This is a unique camera made, not by a recognised camera manufacturer, but by an engineer named Leslie Thomson, who specialised in building his own stereo and panoramic cameras. The CieLisT logo on the camera is a reference to the Stereo Realist, an American stereo camera from the 1940s, and also a way of incorporating the maker’s own initials into the name. (He wrote articles and books in the 1940s and 1950s under the name C. Leslie Thomson.)
The starting point was a Wray Stereo Graphic camera. To obtain a panoramic image format, the solid spacer between the film gates was removed. With each image measuring 24x24mm and the space between them being 47mm, that adds up to a total image size across the film plane of 24x95mm. A Schneider-Kreuznach Angulon 90mm f/6.8 lens in a Synchro-Compur shutter is fitted to a box-like structure grafted onto the front of the body in place of the original twin lenses. A sprung spindle transfers operation of the shutter release on the lens to a small lever at the back of the body. A Zeiss Ikon accessory viewfinder designed to cover 30mm lenses on 35mm film gives the correct field of view laterally, but is masked at the top and bottom to provide the panoramic format.
The film frame counter has been replaced with a new rotating disc counting 1-8. As the film is wound after the first exposure, the disc must rotate twice before coming to rest on ‘2’… and so on through eight exposures. The camera accepts standard 35mm cassettes and still takes superb 24x95m panoramic pictures, with none of the distortion experienced when a similar format is shot with an older old swing-lens type of camera.
1960s: The CieLisT panoramic camera
The panoramic camera converted from a Wray stereo camera.
Top view, showing how the shutter release is transferred from the rim of the lens to a lever at the back of the body.
The Essex marshes at Tollesbury through the lens of the panoramic camera.