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Apr 102017

Making panoramic compositions with a Fuji GX617 and Hasselblad XPan

Dirk Dom

Shooting panoramas is extremely easy nowadays. Either you stitch, or you use a panoramic camera. The images below are made with a Fuij GX617 and with a Hasselblad Xpan.

The big Fuji shoots four 2.2 by 6.6 inch (5.6 by 168mm) images on 120 film. The image ratio is 3/1. I have a 90 and a 180mm lens, which are equivalent horizontally to full frame 20 and 40mm. Shooting it is serious work and needs to be done from a tripod. The images it makes (equivalent to 300 megapixel) can be printed many feet wide, with a crazy resolution.

The Xpan shoots 0.94 by 2.56 inch (24 x 65mm) images on 35mm film, 20 images a roll. Image ratio is 2.7/1. I have a 45 and a 90mm lens. Full frame equivalent, horizontally, is 24 and 50mm. I’ve never yet fired an Xpan shot from a tripod. It’s an extremely playful, spontaneous rangefinder camera with stunning image quality. Motion blur from hand held photographing limits printing to five feet wide.

Panoramas are in principle landscapes with a wide image view. Some examples:

However, one is not limited to landscapes at all. You can use the wide aspect ratio image (let’s say 2/1 and wider) for completely different shots:


You’re also not limited to wide angle. Most of the time I use the normal 180 and 90mm lenses. People say I’m out of my mind that I use camera’s like the big Fuji, because digital stitching is so easy and practical.


Try these, stitching:

As you can see, exposing a strip of film at once has its advantages. As seen in the fireworks shot, you’re not limited to a horizontal image. If the composition fits the aspect ratio you can get quite beautiful compositions:

I make lots of vertical images. Digital cameras have more than enough pixels to crop to a panoramic image. So do medium format film camera’s. This is a cropped digital image:


I think that, digitally, the best way to work is to tape off your viewing screen and use live view to compose your image. Trying to imagine my panoramic composition in a normal viewfinder image doesn’t work for me.

Discovering panoramic compositions.

 You need to fill your image in a beautiful way. Don’t shoot 1.5 to 1 image ratios with a 3/1 camera.

An example. Here I have lots of space left on the sides of the subject:

This is better:

Your viewfinder is your friend to discover compositions. Take plenty of time.

A longer lens allows you to fill the image:

Panoramic composition.

Just as with the square image of 6×6, you need to be able to discover good compositions for the panoramic aspect ratio. It’s possible this is not for you. It’s also quite possible you absolutely hate any vertical wide aspect compositions. Borrow or rent a camera before you take the plunge of buying one to see if it works out.

The rules of composition of course all apply, but my experience is that you have to keep to them more strictly. A panorama has more space and needs more structure, it needs to be sort of calmer. It also takes a longer time to discover the image. Let me give you some rules, of which I’m sure you all know them and some image examples:


Ideally, from left, up to right, down.

Rule of thirds.

Often, you need to put two subjects in a panorama because the image is too wide:


Negative space is the part of your shot not occupied by your subject. I like images with lots of room.

Camera view point:

This one is taken with the camera at ground level, 45 degrees up without looking through the viewfinder:


Fore- and background:


Can be extremely powerful in panoramic compositions. Take great care composing.

Clean up your image.

My sincerest apologies to the purists, but I get rid of junk and wires:



Making vertical and parallel.

Very important with architecture.



Well, I hope you enjoyed this and it was a bit useful,



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