Photos & Projects

First roll with the Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Just before Christmas I bought myself an Hasselblad XPan ii with a 45mm lens. I’ve got some pretty clear ideas what I want to do with this camera, though in fact largely speaking I think I’m more interested in the results I can achieve with the 90mm I’ve bought since.

Regardless, the 45mm is a lens I still want to get to grips with; I’m pretty certain I can find good use for it, especially when the summer comes and me and the family start going out for our walks in the countryside again. So, first roll, just a bit of a mission to get used to the camera and experiment with the field of view and aspect ratio a bit.

First impressions of the camera are fairly positive, it’s seems largely speaking fairly logical to use and is comfortable in the hand, if a little big and heavy. I’ll get to all that in much more detail when I eventually get around to writing the review. In the meanwhile I just want to talk about my first roll.

Unfortunately, the first roll was somewhat of a disaster. I’ve got so used to shooting the M-A recently that the automation completely confuddled me. I loaded a roll of HP5, set the ISO to 3200 and proceeded to shoot on aperture priority without paying any real attention to how the meter was responding. It didn’t go well, many of my shots ended up underexposed leaving me with murky scans.

AG photo lab assure me they processed at +3, so my current feeling is that I need to spend some time learning how the meter reads (something I’ve been doing with the currently loaded roll).

Regardless of the slight balls up, and the somewhat murky underexposed scans I received back, I have been able to salvage something out of a couple of the shots with the slightly heavier use of Lightroom than I’m usually comfortable applying.

These are the best of the bunch, far from perfect exposures, yes, but I do love the aspect ratio, and actually feel quite comfortable with the focal length

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Hasselblad Xpan II & 45mm

Wish me more luck with the next roll!

Hamish

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42 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrik
    January 15, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Panorama is the shit! Xpan-II is on my bucket list for sure! A bit more mobile than my G617 🙂
    Will follow your thoughts with this camera!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 15, 2016 at 9:49 pm

      Haha, I agree!
      Should have another roll to show soon… Think the full review might take a little while with this one, feels like there is a lot to explore

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Paul Needham
    January 15, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I think you are being way too hard on yourself Hamish regarding the quality of these shots. Sure a couple, the one of your daughter on the swing for instance, are still a little under exposed, but there’s nothing that can’t be easily recovered in Lightroom. I’d just open up the shadows a touch and go in with the adjustment brush here and there. There’s absolutely no shame in that. If you’d printed these yourself you’d surly have dodged them to squeeze out as much detail as you could wouldn’t you? And no one would think any the less of you for doing so. Why be bashful about utilising the convenience of the digital darkroom. As long post-production is handled in considered and sympathetic manner the process is largely besides the point. A good image is a good image regardless and I’ll take, vibe, composition and content over technical perfection any day. Ok so these shots might lean a little more towards the Dark Side than you’d of preferred, but that’s your inner purist messing with your head. They’re cool, nuff said.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 15, 2016 at 11:12 pm

      The original of Connie on the swing is really murky, this was the best balance I could find. I should know better than to shoot a auto camera into the sun, I just wasn’t concentrating … I knew the mistake straight away too! Never mind, at least I got a shot, and as you say that’s what’s important!
      My big issue with Lightroom and adjusting scans is just down to the degradation in quality. The grain becomes more obvious unless your very careful. Because of this, I tend to try to aim for the best exposure in camera. I accept a bit of murky in low lit/indoors etc, but for some shots I expect more of myself than making some of the more schoolboy mistakes I made on this roll 🙂
      It matters not though, it’s all part of the learning curve, and it’d be dull if everything went perfectly to plan! Doing shot sometimes makes the good times feel even better! 😉

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Paul Needham
        January 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        I couldn’t agree more Hamish. I’m just working my way through the Elvis Costello autobiography and he makes a similar point about how an artists individual style is often defined by trying to ape someone else and failing. Our mistakes define us and as you say make for a more interesting life.

        Regarding your Lightroom and scanning. That’s not something I have any experience with. My workflow, apart from introducing some vintage lenses into my kit bag, is currently digital, although I’m on the verge of setting up my first home dark room since the late ’90s. My background is actually in live music photography, though these day I shoot as much local press/event/sports based work as I do music. Years of shooting in under-lit clubs (often with no flash) has left subtle grain has right at the bottom of my list of priorities. It’s generally a case of taking anything you can get and recovering the quality as best you can after the fact.

        I still think that’s a lot you could do to recover that shot your daughter on the swing. It’s a cracking composition and would be worth the effort.

        Just wanted to say how much I enjoy the site, The balance you strike between vintage gear porn and an insightful and common-sense approach to both day-to-day shooting and gear acquisition is refreshing. The site is a treasure trove of useful and well thought out information and tips, from the ‘Leatherman Squirt’ review to the recent ‘7 Reasons you should own a Thread Mount Leica’ posts (I do, a 1955 IIIf.) I always come away from 35mmc both informed and inspired. Great work!

        • Avatar
          Reply
          Hamish Gill
          January 17, 2016 at 7:28 pm

          That’s very kind of you to say Paul! It’s always good to hear of people getting so much from the place! Genuinely encourages me to continue too! Thanks 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Cody Priebe
    January 15, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    I love the swing shot. I am a sucker for symmetry too, so the bottom one is great!

    The sausage one too is really cool. I love the amount of black. ah- they are all cool. Well done.

    Cant wait to see more!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 7:54 am

      I really like symmetry too the one of Connie in front of a window is one of my faves here for that reason. Are you aware of the collaborative work of Robert D. Yeoman and Wes Anderson? I am a big Wes Anderson fan. Have a look here, scroll down to ‘wide angle lenses’ – thats basically the inspiration for the shot of Connie, and one of my big motivations for buying this camera.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        marco north
        January 16, 2016 at 11:33 am

        Hamish – glad to hear you say that -that is the one shot that I think you got something special with as far as composition. This aspect ratio is a seductive one – far too easy to create certain landscape and portrait frames – all “lovely” but the way a sunset on a calendar is lovely. There is something empty, or un-redeeming about those choices. That said, the frame at the window, back turned, working that symmetry in a really strong way – that is a frame that holds you. Enjoy the camera, and from my side – get the obvious compositions out of your system and get to more like this. rock on!

        • Avatar
          Reply
          Hamish Gill
          January 16, 2016 at 12:31 pm

          Cheers Marco, it was some of the wide format shots you used to post more of on Instagram that got me thinking about all this XPAN lark you know… That’s how I came to the idea of cinematic photography as something I’d like to try!
          I shall try not to disappoint! 😉

          • Avatar
            marco north
            January 16, 2016 at 1:05 pm

            Haha, you know – I was going to suggest using the humore or hueless apps to get used to shooting in this format. It really takes time to adjust – somehow much harder than going to square medium format. The thing is, you think you are making a movie when you shoot this way, and that is in itself not a bad thing, but it is a sort of trap at the same time. the widescreen image elevates the mundane, but you need to get away from the normal rules of thirds. In general, I suggest this is an exercise – frame up what your gut tells you – then take two steps forwards (or backwards) also two steps left or right. Now see if you can create tension in the frame, not just “pleasing”.

            Also, look at any of the Fassbinder films shot widescreen – (He often operated the camera himself you know!). I think there are plenty of great offbeat compositions there. Year of Thirteen Moons for example….

          • Avatar
            Hamish Gill
            January 16, 2016 at 1:23 pm

            Excellent, I shall take a look. I’ve read a few times lately that the format can make the mundane look pleasing, but it’s a bit of a trap that’s easy to fall into. I shall wedge your tip in my brain, and see what happens!

          • Avatar
            Hamish Gill
            January 16, 2016 at 1:23 pm

            Thanks Marco

          • Avatar
            marco north
            January 16, 2016 at 1:41 pm

            and you know, inspiration is a two-way street. you made me feel guilty for neglecting my xpan. I have a roll of rolled color slide film in mine at the moment – the stuff that is supposed to be the (quiet) return of AGFA RSX200.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrick
    January 16, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Hey Hamish,

    I agree with Paul, you are too hard on yourself. The exposures convey a nice mood. Your compositions are great, especially the last five.
    I bought the original Xpan when it first came out in the 90s (I was on the wait list from B+H, so it was an early production model), the paint peeled off like crazy and the 45 was quite soft on the edges, especially wide open. Honestly, quite disappointing. I sold it after a year or so because Corbis refused taking any images shot with the Xpan. Fuji must of redesigned the 45, ’cause your results looks a hell of a lot better than what I recall getting. Do you know if your 45 is a newer version? What is the difference between the Xpan and XpanII camera bodies?
    It’s such a nice ratio. Thanks for sharing.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 7:58 am

      I’m not sure about the 45mm. Maybe you had a duff? A shame, but its possible I suppose, from what I know its a very well regarded lens!
      The main difference between the two cameras seems to be the fact that the shutter speed is displayed in the finder of the later model. The later model also has a menu driven iso control as opposed to the wheel on the front of the earlier… There are a few other differences that escape me, I’ll dig them out for the review when I get around to it I’m sure.
      Thanks for the positive feedback too 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Aukje
    January 16, 2016 at 6:58 am

    I like these a lot, and I am really interested in seeing what you do with the panorama form factor. A couple of days ago I got my first roll shot with the Minolta Riva back, so I am just getting familiar with it myself.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 7:59 am

      The Riva Pano? Great little camera that is!
      You’ll have to show me your results…?

      • Avatar
        Reply
        aukje
        January 16, 2016 at 5:26 pm

        I will… And my first roll with the M2 is back. Just have to find a quiet moment.

        • Avatar
          Reply
          Hamish Gill
          January 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm

          Are you happy with the results?

          • Avatar
            aukje
            January 16, 2016 at 7:03 pm

            With some of them, I guess, a bit. I might need some distance. I don’t know, they seem a bit random, incoherent. I want to writhe a post about them, but can’t find the inspiration as there doesn’t seem to be subject, if that makes any sense…

          • Avatar
            Hamish Gill
            January 16, 2016 at 7:19 pm

            “My first roll with a (film) Leica”

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Christoph
    January 16, 2016 at 8:04 am

    I’m looking forward to hearing more as you keep playing with the camera: especially if you keep taking pictures in the vertical format, very strange and quite difficult to get straight…
    The aspect ratio really is amazing: I also have an XPan and love getting back the prints, as they always turn out better than expected (low expectations, perhaps?).
    By the way @Patrick: the main difference between the I and II models seems to be the location of the metering readout. For the I you have a little LCD outside the viewfinder. I thought this was going to be a killer, but once you have a rough value set it’s actually quite nice not to have a cluttered finder.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Thanks Christoph, have you a link you can share to any of your work with yours?

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrik
    January 16, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Vertical panorama is tricky as hell 🙂 Have done some tests with my 6×17

    http://www.oneaday.se/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/img008.jpg

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Fun though!
      Thats a cool shot!!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrik
    January 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    Yeah, I think the Xpan is a camera that you can have more fun with though… The G617 pretty much demands a “job” or a certain place pre-decided to shoot. You don’t just bring it on a walk since its sooo big, and each exposure costs $$$
    I’m totally in love with the panorama format though, hence why I’m dreaming about an X-pan as well. The Xpan you can shoot in normal mode as well, so its a more versatile camera I think. I did a job for a few months ago perfect for 6×17 and panorama, it can be viewed here:

    http://www.oneaday.se/gallery/industri

    8000m2 industrial area in Stockholm, empty now for the first time in 40 years. I was alone there for 4 hours, unreal!

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      That sounds like a lot of fun! The results are really nice too! I really like wondering around places like that…

  • Avatar
    Reply
    levee
    January 16, 2016 at 6:26 pm

    Love these shots! Xpan is a really nice camera. 🙂

    As for underexposure… well, it depends on what kind of developer the lab was using. Ilford recommends Microphen. I’d say at least Xtol.

    Maybe try D3200 next time. It’s not a “native” 3200 ASA film, more of an ISO 600-800 film with great pushability. D3200 is not as characteristic as HP5, but you’ll get better tones.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 16, 2016 at 6:50 pm

      I’m not as big a fan of Delta, I find the grain a little intrusive compared to pushed HP5. If you have a look on my flickr, all the black & white back from the end of last year/early part of this year is HP5.
      I don’t really meter, I just I tend to just shoot into the realms of what I think will be overexposure with it in mind that I am going to have the film pushed 2 stops. This process has yielded a look I have ben happy with. And that is from the same lab.
      This shot is HP5 pushed 3 stops in DDX which is my favourite developer for pushing it. Expensive, but it works! But thats LF and home dev…
      On this occasion I deviated from both these systems, and it didn’t go to plan… it’ll be fine next time 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Hank
    January 16, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    I shot with a Widelux for a while, doing street photography. Very very difficult to use all of the frame effectively. There always seemed to be a “dead spot” somewhere in every frame.
    When everything came together, though, it made an extremely interesting photo!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Francois
    January 16, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Takes some time to get used to it, I had the first X-Pan and it’s true that the paint was flaking just by looking at it, however Hasselblad replaced the parts free of charge at the time. The viewfinder was not great either. Found that I always was missing something on top and bottom, anyhow sold it and bought a Mamiya 7 with the 35mm adapter that gave you similar results and still allowed you to work with a full 120 negative/positive.
    Was considering getting another one but since Canadian currency is so low now, any purchases become 30 to 40% more expensive than it was 18 months ago.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 17, 2016 at 11:11 am

      Funnily enough, the chap I bought mine from was planning a Mamiya as a replacement

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrick
    January 17, 2016 at 6:10 pm

    Panoramic format is simply awesome. It is a bit of a challenging to work with at times, but some compositions just fall into place. Hey Patrik, your warehouse shots are great! What an opportunity.
    Thanks for the info in the differences between the bodies. I checked ebay yesterday for Xpans. They still sell for a high price. I’m going to have to pass on the urge to buy one again since I’m in Canada too and our dollar is dropping like crazy with the price of oil.
    A bit out of scope for 35mmc, but I just started shooting with a 6×12 roll film back on my 4×5 field camera. Definitely not as long as the 6×17/Xpan, but still a pretty cool format. You get six shots per roll. Can be printed in a 4×5 enlarger. Horseman and Linhof both have dedicated 612 cameras. If someone is interested, check them out.

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Patrick
    January 17, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I need to buy a film scanner that will do up to 4×5. I’ve looked online at the Epson V800 and V850. Does anyone have experience with these scanners or is there another one I should be looking at?

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 17, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      The v800/850 is awesome in my experience. My mate James has an 850, it never fails to impress!

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Dexter
    January 18, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    These are great! Look forward to seeing the results of the next few rolls.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 18, 2016 at 9:31 pm

      thanks 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Leo Sze
    June 22, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Wonderful job, Hamish. I am looking for a xpan as well. Where do you get one? It is really hard to find a good condition from eBay.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      June 22, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      I bought it from a mate … Sorry, I know that’s not much use. Have you asked Japan Camera Hunter?

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Leo Sze
        June 24, 2016 at 1:47 am

        Oh….too bad. Bellamy said He could find one in Japan. It is too popular in Japan. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Reply
    benjamin lee
    September 22, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Hi there, I’m an XPan shooter and I’ve recently started to build a gallery of my Xpan Images, its an ongoing project which will hopefully grow and maybe even inspire other people to go panoramic. Long live film.

    http://benleephotography.co.uk/hasselblad-xpan/

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