Hasselblad XPan Review (35mm Panoramic Camera – Hasselblad Rangefinder)
Hasselblad Xpan? 2015 ended on a real high after buying my Hasselblad 501C in September. It was the camera that was giving me the most enjoyment and arguably also the best pictures I had ever taken.
I read a lot and am always getting new ideas as to what I want to try next and what direction I want to go with my photography. I am the eternal optimist so often the grand ideas lead to disappointment in reality once I try a certain camera for a particular idea. One early example was to use two Kiev 88 film cameras for wedding photography. I got the cameras but by that time my experience and knowledge had moved on and a new idea was brewing. Leica cameras were on the horizon. I flip flop from the high quality medium format negative size to the speed and portability of 35mm. Neither are the perfect solution but both have their strengths.
I love the Hasselblad 501C camera for built quality, lenses and its large negative size. I also love my new 35mm Leica M6 for the build quality, lenses, portability and light meter. What would happen if I could combine both cameras? Please let me introduce you to the Hasselblad XPan!
I had never considered buying a Hasselblad XPan camera before nor had ever had any interest towards them. The XPan came to me almost by accident in my reading for my next grand idea. Within a 48hr period of comparing many other cameras I had introduced myself to the XPan, learnt the major pros and cons, got up to speed on how the XPan photos look and then purchased one.
I will be open and say I very nearly bought a Mamiya 7ii instead. The three things that stopped me getting the Mamiya 7 were the higher cost (with a wide lens), the similarities to my existing Fuji GF670 and the fact that I’m not a big 6×7 film format fan (yet). I love composing with 6×6 and feel 645 film is a big enough jump up from 35mm. I’m not sure I need 6×7.
The Hasselblad XPan is a 35mm rangefinder camera like my Leicas but comes in a titanium – aluminium body. The XPan has a built in light meter like the Leica M6 and like all Leica M cameras is a coupled rangefinder camera system with interchangeable lenses. The XPan has the solid (built like a tank) feel and build quality of a Hasselblad 500 series camera and the small form factor of a Leica. Leica M cameras are ‘limited’ by the maximum film negative size of 35mm (24x35mm). The Hasselblad XPan however has panoramic mode (24x65mm) and shoots two 35mm frames side by side to make a negative almost two times larger . As such a 45mm lens equates to roughly a 25mm lens yet with zero distortion at the edges as it is a 45mm lens. A larger negative also gives a greater shallow depth of field so the 90mm f4 lens actually looks more like perhaps an f2 lens with beautifully graduated background and foreground separation. At first glance the Hasselblad XPan looks to be a very well designed camera with a PC sync port, a shutter release cable port, spirit level supplied as standard, the ability to switch between normal 35mm mode and P for panoramic mode mid roll, a basic LCD with battery life and exposures remaining all in a very neat and compact camera. The only negative I read and have seen is the paint flakes off the body easily.
The Hasselblad XPan was a joint venture and made in collaboration with Fujifilm. The Fuji TX-1 / TX-2 are the Fujifilm badged version. There was a similar collaborate to Zeiss and Fujifilm who co-made my Fuji GF670 camera.
So what does the Hasselblad XPan bring? I look forward to the challenge of shooting and composing the panoramic images especially for my model photography where it is seen less often. I don’t take many landscape photos but if I did this would certainly be an amazing travel companion. I look forward to trying the XPan for street photography and also for wedding photography. It has the benefits of a Leica in that I can work fast and travel light. Any camera that lets me do this normally gets to travel more and work more than my bigger cameras. The large format 4×5 cameras for example have never been out the UK.
I will take my new Hasselblad XPan camera on my next model photography trip and see what I can do. The resulting images will certainly be something fresh for my Flickr feed and Instagram.