hanging on my neck thanks to my ingenious tape-measure-turned-camera-strap.
If you’re one among Horizon fans like me, you must be wowed already by its 28mm multicoated lens that swing to full 120 degrees. Too wide that it may capture your fingers gripping the camera in front so be careful. Mind you, I made the same mistake a few times immortalizing my fingers in need of a nail cutter.
With fixed focus and aperture, the Kompakt is a no frills panoramic point-and-shoot that does not require a steep learning curve. A kindergartner can easily learn to use it hoping that he or she can endure carrying its considerable weight and can hold it firmly especially when shooting at low speed. Well, the loading of film may be quite tricky but can come close to nature after some practice. As each shot consumes two frames – ie., a regular 36 can yield around 18 to 20 shots – loading the film properly will help prevent wasting precious shots. Don’t worry, there’s a simple diagram when you open the back of the camera which you can simply follow to ensure the film rest perfectly flat and tightly held between the film spool and advance spool. You can cross out battery issues as you will never encounter any battery problem with this sweet camera as no battery is needed at all.
In my opinion, the Kompakt comes with only two downside – namely, its weight and volume. It is not your typical pocket-sized point-and-shoot that you can easily bring to your wanderings (not unless your pocket is triple in size). It gets worse – I mean bulkier – when inside the case. As I usually bring along a few cameras in long trips , my beloved Kompakt gets low priority over his smaller lomocam siblings. When left strapped and hanging on your neck for hours like in long Lomowalks, you will definitely feel the brunt of its weight (not the case if you’re a digital SLR aficionado who’s been so used sporting not one but two or more of your expensive cameras like light-weight leis for public display – pun intended).
But if you can forgive the Kompakt for the above mentioned weak features, let me walk you through some of the fascinating discoveries I made with it.
Straight isn’t too straight. Straight lines curve naturally when shot with the Horizon since the shutter window is curved 120 degrees. Go on shoot images with straight lines and discover the optical distortion created in the resulting panoramic images.
No worry about interiors. The Kompakt does not come with a flash hotshoe but cast your fears of underexposed images away. As long as there is sufficient light and film with appropriate ASA, you can swing that lens indoor or outdoor, 24/7, day or night. Indoor shots will still come out great when shot with the slow shutter speed or night setting.
Fabulous for shooting architectures. Able to capture more elements in a frame, this ultra-wide camera is great for shooting architectural wonders and monuments.
Flirting with colors. The Kompakt comes with two filters than you can affix in front of the lens – the green and UV. (The Perfekt comes with extra violet filter.) This process may require a few practice to be at ease. I love the green filter as it gives vibrant colors to ordinary color negatives and slides.
No crowd is too many. Group photo-ops is no problem as each Kompakt shot is wide enough to give room for all the members of the cast. Just beware of photo bombers who may intentionally ruin your crowd masterpiece.
Exciting color shifts and saturation with Centuria chrome and other slides. It’s very cool with slides. Worth mentioning here is that I’m no big fan of Centuria chrome slides but love how they turn bright yellow with a green-filtered Kompakt.
Redscale friendly. As the lens swing from left to right it takes in more light than the usual analogue cam. For sunny outdoor shots, redscaled images turn out so well.
Lovely outdoor portraiture. Love to shoot portraits of my friends. The Kompakt gives me more room to frame my subjects at different angles.
Effortless multiples. The advance and shutter are uncoupled which allows shooting multiples to be dead-easy. By simply swinging back the lens to the left, you will be just a click away from creating another layer to your previous capture.
Limitless possibilities. Experiment with the Kompakt and you will discover a whole lot more of creative possibilities.
Hope I did not overwhelm you with all these discoveries I made with my Kompakt. Follow your heart and go get your panoramic dream machine.