the swinger

10.12.2013

Shooting a russian made camera is an exercise in patients, and my Horizon S3 pro is no exception. However, once you work through the issues you are rewarded with a fun camera that always starts up a conversation.

The first hurdles you need to jump through relate to recording medium, film. Yes, FILM, 35mm to be more precise. This baby accepts that long lost, light sensitive, gelatin based roll of magic. Obtaining this cassette of witchcraft is still quite easy, albeit a little more expensive now. Online, one can find film at B&H, Amazon, or at your local photography store. I prefer to shoot print film with the Horizon because the wide latitude of the film pairs nicely with the extremely wide angle of view this camera produces, specifically Kodak Ektar 100 and 400. Once you get your paws on the film, you get to figure out how to load the mouse trap. Tips: get yourself a long lead of film from the cassette (about 5 inches); follow the diagram, if the film can go under something, it probably needs to; keep with you something long and thin like a knife or a toothpick for retrieving the film leader to attach it the the take-up spool, I keep a pocket knife on me for this purpose.

Now that you are locked and loaded, familiarize yourself with the simple controls. You have shutter speed, aperture, the shutter release, the frame advance and that's it! Set your shutter speed first, advance your frame, and then you will have access to the aperture settings. Be sure to brush up on your Basic Daylight Exposure skills, because there is no meter here.

There are some quirky things with this camera. First, in bright sunlight the lens sometimes leaks light into the camera. The best fix for this is to keep the camera inside a bag until you want to use it. I find the bag which came with the camera good enough... It's thin, small, and simple; problem solved. The second quirk is with the swing lens. In the early days of my shooting I always was able to get my fingers in the frame, annoyingly. The best solution, other than using the stupid hand grip, is to keep a tripod quick-release in the tripod socket. Hold onto this when handholding and you won't find any stray fingers photobombing your frame. Naturally, tripod shooting is the recommended mode of operation, however inconvenient and no fun.

The Horizon S3 is a landscape camera and focuses at infinity, making anything closer than about ten feet out of focus. But most importantly, don't let these limitations hamper you, use them to your advantage! However, my best tip is: learn to curse in Russian, take a shot of vodka, and have fun.



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