Using The Hasselblad X-Pan by Brett Price
I recently purchased a Hasselblad Xpan with the 45mm f4 lens and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on it for your website. Thanks again for making a site where people can do this. In light of their recent (laughable) offerings as a company I’m still optimistic they can change course and still make excellent cameras like they used to. Hopefully this semi-review/experience can breathe a bit of hope back into people, even if now its only nostalgia. I’m still hoping for a digital Xpan!
This camera has a cool story, I bought it from a teacher of mine who happens to be the Cinematographer of some excellent films such as Anchorman, Beetlejuice, and Jumanji and it was actually originally purchased while filming Anchorman. I believe he shot around 6 rolls through it total and has pretty much sat inside the original packaging until I purchased it from him. It’s as mint as it gets :)
I started shooting the camera as soon as I received it and I must say, in terms of build quality and feel, it’s as solid as a Leica. I honestly didn’t expect this only seeing photos of it online. For some reason the exterior looks very plastic-y which seems to throw off the conception of weight and build quality. Its pretty heavy for a camera its size but handles extremely well. I personally love shooting with it and its been my go to camera lately. I love cinema and movies and for some reason nothing makes a shot more cinematic looking that being in a near 3:1 aspect ratio. I don’t feel like my photos are all that different from what I typical shoot but this camera gives them a look that is extremely interesting and cinematic.
If you are interested in one of these cameras there are a few things I learned upon receiving it that I didn’t know (good and bad). There is actually a way to make the camera shoot normal 35mm aspect ratio as well as panoramic. There is a switch on the back that opens and closes a set of “blinders” inside the camera. I don’t really understand why this was done or why anyone would want to use it but ok, it’s there. The camera loads the entire roll into the take up reel when you first put the film in, this means if you accidentally open the camera, you probably just flashed most of your roll. I see this as good and bad, the good news is the shots you’ve taken are protected, the bad news is that you might loose a whole roll of film if opened. I doubt this will happen I just found it interested due to the fact it works almost totally opposite of any other 35mm camera I’ve used. There is no shutter speed indicator in the viewfinder (only on the first model is this a problem). So if you shoot on auto you have readouts as to what is being properly exposed and what is over and under. Much like a Leica you have — O + near the bottom of the viewfinder but this is always the case rather than on an M7 it would tell you the exact shutter speed.
The images you get from the camera are sharp. very sharp in my opinion. I don’t really see the tell tale 3D rendering I’m used to with my 501cm but its got a nice unique look to it regardless. Its stiffer to use than you would think, which is a plus in my opinion and its pretty easy to focus with the rangefinder patch being brighter than my M7.
Anyway I bought the camera on a whim and its quickly become one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy the photos. I constantly update my tumblr account with new work if you want to check out more in the future as I update. Its: BrettPrice.tumblr.com