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
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.
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.
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!
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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