It’s a fake panoramic camera that lets you be versatile as you want to be.
image from here
This cam came out in the 1990s as part of the “panoramic” craze that many of you may remember. Now Vivitar has a reputation for making the chic affordable and the pn2011 is the perfect example. There was a type of film and camera available in the 90s that allowed the photographer to take pictures in 3 separate format sizes on one camera with one film. Vivitar took this idea and made a camera that uses regular 35mm film and allows the photographer to take pictures in either a panoramic or normal setting. The great thing is that unlike other cheap panoramic cameras at the time the pn2011 allowed you to switch between panoramic and regular at any time during the photo shoot process.
Now let me just point out right here that the panoramic pictures I refer to are not really panoramic in the style of the swing lens horizon. Now that I have acknowledged this flaw I would like to point out that there are a lot of really cool things that you can do with a camera that cuts off the top and bottom 1/6th of a picture to make it appear panoramic. You can get the long prints and frame them which is nice, although I just generally get the scans and post them on my lomohome. Versatility is the name of my game and the pn2011 hooks me up right. The cheap cost, relative availability, and lightweight of the thing allows cross-continent doubling a cinch. I take a roll in the pn2011 with it set on the regular setting, then I rewind it and send it to a lomographer somewhere else on the globe, then they change the setting to panoramic (which involved a mere clickity click on the back of the camera, and in a lickity split two small black plastic doohickies come down and block off light from the frame for the pano effect) and finish the roll. I let them keep the camera too… I mean it was one dollar US. The doubles are pretty rare because of the double exposed photo strip across the middle of the image. You can even do this with yourself for fun and I like to take a sunny roll then wait for a snowy day and cross like that. But I said versatility and I mean it for sure because you can actually do a pretty easy mod for endless exposures on the same frame and long exposures as well. Basically you just cut a hole in the front of the camera near the viewfinder and expose the shutter mechanism. Once this junk is exposed you can use a bent paperclip to reset the shutter without advancing the film as well as hold down the shutter lever with said paperclip for long exposures. Plus between each exposure you can reset the cam to either normal or pano view for more madness. Also this camera really cooks with slide film and cross process processes.
The lens is a cheap piece of plastic but when you feed intense sunlight, bright colors, and dramatic shadows through the thing you are really making magic. Oh and a great fun treat is to turn your panoramic shots into supersampler movies on the LSI, seems so cool, try it. Couple words of warning though—-1. this camera is made for the bright sunshine and looses it’s luster pretty quick in an overcast situation. 2. Indoor use is limited without the long exposure mod because no flash is available (although I did use an old time movie camera light once and the product was pretty awesome although that light caught on fire and I had to throw it out obviously) 3. The people at your lab my try to give you scans without the black bars and the sides of your shots, the computer machines will try and crop the picture for some reason so you need to either scan your own, make sure you use at least one exposure in the regular setting per pic, or treat your lab people right and have them hook you up. I myself do the latter. So basically I don’t have anything else to say, the pictures do the talking I guess, make sure you look around junk stores and used crap places for these cams, they are pretty much everywhere, at least in the USA. Oh and if you have done a pn2011 double with me (you know who you are!) thanks for creating a richer, fuller, more exciting world of outsider art with me.