Fujifilm Professional TX-2 – Seeing Panoramic

The Fujifilm Professional TX-2 (its sister Hasselblad XPan I/II or the older Fuji TX)  is one of those cameras which you lust after, and when you get it, open the packaging and have it in your hands at last, you marvel at the build quality, the heft and solidity, the beauty of the workmanship and the lens as you handle the jewel like thing and attach it to the body. You then oooh and aaaah as you lift it and put it to your eye and are blown away by the clear bright finder which is very wide and large indeed! You then want to go out and shoot with it so you insert the batteries and then the film – which is as easy to load as a point and shoot

Aberystwyth, Cardiganshire, Wales – Fuji Velvia 50
Castel-y-Bere, North West Wales – Fuji Velvia 50
Barmouth North West Wales – Fuji Velvia 50
Barmouth, North West Wales – Fuji Velvia 50

It was instantly familiar to me as I had been shooting with the Contax G2 for 13 years at that point. The Fuji is very similar; being an electronic auto winding and motorised RF. the difference lies in the Manual Focus lens, the bigger wider VF with RF patch and the wider longer nature of it – apart from that it felt like second nature to me. 

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey  – Agfa Precisa 100
Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey – Agfa Precisa 100
Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey – Agfa Precisa 100

I’d always wanted one – I used to be a member of the old ContaxG.com Contax G pages website – where I learned much and met some great people. There was a sister site called the Fuji Rangefinder Pages where you had Fuji RF users posting their stuff with discussions etc – these websites were amazing and here I saw masterpieces of Film photography including many shot with the Fuji TX or a Hasselblad XPan. Most of the compositions were very creative and shot on Slide film were beautiful to behold, everything from reportage to landscapes had such a wow factor. (Some guys also had the big brother Fujifilm GX617. I guess the TX is really Medium Format rather than 35mm Full Frame which would make the GX617 Large Format rather than MF!)

I managed to snag one from ffordes photographic for a bargain £700 back in 2016. It was boxed in great condition with the Fujinon 45mm Super EBC f4 lens.

Waylands Smithy, Oxfordshire
Waylands Smithy, Oxfordshire
Waylands Smithy, Oxfordshire – Fuji Provia 100

Shooting with it requires one to try compose using the panoramic format – which at first seems really exciting but I found it to be limited. I don’t know nor have heard of anyone who has the Fuji TX or a Hasselblad XPan as their main or only camera – most have it in addition to their main one to be used when the scene is deserving of the panoramic format. Of course the camera has the option to shoot on regular 35mm format and this can be done easily with a flick of a switch and the roll of film could include both mixed formats, but the lens is too slow to be versatile enough to shoot regular 35mm – portraits for example aren’t its forte.

I took mine on holiday to Pembrokeshire and Barmouth in Wales and also to Cornwall amongst other places and shot using Fujichrome Velvia 50, Provia 100 and Agfa Precisa 100 (Agfafoto Sensia one rather than the real deal Agfa) 

I did enjoy it – and was quite pleased with some of my results. Looking for, Composing and shooting the scene was interesting and gave me something I hadn’t done before. But I guess I myself was limited in what I could achieve with it. I’ve seen some amazing and creative photography with this, recently DPreview had this article about https://www.dpreview.com/articles/8530630118/film-friday-xpan-triptych-tokyo-captures-the-chaos-of-city-life – with some great work with Triptych using the format. I lacked the creativity and daring to try something different and ended up with relatively boring safe horizontal shots.

The camera was quick and easy to use and the lens was wickedly sharp with lovely rendering.  It makes a Great travel camera, relatively compact with good battery life and quick to use –  the Panoramic format is great for this genre of photography as it enables you to try something different with the scene. Though this will likely be a back up to a main regular format camera – or rather it used to when sold at a sensible price. I wouldn’t risk a £7k camera up a mountain or along a coast! Though others would – If it were a manual mechanical tough and very expensive camera like some MF and LF setups out there then of course but this is quite delicate – a drop and it could be goodbye electronics. I guess these are ridiculously expensive as there’s nothing else like them around.

The meter had a tendency to under expose and difficult contrasty lighting is always going to be difficult using E6 regardless of how one meters. I guess I should’ve done what I do with the Contax G2 and shoot slightly over exposed using the exposure compensation or rate the film slightly slower. But I didn’t have the experience with it.

I eventually sold it – do I regret selling it? Yes and no, No because I found the panoramic novelty wore of pretty quick and subsequently the camera was at home gathering dust for ages as I didn’t want to lug another camera around unless I was going abroad – but even then I ended up taking a regular MF camera as a back up/alternative addition to my G2. I was more than happy with the Contax G2 (which is as well built as the Fuji with supreme optics and speed) I regret selling it because I sold mine for about £1000 and now it’s selling for close to £7k!! If I had waited a short while I could’ve sold it for much more!

Bales of Hay, Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall – Agfa Precisa 100
Regatta at The Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall – Agfa Precisa 100
Regatta at The Roseland Peninsula, Cornwall – Agfa Precisa 100

The TX-2 is a lovely camera and one which would be great as a back up for when you want to shoot high quality panoramic – it’s lovely but not £7k lovely. Massively overpriced – if you’re loaded and can splurge £7k on a secondary camera go for it. (you can get the TX-1 for close to £5k!) I think the Hasselblad XPan I and II are around the same price. And do you really want to risk a £7k camera? if you’re a Pro or  In a studio sure – but this isn’t made for a studio! 

If it had faster lenses then it would be more versatile – but it hasn’t and it isn’t. Also Being electronic I could see some very expensive repairs and as I said it’s quite limited in what it can do and be used as. For that amount of coin I could get a Mamiya 6 a Mamiya 7 a set of lenses and the Panoramic adapter to go with them with lots of change to spare!

Do I miss it? Yes – Sometimes I wish I had one on me, in a recent trip to the Karakoram and Himalaya I really wished I had had one with me as some of the scenes were well worthy of the format. But that’s the thing, I wish I had the option of using the format rather than the Fuji per se.

I’ll leave you with one question – why hasn’t anyone else released a proper panoramic 35mm camera? Like the Fuji (rather than a Horizon)?


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23 thoughts on “Fujifilm Professional TX-2 – Seeing Panoramic”

  1. I love wider formats but have never had one of these. And judging by the price probably never will 🙁 I do own a Fujifilm GX617 and every year decide to sell it, but I still haven’t. Remarkable how the 35 mm systems are consistently about double the price of the larger format Fujifilm GX617

    1. I noticed! It seems as if Medium Format is much more affordable than ‘higher end’ 35mm
      I have also noticed that the price of used Xpan II’s has come down slightly to around the £5.7k mark – which is still about 80% inflated well above it should sensibly be.

      1. Interesting article. Xpan with standard lens ( 45mm) is still cheaper than a Horseman SW617 or Technorama 617 IIIs with standard lens (90mm) !! Ideally an MF panoramic body, which is just a light sealed both with a lens mount, shouldn’t be more expensive than a sophisticated Xpan, but that’s not the case here !

        The other day I was carrying an SWC/M in a single day train trip hoping that I could take few train shots, but I ended up not taking a single pic mainly because the whole process of using an external light meter to adjust settings to taking pics, that too without being a center of attarction in a busy Indian railway station, is not easy. It is doable, but lot of hassle. This is where compact 35mm cameras like Xpan adds value. My 2 cent.

  2. Nice article! I had the Xpan, TX-1 (rebadged Xpan 1) and still have the TX-2.
    From a reliability point of view the Xpan2/TX-2 is the one to get because the on/off switch on the original model fails with extended use. On my Xpan it had become decidedly notchy, while my barely used TX-1 was still silky smooth. Parts are no longer available…
    In usage the Tx-2 shows the exposure info in the VF, the Tx-1/Xpan shows it on the back of the camera. Now here’s the dirty little secret.. while the Xpan is a true pano camera, you get the exact same perspective if you crop a regular 35mm image into the Xpan format.
    What does this mean? The Xpan’s 45mm lens is equivalent to a 28mm on a regular 35mm camera. So if you crop a 28mm shot into a pano, and took the same shot w the Xpan and the 45, they will look exactly the same. The only time you will notice a difference is when you start to make big enlargements as the Xpan obviously has more surface area to play with.
    But, where’s the fun and vision in just cropping a regular image? The thing w the Xpan is it forces you to ‘see’ your subject matter as a pano, which encourages you to modify how you shoot. It commits you to the pano.
    Which brings me to dirty secret #2 – the Fuji Work Record Pano. There are many P&S cameras that have a little pano switch that drops a mask over the film gate to create a pano format. The vast majority of them have dotted frame lines in the VF – that are always visible- that show the framing for the pano mode.
    However, the Fuji does not do that. In regular mode you see a regular VF. In pano mode it actually also masks off the VF so you see a ‘real’ pano view! Also the lens is a superb 28mm – matches the view of the Xpan! It has a huge VF. It is water resistant. While it is an AF camera it has a setting where you can manually set the focus distance. And it has a surprisingly powerful built in flash.
    Downsides? Limited exposure range that is full auto. But enough for daytime shooting.
    Upside? You can get them for $100+-. Of note there are two versions, one w/o the pano and no ability to set the focus distance manually. And the better pano version. Both have the same lens and interestingly cost about the same. I have both versions – I bought the non pano first not knowing about the pano version! – but if had only one get the pano.

    Think of it as an AF, water resistant Xpan for $100!

    1. Thanks for that Hus and the info! and also the dirty secrets! I’m going to go take a look!!
      Glad to see you here from back in the day on the steve huff site!

    2. Nitpicking a bit, the equivalent focal length (horizontally) is 25mm: an Xpan frame is 65mm wide, so 65/36 = 1.8 and 45/1.8 = 25.

      So many options for cropped 35mm! Many other Fuji point n’shoot offer a pano switch, also Nikon AF 600, the Minolta P’S which has the closest focal length… Also many SLRs –the Pentax MZ-5 comes to mind– but almost every major brand made “fake panorama” cameras.
      Cheap plastic pano? Ansco Pix Panorama, Panorama Wide Pic, Vivitar PN2011…
      Disposables? Konica Film-In Panorama (with a 17mm lens), Kodak Fun Saver Panoramic 35 (aka Stretch 35)… They can all be refilled.

  3. Brian Nicholls

    It is Castell y Bere. Note the ll, which is a letter in the Welsh alphabet (not just two ‘l’s).

      1. This is seriously wierd!
        I posed the comment about the Welsh ‘ll’, but for some reason it was attributed to Brian Nicholls (of whom I have never heard).
        (Although I am a Scot, I lived in Wales for 24 years!)

  4. Thanks for the interesting post.

    Does the XPan II/TX-2 really sell for that much, or are these over-optimistic Buy-it-now prices?
    I know the XPan I goes for considerably less. Last week I saw one sold from a German shop for less than 2500 Euros, which is similar to asking prices for a Mamiya 6.
    I have the XPan I and will use it until it dies. I hope by then that Fuji will have added the XPan format as a standard option to their XPro or XT cameras. I agree with Huss that it makes a huge difference being able to see the correct format in the viewfinder rather than cropping later.

    1. Hi thanks
      The hasselblad XPan II seems to have dropped in price but still sky high with retailers as well (see ffordes.co.uk who have one for £5750) the Fuji being rarer costs more. £2500 is still sky high for the mark I considering I bought the mark 2 one here in 2016 for £750. I sold for £1000 in 2019.

      I’m sure Ricoh Pentax if (unlikely ) you’re watching or reading this in your quest for a new range of 35mm cameras – a fully manual SLR in this format should be considered!

  5. David Dutchison

    You really do have a good eye for that format, I hope you find your way back to doing more. A late model Rolleicord and the Rollei panoramic tripod head is one (relatively) low cost way of doing it – bulky though.

    1. Thank you David!
      I found it quite difficult. And now I’ve the urge to try the format again. I saw Hamish’s review of the Minolta P’s and fancy that
      Was there a Minolta SLR with Panoramic option? I wonder

  6. Nice scenes! Great work. The 30mm ƒ/5.6 lens is a spectacular optic on an X-Pan or TX. With the official center filter, it sells for serious $$s in USA. It is hard to use because you need to think about grand vistas or find busy scenes that add detail everywhere. A friend in town has a complete kit that he let me use. Here are some examples from Mississippi:



      1. Thanks. That 30mm lens is spectacular. It took a lot of practice to figure out the best way to use it, to get into the scene And I’m just an XPan novice. I’m a bit nervous to use my friend’s kit in case the electronics fry themselves.

  7. It might have been hard to select good scenes but you certainly did well with this set. You might want to consider a Soviet Horizon type just to have for special occasions – much cheaper and no electronics to worry about. I have the Lomography version.

    1. Thank you Scott
      And thanks for the recommendation . Money is quite tight these days but there’s light at the end of the tunnel and soon I’ll be able to look into at least trying a Horizon – which I first saw years back when watching and then looking at the photos of David Adams in his documentary series journeys to the ends of the earth
      Thanks again

  8. I remember a friend in college grabbing a panoramic disposable camera and taking lovely photos of a hike, and then later seeing her long pano photos (from the local lab), taped on her wall, and deep in my conscious I was enamored with those panoramic images (this was mid-to-late 90s). Somehow, though, I never was brave enough or smart enough to save up and even just buy a pano disposable camera. Weirdly, it wasn’t until I was home during the early part of the pandemic, when I did some internet searching, and bought a new/old disposable panoramic camera from an online auction site, and then went down the rabbit hole. I didn’t realize the plethora of cameras that had panorama options (cropped film, or otherwise), nor that many others desired the panorama view that I wanted, too. Since then, I have quite enjoyed reading and watching many other’s joy with the panoramic frame and reading yours was wonderful. It was fun to see your images and then read other comments with the “dirty secrets.” I have quite a few cameras with a panoramic field of view, even if it was a cheap plastic camera that masked part of the film for that yearned for aspect ratio. I am now embarking on a year-long panoramic film project, maybe I’ll write about and share on 35mmc, when I’ve completed it. I’m not sure mine are “dirty secrets”, but I’ll share my panoramic camera findings: the Vivitar IC101, the Vivitar PN2011 (mentioned above), the Asco Pix Panorama (in the 90s it was packaged in the Nature Company’s Panorama Camera box) also mentioned above, the Panorama Wide Pic 35mm focus-free camera with toggles for panoramic/normal views of which I’m not sure the brand (also mentioned above, I think), the Polaroid (not instant despite the name) 3000AF, the Nikon Zoom Touch 470 AF which had a leather-like tiny pouch on its strap that included a little frame that could be inserted into the film compartment for panoramic masking and framing. Also, some of the Minolta SLRs had panoramic options (with a switch) and I know you’ve mentioned you’ve used various Minoltas: the Minolta Stsi and the Minolta 350si. And, thank goodness for Lomography offering several panoramic options: the Lomography 360 Spinner, the Lomography Sprocket Rocket, and the Lomography Hydrochrome Sutton. There are many others, but in case someone finds this comment in a panoramic rabbit hole (a bit of an oxymoron, for sure), I wanted to share a few of my findings. Again, thanks for your photos and articles! I really appreciate what you photograph, write about, and share!

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