The Baby Al-Vista camera takes panoramic photographs measuring 2 1/4 x 6 3/4 inches on 120 roll film. The lens rotates through a 180 degree arc to create an extreme wide angle image on a curved film plane. The camera does not have a shutter. Instead the photographer removes the lens cap before releasing the rotating lens and replaces it after exposure.
Two models of Baby Al-Vista cameras were produced: No. 1 and No. 2. This example, a No.1 uses an adjustable spring to drive the lens. The spring has four tension settings giving four rotation speeds. A faster rotation produces a shorter exposure time. The lens aperture is fixed. Thus the No. 1 Baby Al-Vista can be adjusted for four different light levels.
The lens driving spring on the No. 2 is not adjustable. To vary sweep speed, rotating fans act as governors. Fans (or vanes) of different sizes were provided with the camera. A fan is selected and mounted on the camera. During exposure the fan rotates with the movement of the lens. Each fan encounters air resistance in relation to its size, so speeds vary according to the fan used.
The No. 1 was the only Al-Vista camera to use an adjustable spring for exposure control. Fans were used on all other models. It is also the smallest and simplest of the Al-Vista cameras. Al-Vista cameras were manufactured and sold by the Multiscope & Film Company of Burlington, Wisconsin USA. The Baby Al-Vista was sold between 1906 and 1908.
Page created June, 2001; updated December 20, 2020