Lately, I’ve been cleaning old cameras, re-lubing sluggish Russian film winders, and generally spraying lithium grease and isopropyl alcohol around in a humble attempt to improve the workings of a few lenses and cameras here on my shelves. One thing I’ve wanted to try for a while is lens flipping. The Ansco Pix Panorama 35mm film camera lends itself rather well to this task.
Lens flipping means removing the front lens of a camera or lens, turning it over so as to reverse it, and putting the whole thing back together again! “Why do this?”, you might well ask. Well, a reversed lens can produce some interesting blurry and dreamy images, so I hear…
So, in the spirit of experimentation, I present a pictorial guide to disassembling the Ansco Pix Panorama and flipping the lens.
The Pix Panorama was a cheap 35mm film camera, possibly manufactured in the late 1980s or early 1990s in China. The original Ansco company has a long and illustrious history in camera production, but by the time the Pix was produced, Ansco was just another brand name in the marketing books of a larger company.
In order to get at the insides of the camera, you’ll need to remove the four side screws holding the front plastic shell. Jeweller’s screwdrivers are ideal for doing this, and the screws shouldn’t be too hard to remove.
I have seen similar panoramic cameras given away with Reader’s Digest subscriptions. The problem with some of these versions is that they don’t feature the side screws, so getting at the lens will likely be an exercise in trying to prise apart a plastic clamshell without cracking it !
The next thing to do is to carefully remove the plastic slider that serves to protect the lens. It’s not attached to anything, so can simply be laid to one side. I made a mental note of it’s position so that I could put it back in the same spot before screwing the front shell back on.
Now for the tricky part. To get at the plastic lens, you’ll need to twist and remove the ring holding it in place. The ring is held in place by two plastic tabs and it just takes a little effort to move them and twist off the ring. I suggest a few patient fingers and a jeweller’s screwdriver for moving the tabs.
And there you have it !! Out comes the little lens ! Now that it’s finally free, you can give it a little clean up. Once you’ve done that, just reverse it and plonk it back into place so that the convex side is now facing into the camera body.
It’s now just a matter of assembling the camera in reverse order. Make sure you put the blue shutter button back in place before closing it up!
I currently have my Ansco loaded with expired 400 ISO colour negative film, so I’ll be eager to see the results of this experiment !
Because the Pix is not a true panoramic camera, it’s possible to remove the plastic mask from inside the film body to allow full use of the 35mm film frame. I decided to leave mine in for something different, but I might remove it later.