I reviewed the Zenit Horizon Perfekt and find it to be, well...perfekt.
I love wide-angle cameras. I have the Sprocket Rocket, La Sardina, the Fisheye No. 2, the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, and various wide-angle and fish eye lenses for my Diana F+ and other cameras I have. I’ve had my eye on a Zenit Horizon for quite a while, so when I saw a Perfekt for sale at my local Lomography shop, I couldn’t pass it up! I was hoping it would live up to my expectations, and I’m glad to report that it has.
The Horizon Perfekt is one of two Horizon series cameras being manufactured by Zenit right now. The precursor to the Horizon was the Horizont. Zenit now produces a Horizon 202 under their own brand name, a Horizon Perfekt, and a Horizon Kompakt. All of these cameras are swing-lens panoramic cameras that work similarly to Widelux and Noblex cameras. The Perfekt has a great lens – a coated 28mm f/2.8 lens. It has a choice of apertures from f/2.8 to f/16 which is good because of the way you focus. I’ll talk about that later. The Perfekt has a choice of shutter speeds 1/2", 1/4", 1/8", 1/60", 1/125", 1/250", and 1/500" which is pretty good for this type of camera. Notice that there’s a gap between 1/8" and 1/60" where you would expect to see 1/15" and 1/30". This is because of the way you switch between the slow-swing mode and the fast-swing mode.
The Perfekt works entirely without batteries. The Perfekt includes cable release and tripod threads, a hand grip, three clip-in filters – UV; ND2; and Yellow-Green, and a bubble-eye level that you can see through the viewfinder while you’re composing your shots. A level is important with panoramic cameras to prevent curving of the horizon.
The hand grip helps keep your fingers out of shots, a common occurrence because of the extremely wide angle. The cable release and tripod threads are very useful because you cannot use a flash with this camera. If you want to shoot in low light, you have to use a large aperture and/or slow shutter speed. The fact that you can clip filters over the lens is interesting, but the filters provided are nearly useless except for the ND-2 filter. The strange thing about this is that the Kompakt comes with filters too, but not an ND-2 filter. This filter would actually be much more useful in the Kompakt because it has a fixed aperture of f/8 and only two shutter speeds. An ND-2 filter would give it more exposure options.
My Perfekt came with a leather case. One of the straps broke almost immediately, and the latch doesn’t want to stay closed. The rest of the case is very nice and fit’s the camera perfectly.
Shooting with the Perfekt is a joy. The camera feels great and all of the controls are easy to get to. The viewfinder is clear and accurate, and the built-in spirit level that you can see through the viewfinder is extremely convenient. The hand grip works very well, but I find myself forgoing it and just remembering to keep my fingers out of the picture. The camera is surprisingly quiet – not stealthy, not not distracting either. The fast lens means that I can usually use a fast enough shutter speed to hand-hold the camera in most situations.
The most difficult thing for me to adjust to was being aware of the depth of field for each aperture setting. There is no focusing mechanism, so for each aperture the camera will focus from a minimum distance out to infinity. When using the f/2.8 aperture, the minimum focusing distance is 5.5m – five point five METERS! That means that your subject must be at least 5.5 meters (about 18 ft.) away! When you use the smallest aperture, f/16, your subject can be as close as 1 meter (about 3 ft.) away. Here’s the chart:
Minimum Focusing Distance by Aperture:
f/2.8 – 5.5m (~18 ft.)
f/4 – 3.9m (~13 ft.)
f/5.6 – 2.9m (~10 ft.)
f/8 – 2m (~7 ft)
f/11 – 1.5m (~5 ft)
f/16 – 1m (~3 ft)
It would be nice if this chart were on the camera somewhere. Because of this limitation, I usually try to set the aperture to the smallest possible and then select the appropriate shutter speed.
Enough talk. Let’s see some pictures. These are the very first shots I took with the Perfekt. I used Fuji 200 film and a hand-held meter. I tried to use an aperture of f/16 whenever possible.
I just happened to have a Sprocket Rocket with me. Unfortunately, I had it loaded with Lomography Sunset Strip film, so it’s not possible to compare the quality of the images, but it is possible to compare the field of view. Each of the following pairs of images is the Perfekt first, then the Sprocket Rocket.
The Sprocket Rocket has a 30mm lens and a published angle of view of 108 degrees. The Horizon Perfekt has a 28mm lens and a published angle of view of 120 degrees. You can see the greater angles of view in these pictures.
I took the following shots using Kodak Gold 200 film. It was late in the day, and there wasn’t much light. I was on a street between tall buildings, so I was always in shade and the sun was approaching the horizon. I used a hand-held meter.
I shot the following pictures using Kodak Gold 200. Some of them are indoors and hand-held. The one with the fire was after sunset.
I took the following shot using BW400CN.
I took this shot at night using Fuji 200.
For the following shots I use Kodak PX125.
The Perfekt has become one of my favorite cameras. There are a few things that would be nice to have like a built-in meter, or auto-exposure system. The case could be more robust, but overall this has been one of the best, most satisfying camera purchases I’ve ever made.
The Horizon Perfekt shoots images the length of two standard frames. With full aperture and shutter settings, this premium panoramic camera gives you total control over your shots. Prepare to be blown away by the amazing Horizon Perfekt, available “here”: http://shop.lomography.com/horizon-perfekt?utm_source=www&utm_medium=magazine&utm_campaign=horizon-perfekt_footer.