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Review: Hasselblad XPan

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Intro:

The Hasselblad XPan – a legendary rangefinder with both panoramic and standard 35mm modes, which is interchangeable mid-roll! It’s a beast of a camera with a gorgeous viewfinder and excellent lenses. I shot a roll through it recently around South Leeds and was very happy with the results, so I thought I’d do a review on it here.

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A few good bits

Panoramic & normal 35mm modes – Unlike most panoramic cameras, the XPan has a nifty little switch next to the viewfinder which allows you to switch between panoramic & normal 35mm modes. Panoramic shooting can be quite restrictive and specific to certain needs so having this functions makes the XPan useable for every day situations as well.

Hasselblad optics – Not much else to say here! Hasselblad are obviously known for their quality, and the XPan lenses are no different. The images you get from them are fantastic.

Built like a tank – With a solid metal build, you could club an elephant to death with one of these and it’ll still be fully functional afterwards (although I’d advise strongly against doing so).

Automated wind on – For the lazy bunch out there, myself included. Some people may not like this due to it relying on electronics, but the electronics in these are very reliable, not like shoddy £20 camera electronics – these were actually built to last.

Metered & Auto modes – Again for the lazy bunch who can’t be bothered carrying a meter around too. Or if you’d rather focus on composing rather than the correct exposures. There is also a manual ISO override for pushing/pulling, and also a -2 to +2 exposure compensation dial.

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The switch to go between panoramic and standard 35mm modes.

A few bad bits

My hands hurt – It’s not the most ergonomic camera, it could definitely do with a hand grip on the right hand side. Not a major issue though, I’ve definitely held worse.

Vignette – Not so much a problem on negative film, but on slide film this can apparently be a problem, this is caused by the panoramic nature of the camera. Hasselblad released a filter specifically for the XPan which is basically a centre-weighted ND filter to counteract this.

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Sample images

Click to see higher resolutions.

All images shot on West Yorkshire Cameras C-41 Black & White film.

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The bottom line

Brilliant finder, excellent build quality, and fantastic image quality. The best feature is of course the panoramic mode which can be switched on and off mid roll. A must have for panorama lovers.

West Yorkshire Cameras
Unit 19, Leeds Corn Exchange LeedsWest YorkshireLS1 7BR England 
 • 01132460868

2 Responses to Review: Hasselblad XPan

  1. Peejay -

    January 22, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    I used to have the original model (as above) + the full compliment of lenses (30mm f5.6, 45mm f4 and 90mm f4). Because of the wide, panoramic gate and the angle at which the light hits the lenses and is transferred to film, the 30mm and 45mm lenses need a centre-spot filter which robs a further stop of light making the widest apertures pretty slow. Therefore, be prepared to use fast film (or a tripod) if the light is less than “bright”.

    The camera is actually made by Fuji. In Japan it’s a Fuji TX1. I’m not sure if the lenses are Zeiss (as per the 500 series cameras) or if they’re Fujinon. No matter, they are superb, if slow.

    I shot street, travel and landscapes with this camera and it certainly excelled with landscape – especially tripod-mounted.

    What irked me most about the XPan, though, is that there is no indication of what shutter speed the camera is selecting (in aperture priority mode) when you have your eye to the viewfinder. It’s just not there. That’s not a problem in bright daylight when you know you’ll get at least 1/60 or 1/125 minimum. There is a LED indicator when you’ve selected a correct aperture for the “A” mode, or combination of aperture and shutter speed in “manual” however, check the LCD display on the data back before you fire as 20 or so shots off a 36 roll doesn’t leave a lot of room for error.

    I loved this camera because it was discreet, had superb lenses and was very portable. Used to its strengths, there’s nothing to touch it but perfect it is not.

  2. wanderer86 -

    March 28, 2015 at 3:47 am

    Had the pleasure of using one that my mentor let me borrow. Loved it. It makes you compose in a whole different way, especially from the square format that I’m used to shooting with the 500C. Great pictures!

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