If the previous installment on the Horizon Kompakt precursor has left you wondering about the origins of Soviet panoramic cameras, this installment on the curious KMZ FT-2 can feed your curiosity.
Before the Lomography Horizon cameras, there was the Horizon S3 Pro, from which the Perfekt was based; and even before that, there was the Horizon 202, the successor of the older Horizont from which the Kompakt was based. But, according to camera experts, the Soviets developed panoramic cameras from as far back as the late 1950s, the most popular from the period being the KMZ FT-2. Here’s a quick timeline:
1958 – 1965: KMZ FT-2
1967 – 1973: Horizont
1991 – 2003: Horizon 202
2003: Horizon S3 Pro
2005: Horizon Perfekt, Horizon Kompakt
Manufactured by the Krasnogorsky Mechanichesky Zavod (KMZ) between 1958 and 1965, the FT in its name stands for “Fotoapparat Tokareva” which means “Tokarev’s camera.” Interestingly, camera historians say that “Tokarev” actually refers to the Russian weapon designer Fedor Vasilievich Tokarev, who was a personal friend of Joseph Stalin.
The compact and curious-looking panoramic camera takes 12 photos measuring 24 × 110 mm on a roll of 36 exposure film. However, the film needs to be loaded into a special light-proof magazine provided for use with the camera. Its 50mm lens swings to 120° from right to left, while its viewfinder is a simple metal frame that can be folded over the camera’s back when not in use. On the top of the camera, next to the viewfinder, is an orange “bull’s eye” spirit level.
To set the shutter speed, the two brake levers on the top plate of the camera must be positioned. A metal knob advances the film independently from the shutter.
Considered as a niche camera, only 16,662 units were made. The FT-2 was also sold under the names “Panorama,” “Spaceview”, and “Spiratone.”
- Lens: 50 mm f/5 Industar-50, fixed aperture
- Shutter speeds: 1/100, 1/200, 1/400s
- Film: 35 mm
- Dimensions: 120 mm x 85 mm x 48 mm
- Weight: 0.730 kg
Visit FT-2 on Camera Wiki, FT-2 on olafmatthes.de, FT-2 User Manual (English) on olafmatthes.de, and KMZ FT-2 on The Living Image Vintage Camera Museaum to find out more about this vintage Soviet panoramic camera.