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Kodak Cirkut Camera. 360 degree views the old school way

Jim Galli

Member
The Cirkut camera, mis-spelled on purpose to create it's own brand name by Kodak, was developed by 1905. With changes and improvements it was sold until 1940. In all 7 different types and sizes were offered. The height of the roll film was the main variant. Film came in "daylight load" rolls, 5", 6", 8" 10" and 16". And the cameras were simply numbered according to the film intended. Thus a #10 Cirkut takes 10" tall spools of film and can produce a negative 10" X up to 84" or more. The #6 and #8 were what Kodak called Cirkut outfits and not only had the long roll panoramic capability, but also served as either a 5X7 camera for the #6 or a 6.5X8.5 camera for the #8.

The old adage that anyone can buy a violin but not everyone can then make music is true of these beasts. They weren't for everybody, even then when new and all the accessories were available. They were expensive, and professional photographers bought them and then used them to make the long black and white cityscapes and panorama's of large groups, selling the prints to make a living. Many of them were used hard over long periods.

The way they work is that they have a mechanism, a motor that runs by winding up a huge clockwork spring. When turned on the energy stored in the wound spring brings a clockwork system of gears spinning at a speed regulated by a governor, like an old phonograph that spins constantly at 78 RPM. The motor then does 2 things. It pulls film past an open slit about 3/16" wide while it also drives the camera around a large lazy susan type affair with a giant sun gear. So all this motion is synchronized so that the film moving past the slit is exactly the same speed as the camera is moving around the top of the tripod, thus, when the film is in the gate, it is effectively still. The image is painted onto the film through the slit as the camera revolves around the big sun gear.

The result was a "contact" print, because the negative is giant, the same size as the finished picture. The picture I'll show is 9.5" X 44" of film. About a quadrillion megapixels to you guys that only can think in terms of tiny square dots. 400 square inches of possible pixels. Don't try this on your Apple.

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The original scan was 9826X2030 because I only scanned at 200 ppi. But even that is reduced to 2904X600 to get something to drop in here. The scene is the Tonopah Historic Mining Park, with Tonopah down the hill in the distance, and this picture only encompassed about 210 degrees.
 

Jim Galli

Member
Here is a 1200X800 section of the original full size scan to see the detail.



Unsharpened. That black car keeps showing up!
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Doug Kerr

Active member
Hi, Jim,

Lovely work, and a very nice discussion of the Cirkut cameras. Thanks.

Best regards,

Doug
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
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I like this especially as it forces the viewer to commit some personal effort to enter and explore the picture.

So this is the natural “Human-Eyes” view straight ahead, (plus and additional glance left and right without moving one’s shoulders)!

Is this sloped or was the camera not exactly horizontal?

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
So looking at the telegraph poles, if the camera was indeed very slightly off horizontal,

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then stitching overlapping scans in Kolor software with Autopano Giga would allow any such distortions to be corrected perfectly in one minute!

I would print this 5 ft wide as it would then allow intimacy, examining this scene, 10” away, and endless detail!

Asher
 

Jim Galli

Member
Asher, the camera will not run unless it's perfectly level, so the leaning pole is . . . leaning. I have a print from the original file that is 51" (chosen because that was where 180 ppi which is printer friendly landed, no particular other reason) and it is very nice. It would get to 60 quite easily.

Back to leaning things, the headframe, the small one at the left, is leaning badly and feared to be lost. We have grant money to try to save it this summer. I did HABS / HAER quality images of it last week with 8X10 format for a reference because it will soon be down. Easy to take stuff down, not so easy to properly get it back in place.

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You'll notice everything else is parallel in that photograph, the tower is leaning . . . that much.
 

Doug Kerr

Active member
The Cirkut camera is covered in certain way in a specialized portion of my article, "The Proper Pivot Point for Panoramic Photography".

The main thrust of the article is to explain why it is the entrance pupil of the lens, not one of the two nodal points of the lens (or, as is often said, the nodal point), that is the proper location of the pivot axis for multi-image panoramic photography.

But the article also explains why the rear nodal point does play a critical role in swinging-lens panoramic cameras, and also in swinging panoramic cameras, such as the Cirkut. If fact, in a camera like the Cirkut, some compromises are required to deal with conflicting consideration involving the entrance pupil and the rear nodal point.

That article is available here:


Best regards,

Doug
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Is that structure steel? I could come up with a steel guy and repair it if you can get permission. For now, one could stabilize it with steel cables.



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If we had orthogonal pictures and some 8 ft lumbar as markers, we could draw up the structure, calculate the weight, loads, moments etc and devise a method to stabilize it. Was the left side of the tower ever vertical?

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Just for those abroad, the HABS/EBS pictures, Jim refers to, are for the US reference library of historic Anerican architecture and structures.

Asher
 

Jim Galli

Member
Thanks Doug. But consider the fact that on this camera, the 12" sun gear is used for 10 3/4", 18", and 24" focal point lenses but the motor and gear are constant at the point where the sun gear engages. The pupil gets farther and farther away from that point as the focal increases. So the Cirkut does not work like other rotating panoramic camers. The teeth on the drive gear that engages the sun gear change as the focal point moves out, which changes the rotating speed. 32 pitch teeth. 65 tooth gear for the short focal, 41 tooth for the 18" and 31 tooth for the 24". It's quite a marvelous design for it's time. Makes your head hurt. I have an old program that if I input a focal length, it can calculate how many teeth gear I would need. The diameter of the take up drum which is 1:1 with the drive gear is also part of the calcs.

Asher, it is 110 year old wood. I haven't been "in" on the planning. My seat of the pants would be to put steel hips in the concrete butresses that engage the wood up away from any rot with geometry that stands it upright. The wood was left over from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The giant concrete pillars were done about 25+ years ago to save it from falling over then. It is the main landmark as you drive through Tonopah.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Asher, it is 110 year old wood. I haven't been "in" on the planning. My seat of the pants would be to put steel hips in the concrete butresses that engage the wood up away from any rot with geometry that stands it upright. The wood was left over from the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The giant concrete pillars were done about 25+ years ago to save it from falling over then. It is the main landmark as you drive through Tonopah.
I would be happy to come up with my steel worker-rigger and a framer to fix it. We could do a pretty good structural engineering calculation in advance and my friend Peter Rupert would do the tipping and stress calculations and finite element analysis. We would indicate what lumber was bad and we would remove it from the 3D drawing before calculations.

Or, those in front of you may have already solved the problems! It appears that you might be suggesting that the ARE going to tare it down, repair it ?⚙ and then lift it back up again! ❤

That seems logical but anyway it’s done it's a major commitment!

I agree this is very important!

it would be fascinating to see your high quality documentation pictures. Did you include a reference scale in the pictures or you could measure a few sextiobsvonesch view.

I could do the drawings, just in case! If it fails, I can simply make a replacement out of steel! ?

Asher
 

Doug Kerr

Active member
Hi, Jim,

Thanks Doug. But consider the fact that on this camera, the 12" sun gear is used for 10 3/4", 18", and 24" focal point lenses but the motor and gear are constant at the point where the sun gear engages. The pupil gets farther and farther away from that point as the focal increases. So the Cirkut does not work like other rotating panoramic camers. The teeth on the drive gear that engages the sun gear change as the focal point moves out, which changes the rotating speed. 32 pitch teeth. 65 tooth gear for the short focal, 41 tooth for the 18" and 31 tooth for the 24". It's quite a marvelous design for it's time. Makes your head hurt.
Well, indeed. I looked a bit into a lot of that quite a few years ago, but that has all evaporated!

Thanks.

Best regards,

Doug
 

Jim Galli

Member
Asher, someone has done a proposal and obtained state grant monies. They plan to hire an engineering firm out of Reno or Salt Lake City. It's well out of my hands. The black coupe is the size reference. This isn't a hometown good ol boys undertaking. I wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. But I will volunteer to do architectural photographs for them on my part, and wish them well. I can see scaffolding and a very large crane involved. This is 3 or 4 stories tall. The beams are 12X12 rough cut and larger.
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Jim,

As you can see I am impossible in that I don’t seem to have normal limits that I would even consider tackling such a huge project! But remember I have been there and know how important this is to the identity and heritage of the community.

Still, one day, I would consider reproducing this as part of a sculpture, as I like the American history involved: wood that was first a Forrest and then part of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition and then many decades for the Tonapah silver mine!

Asher
 
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