Note: The original of this website is no longer online. I got it from So some of the links probably don't work. I tried to leave it original as far as possible, but I switched text and background colors for better readability. And I added some comments (in red) where I thought they are necessary. The original website is from Jason Vanderhill.

How to Recycle the Konica Film-In Panorama.

What you'll need:a Konica Film-in Panorama disposable camera (the panorama came either as a super-wide 17mm or a sharp 24mm with flash) a small flat screwdriver, an exacto knife, film (I'll talk about later), total darkness (to load the film), and some clear packing tape (to replace the cardboard wrapped around the camera, keeping everything together.)

You've probably thought to yourself, "I wonder if it's possible to reuse this disposable camera?" Actually, the camera manufacturers would rather you didn't call them disposable. 'Single-use' is the slightly more politically correct term they'd prefer (the cameras are supposed to be returned to photo labs all over the world for recycling). But to the mass market, they will always be disposable. To a select few, however, they can be recycled for use over and over again.

The Konica is one of my favourite cameras to recycle because of its distinctively wide-angle lens, and because it is relatively easy to recycle. Newer disposable cameras require you to break them apart just to get the film out, but not the Konica. It also has an almost "Land Rover-like" practicality to it, and it's unassuming looks help to catch subject matter off guard. No one will take you seriously if you use this camera, which is good, because with a lens this wide, you often need to get much closer to your subject than normal. Fortunately, the lens stays in focus right up to about 8 inches!

Konica made this camera for a good part of the 1990's, but who knows how much longer they will continue to manufacture it. Be on the lookout, and start collecting all the bodies you can find! The panoramic models may only be available seasonally, and perhaps not in all regions. I found this description at Konica-Europe, from the fall of 1999. At Konica's Japanese website, there is no specific mention of individual products, but they do explain briefly how the cameras are "recycled".  Last I checked, there was also a short Macromedia Shockwave animation showing an exploded view of the smaller 35mm model. All this info is dated 1996, incidentally. Visit your local photo labs, and if they're friendly, they might even let you sift through their disposable cameras to see what they have in their stockpile before sending them off for recycling. That might be your best chance at finding a body, if you don't have one already.

With the Konica Panoramic, you have a choice; you can convert them to shoot full-frame, or you can leave them as panoramic cameras. It's much easier to leave them as panoramics, but you're really just cropping the top and bottom third of your negative, so I say it's more interesting to go the distance and convert them to shoot full-frame. If you find a Konica Panoramic with flash, you've found a rather obscure variation. 

Here's what the 24mm Konica Panoramic looks like, with its lens hood retained. It's worth recycling this camera because of its sharp 24mm lens, but it is a bit bulkier than the 17, and doesn't have the distinctive vignetting of the 17. Still, it's an excellent wide-angle disposable camera with a flash!

Now, prepare to start recycling...

Step 1: 

If the camera was bought new and still contains the original film, make sure all the frames have been exposed. If the frame indicator dial reads E and you can't press the trigger, there is no film left to shoot. Peel away all the cardboard and open the trap door on the bottom of the camera. If all your film has been properly wound up in the 35mm canister, it should just fall out of the bottom of the camera. You'll probably have to pop the lens hood off the front of the camera with a small screwdriver to get all the cardboard off. I don't put the lens hood back on because it gets in the way when shooting full-frame, but you might want to hang on to it. (Without the lens hood, you're very vulnerable to getting your finger in the picture! You really have to keep the entire front of the camera clear of fingers, etc!)

Note: I shot a roll of film with the lens hood on, and it doesn't get in the way! So put it back on, it helps protecting the lens.

Step 2: 

With the trap door open and the film removed, start to pry the back of the camera off as shown above. (Use a small screwdriver, not a pair of scissors as shown above!) There are two plastic "retention clips" on the bottom and three "retention hooks" on the top holding the camera back in place. The hooks on the top are harder to unhook without breaking, so be careful. Try not to break the hook closest to the film advance; this causes the film advance wheel to slip backwards when trying to advance the film. Even if you break one or two of them, you can use clear packing tape to keep the camera body together well enough. 

Step 3: 

With the back of the film off, you'll see you need to remove the panoramic mask on the inside of the camera; pry it out with a screwdriver. That's the first step to converting the camera to a full-frame 17mm camera. Course, you can leave it there and keep shooting panoramic, because that's basically all you'll ever see in the viewfinder. But if you want a wide-angle, you also have to carve away the plastic at the front of the lens.

Note: It's not that easy. I also tried to pry the mask out with a screwdriver, but it's kept in place with two plastic hooks. I didn't want to damage the camera, so I removed the lens assembly and the shutter to unhook the mask. See my German description for details.
Note: I originally tried enlarging the viewfinder too, but eventually I gave up even using the viewfinder because basically, I could rest assured it would photograph everything between my peripheral vision. The viewfinder will really only show you a panoramic view of what your full-frame image will contain. It would be cooler if the viewfinder was a true representation of your frame, but it's just something you have to live with.

Step 4: 

Removing the panoramic mask from the front of the lens is the next task, and it is the most involved procedure. It could take some time, and will require careful attention to small parts. You need to take the front of the camera off, and then you get to dismantle the lens housing. First, pry the front cover up and over the frame indicator dial as shown above. Using a screwdriver can help. There are also two plastic hooks that hold the front of the camera in place. The holes in the front of the camera might give you a few clues on how to un-pry them. Once again, using a screwdriver can help.

With the front of the camera removed, you should be able to account for all the parts below: 
  • the first is the film advance wheel, 
  • the second is the frame number indicator dial, 
  • the third is associated with frame advance, 
  • the fourth is the trigger spring and plastic companion piece (it's black plastic so it's hard to make out below), 
  • and fifth is the sprocket advance wheel. 
All I can say is take careful note of where they all came from, and put them back where you found them. If it's any consolation, the good news is, they can really only go back together one way...

Step 5: 

Next, remove the lens housing as shown below. This step is a bit tricky, and somewhat dangerous, as the two plastic hooks that hold it in place cannot be broken. Use a small screwdriver again to help unhook them. Taking the lens housing off also reveals the shutter and spring; careful you don't lose those either.


Step 6: 

Next, you actually have to pop the lens out of it's housing. Use a soft cloth to push the front of the lens straight out the back. It should pop out nicely. See pieces below. The lens is made of two pieces of plastic--pretty cool actually. Use an exacto knife to carve away the panoramic mask at the front of the camera, as highlighted in blue below. This is tedious as you have to carve it away slowly; the plastic is a bit too thick to be removed in a few slices. Careful not to cut yourself either! 

Step 7: 

Once you've shaved the lens housing more or less completely round, you need to start putting everything back together! There is one more modification you can make if you'd like. The frame number indicator dial can be modified so that it doesn't stop advancing after 12 or 17 exposures. You can make your camera shoot up to 36 exposures by shaving off the protrusion (shown in blue below) on the under side of the frame indicator dial. This is helpful because when you reload film, you're often not really sure how many frames you have left, and so you're better off shooting till the film runs completely out. 

Note: Be aware that your last few pictures might not turn out. As you reach the end of the roll, you can never really be precisely sure how many frames you have left, so shoot liberally when approaching the end of your film. With this camera, you are spooling up your film INTO the canister, as opposed to pulling it out of the canister. That's why you don't have to rewind the film when you are done, and so your exposed pictures are actually safer than they might otherwise be in a conventional camera!

So, you've reached the end of the disassembly instructions! Hooray! Hopefully, some of them were helpful, if they weren't too obvious already. Now work your way backwards and you should have a complete reassembled camera!

Don't forget the film!

But before you put the back of the camera on, you'll need to prepare to reload it with film (in total darkness remember). I recommend sticking with your 400 ASA C-41 film of choice. You can use 800-3200 ASA if you think you'll be in lower than typical daylight, but your results will likely be less impressive. This camera does its best outdoors, in broad daylight. I also shot with Portra160 on a bright summers day, and I even shot a lot of slides (Ektachrome 100 specifically, thanks to one bulk roll from Ted Knude and one bulk roll from Milos Mali!). I had the lab push it one-two stops, depending on how bright of a day it was. The results were often surprisingly good.

I also usually just loaded half a roll of 36 because a full roll with 36 exposures is too hard to wind up in the take-up spool. If you aren't familiar with rolling your own film in a dark room, don't attempt to load more than a roll of 24 exposures. 

Note: it's no problem getting a roll of 36 in the camera! But then you MUST modify the frame number indicator dial.

To actually reload the camera, you need to spool all the unexposed film in the take-up spool. Because this has to be done in total darkness, you might want to practice loading the camera in daylight with bogus film, just to get used to the process. 

Once it's all back together loaded with film and with the trap door back on, you can wrap clear packing tape around the whole body of the camera to keep everything together, and to keep dust etc out of the camera. You can cover up the little holes on the front of the camera with tape too...

Shooting Tips: 
  • Remember, this camera is very wide-angle: Keep your fingers clear of the entire front of the camera! 
  • Lens flare is COOL! Shoot into the sun (without staring!)
  • This camera does very well to capture expansive landscapes in a single snapshot. 
  • It even does a good job capturing a panoramic view of both the scenery seen through the windshield of your car and the passengers in the front seat of your car all at the same time!
  • Turn the camera around and take cool self-portraits while rock-climbing, tree-climbing, and any other activity where you'd be afraid to hang a $1000 camera or camcorder around your neck.
  • If you want to photograph people, remember to get ludicrously close to your subject matter!!
  • Be aware of depth of field; try to shoot something that's less than 1 foot away from the lens on at least one frame per roll.
  • Ignore the viewfinder; shoot what you see.
  • Leave the camera in the care of someone under the age of 8 for a while.
  • Shoot liberally as you approach the end of your roll...
  • Break any of these rules if you prefer.
  • Enjoy!