I planned, or at least thought about, doing a (Photo)Book(s) of the Year post for today, but am feeling lazy and uninspired, so please enjoy this preview of some camera reviews, coming sometime in 2021, maybe…

I acquired these two cameras, the Panaview and the Minolta Freedom Vista (aka Riva Panorama, aka P’s) in a $40 grab bag of cameras from my dad sometime in the early fall of 2020. The grab bag also included the Wardflex and the Olympus Infinity Zoom 210 (proper reviews all forthcoming). None of these really excited me much and, honestly, I only bought it after reading Hamish Gill’s glowing review of the Minolta (and looking at the rather outrageous prices on the ‘bay, which range from $90-$150 at time of writing). I figured the others would be decent enough fodder for some simple reviews—lately the most traffic for older posts here is to reviews for random/unpopular cameras—and figured at the work I could maybe sell the Minolta for double what I paid for the group, so for $40 it was win.

Sadly, due to ongoing lack of enthusiasm (partly exacerbated by the never-ending Covid thing) and frustration with my attempts to update/upgrade my scanning system, I’ve been halfhearted in my shooting lately. And due to rearranging my “office” (playroom… not where I work from home, but where I play with toys) and similar lack of enthusiasm, I haven’t worked out a good “pretty place to photograph cameras” yet, so these will have to do:

Both the Panaview and the Minolta Freedom Vista are full-time cropped panorama 35mm cameras, at rather opposite ends of the possible spectrum. The Panaview is a fixed focus, all plastic, single aperture & shutter (probably ~f/11 and 1/100th, but who knows), and the Minolta Freedom Vista is autofocus, autoexposure, with built-in auto flash, auto winding and rewinding, and a tiny, rather sexy marvel of 1990s engineering.

I finished rolls in both of them on a short walk around a local park with my darling, adorable wife, during which I halfheartedly chased some pigeons to see how the cameras handled flying birds… Shame on me. They were just trying to eat all the yummy bugs there on the shore of that little pond, but oh well. I’m sure they got over it.

I’ll leave you to sort out which camera made which pictures (there are four from one and three from another), and apologies for the dust and whatnot on the scans… this was an early, failed, attempt at a remade scanning system featuring Hamish Gill’s excellent Pixl-latr, mounted on a box with a flash firing into the box as a backlight, and I didn’t bother clean the desk first or blow negatives off during or do spot removal in post. Oh well.

And if you were looking for a review of either camera, well, honestly, with this first roll, it’s horses for courses, as they say, and I’ll have more to say about both cameras in future reviews, God willing. The Panaview is 1/5th the price or less of the Minolta Freedom Vista, but also far less capable, especially in lower light. For panoramas on 35mm film, the Lomography Sprocket Rocket and Zenit Horizon Perfect (or Kompakt or one of the earlier, S3 or S3 U500 cameras) will give much larger negatives for about the same price, new, as the Minolta cameras, used, at albeit much larger size and without any sort of automation. The Minolta is pocketable in the skinniest of jeans, while the Panavision barely fits in the side pocket of my largest fat day khakis, but requires a rather fancy CR123a battery, while the Panavision is completely carefree. But honestly, really, there’s no “need” for either of these cameras, though I sorta had fun with them.

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