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The Widelux, as used by Jeff Bridges

Kottke featured some widescreen photos taken by Jeff Bridges on the set of various movies over the last few decades using a Widelux film camera and I was taken by how they appeared to be made using a slit-scan method, particularly the Tragedia/Comedia poses.

It’s pretty clear that the camera was whipped to the right half way through the process at which point Clooney changed his expression, rather like sliding paper across a flatbed scanner mid scan (and the paper changing its expression…).

As you’ll know, I’m rather obsessed with slit-scan photography and had not heard of this Widelux camera. Here’s a photo of it.

It’s an actual, bonafide slit-scan camera designed to be used handheld or on a tripod. The lens is mounted on a slit on that barrel at the front which moves from one side to the other, projecting a focussed column of light on the film in the camera body. Here’s a video of someone loading it with film which kinda explains it. (There are loads of videos on YouTube, most of which betray an amusing ignorance of what this thing is.)

So, of course, I want one. But they go for between £500 and £2,000 on eBay. So that’s not happening. Bah.

But I did find an alternative. Lomo, those scummy hipster-chasing wankers who fool idiots into paying silly money for shit cameras, made a knock-off which they call the Spinner 360. You’ll note how their video shows you what it looks like and what the images look like but tells you nothing about how it actually works. But it’s definitely a slit-scan. And I found a cheap one on eBay.

It’s been at least a decade, maybe longer, since I shot film. Looks like I’ll be shooting again. (Albeit with a fucking Lomo camera, but beggars can’t be choosers.)

In the meanwhile, do go look at Jeff Bridges’ Widelux photos. His website is very old school but worth all the clicking. This one of Olivia Wilde before she was a big-shot director is just delightful. Look at that smile!

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