Panorama Camera

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

View along the rail line, Fergus, Ontario, ca. 1886–1887. Source: Library and Archives Canada/e010865831

In 1888, Canadian photographer John R. Connon patented a panoramic camera—perhaps Canada’s most significant contribution to the field of photography. Although there were European patents for panoramic cameras from as early as 1843, most photographers continued to splice together multiple exposures to capture wide landscapes on film. Connon’s camera was mounted on a rotating platform and could capture images as wide as 360 degrees in a single exposure. Uniquely, Connon’s patent specified the use of paper film. Images were captured on waxed paper negatives, a flexible film that was spooled through the camera and synchronized to the rotation of the tripod. While many early photographers used the wide format to celebrate rapid urban development, others like Connon enjoyed capturing expansive landscapes, like the ones near his home in Elora, Ontario. The panoramic effect remains popular today, in both photography and motion pictures, but the full 360-degree image has rarely been replicated.

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Library and Archives Canada

As the custodian of our distant past and recent history, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is a key resource for all Canadians who wish to gain a better understanding of who they are, individually and collectively. LAC acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to our documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.