It was Day 6 of COVID-19 isolation, I was feeling more and more restless. Being one of the lucky ones, I could still work from home, but my mind was distracted by the barrage of sad news. I needed a project, a welcomed point of focus. Luckily for me, Wilco Jensen from Hassyparts posted his latest project on a Facebook group for film camera users. He made a mechanical XPan from a Nikon FE body with a 47mm Schneider lens on a simple helicoid. This project immediately got my gears spinning… didn’t I have a couple of broken FEs sitting in my parts camera bin?
I’m Ethan, I make cameras at Cameradactyl.com. A few months back I finished the initial prototypes for a new camera, the Brancopan, which is a 35mm panoramic camera that takes Mamiya press lenses. For this article, I wanted to put together a bit of a preview, as well as showing some pictures I’ve taken with the camera. I’ve had a working version of the Brancopan since this summer, and I’ve beat it around quite a bit, shot about a hundred rolls over three countries. I only have about 40 rolls scanned so far.
I’ve recently bought myself a Panomicron Oxygen – a panoramic 35mm film camera that’s the same format as the Hasselblad Xpan, but at a fraction of the price. It might not be as technically advanced as the Xpan, but the Panomicron offers me pretty much as much as I could want from such a format of camera, it’s more simple to use, and I’m in no way worried that it might break leaving me with a very expensive door stop – points for the Panomicron, but just how good can a 3D printed camera be?
To cut to the chase, it is possible to shoot the Hasselblad Xpan with a 35mm f2.8 PC Nikkor, which will give you a wider field of view than with the standard 45mm lens. It’s a clunky set-up with a couple of issues, however it offers a lot of potential for great imagery. This review will discuss the advantages and drawbacks this set-up entails, my experience with it, and I’ll of course share some images that I have made using it.
It is probably easiest if I just come out and say it like this: The XPAN will forever hold a special place in my heart.
It’s been two years since I’ve owned it, and roughly 200 or so rolls later, I don’t have any plans to sell it. I have made some of my favourite images with it and have enjoyed shooting it tremendously. I will go into more details obviously, but if you wanted the short version, there it is. You can zone out and just look at the photos now if you wish.